Molding Creativity: Learning With The Kid and His Clay

When you walk around my sister’s home, you may just miss the added decorative pieces sitting in random places throughout. There are little clay figures, moldings, drawings and small trinkets in specially chosen places. For years, as my nephew created his art pieces, he didn’t lose them or throw them out. Instead, he found places for them to sit in his home. Some of them, especially the shelf sitters, are so specifically placed that I wonder if he made them with their eventual location in mind. I’ll have to ask him that question.

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 10.01.24 PMWhat I love about watching Braeden make things is that they almost always have an interesting story behind them. For example, one of his latest, Fozzie Bear was caught in the wind. The wind is so heavy that he has to hold on to his hat. Even his famous tie is created so that it leaves the perception of being blown.  Miss Piggy, on the other had, got all decked out to go on a date with Kermit the Frog. She’s wearing a sparkly dress, a ring and a watch which I found interesting. On her neck is a Kermit necklace that she herself made. What was amazing was hearing Braeden create this story as he was molding.

The art that he creates is literally molded to fit the story that he imagines. It’s quite remarkable witnessing each project as it develops from story to final product.

Where the Learning Happens 

Everything that Braeden knows about art came from trial and error and youtube. He has a specific vision of what he wants but that often changes depending on how his elements fit. For example, Fozzie Bear is holding his hat because he couldn’t get the hand to stay in the right position but placing it on the hat worked and I’m sure that doing so added to the story itself.

Creations in Braeden’s head don’t always translate as he wishes and many have been scrapped to either redo or recycle. Sure he gets frustrated, like anyone else, when his pieces don’t come together but as he figures out another way…he is also learning valuable life lessons.

  1. When something doesn’t work, you can always try another way.
  2. Not every piece has to be perfect. (He taught me that.)

Where the Technology Fits

Braeden does not attend a school where art is even a focus as it is not a part of the tested curriculum. It’s sad because in his last school, he remembers art and this year he knows nothing but worksheets. He has never taken a formal art class. Any techniques that he has came from watching videos on youtube or through his research. Videos send him to other videos and even websites where artist are sharing their work. Through this he is learning another valuable lesson…

Sharing your work not only helps to show what you do but it also helps inspire others to create as well.


Someone once alluded to the idea that all student creations needed to be digital. Learning from my nephew has shown me that we have to push back on that idea. There is just as much room for hand created physical products as there is for digital. To eliminate one over the other means that the needs of all students aren’t being met. If anything, this is where choice rears its often misunderstood head. Instead of forcing a ppt or digital poster into the process, let kids choose how they present and what they create. You might just be surprised at the hidden talents that kids have.

For Braeden, his talents tend to show when his mind sends him to try something new. Art land is his chosen place.

In case you missed it, technology for Braeden is a tool…invisible…necessary…purposeful.

As it should be…

See Braeden’s process in Haiku Deck Form!

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

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