Molded by the Master Potter

 

Clay seems to be a favorite with children everywhere. There is something about the hands-on tactile experience that everyone loves. But just because they love working with clay, doesnít mean they donít need to learn some basics to get the most out of it. One time at a church youth night my mom and I had set up a table full of slabs of colorful, fresh clay with tools and accessories such as toothpicks, wiggly eyes and feathers. We invited the kids to create their own "outer space creatures". We expected the results to be highly individual. But we were surprised to see that, outside of a few of the oldest kids, most ended up making creatures that looked indistinguishable from each other. 
 
 
Jakob's clay creature.
Nathan's clay creature.
Megan's clay creature.

Their creations all remained in the original slab form with eyes, feathers and toothpicks stuck in them. They were formless identical creatures. How did this happen? We finally realized that it was because the younger children hadnít yet learned the importance of kneading the clay until it was really flexible to work with it better. It never occurred to them that they could "mold" the clay into a variety of shapes! They just used it as a hard lump on which to stick accessories. Yet the project was still a success Ö each child was happy and satisfied with the end result because it was his/her own creation. And we realized that, with a little help in the future, they would all learn about the process of kneading and molding and would grow in their ability to create more and more elaborate clay objects. 

Editors Note: For Ramona's inspiration for this project, please read the Abundance of the Heart - Molded by the Master Potter.

We can use working with clay in one long lesson or two separate lesson sessions to emphasize two principles:

  1. God uses the things that happen to us to mold us into the person He wants us to be. 
  2. God--the Master Potter--is very creative, and because we are made in His likeness, He put in each of us the ability to also be creative.
Supplies: Clay
popsicle sticks
plastic knives
toothpicks

pictures of a wide variety of animal life, particularly animals that have unique qualities such as the giraffe with its long neck, the platypus that looks like a patchwork of other animals, the kangaroo with its powerful hind legs and tiny forelegs and its pouch for its young


Activities:

  1. Teach your children how to knead the clay until it is soft and workable.
  2. Give some of the tools names like the "popsicle stick of relationships", the "plastic knife of experience". Show the children how to experiment with these tools to make various effects in the clay and change the shape of the clay. Discuss how God can bring experiences and relationships into our life to "mold" us in such ways as learning to have more patience, learning compassion for others, and developing perseverance. 
  3. Explain that as we yield to God and become pliable, God makes us into the person He designed for us to be through kneading us and molding us. But instead of using His hands or physical tools, He uses the things that happen to us to form our character.
Once the children have developed some effective ways of working with the clay, look at and discuss the pictures of animals. Encourage the children to notice what an incredible variety of animals God has designed, all out of the same basic elements. Discuss how much enjoyment He likely had "thinking up" such unusual animals as the hippopotamus and the peacock and the porcupine and the camel and the giraffe and the anteater and the platypus. 

Then remind the children that God gave them creative abilities like His, only on a much smaller scale. And just as He enjoyed His own creative efforts (as recorded in Genesis 1), He wants them to enjoy using the creativity which He built into them. 

Suggest that they use the clay to see what kinds of unusual pretend creatures they can design. 

Click here for some pictures of animals.

Related Bible verses:

Gen 1:31       "God saw all that he had made, and it was very goodÖ"

Gen 2:4-7      "This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens-- and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground-- the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."

Isa 45:9      "Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, 'He has no hands'?"

Isa 64:8     " Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand."
 
 

By Ramona Leiter 
December 2002

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