No need to “dumb down” polymer clay instructions for children. You’ll be amazed how quick they learn:
Q: Hello Cindy – Next week I begin teaching middle schoolers different craft techniques & I’m starting with Fimo Clay. The classes are 50 minutes long and I will have 4 classes – 1x a week. My concern is storing the clay projects from 1 week to the next. My hope is that class 1 – they will have formed a cane, Class 2 – they will slice and we will bake. What is the best way to store the canes for 8 days? I am thinking wrapping them in plastic wrap, placing these in a air tight container and then in the fridge. Thanks for any and all suggestions. ~Sandy
A: I think polymer clay is a wonderful craft for kids. In fact today’s photo is of my 12 year old daughter’s sculpture that she made to look like her character on the popular online game, Club Penguin. By the way, my daughter’s name is Willow.
There are a few important things to keep in mind when teaching kids about polymer clay.
1) Don’t ‘dumb-down’ the polymer clay instructions for children. There is no reason why kids can’t learn the proper way to work with polymer clay just as well as any adult can. I’m very proud of how fast my 9 yr old son and 12 year old daughter are learning how to work with their collections of Fimo and Sculpey.
2) Make sure kids know that polymer clay is not to go in their mouths. Hands and desks should be washed well after the arts and crafts class is over.
3) Use a good quality polymer clay like Fimo or Premo Sculpey. Using a poor quality ‘kids grade’ like Sculpey III will only lead to frustration! It breaks easily and is too mushy to get nice details, especially for canes. Read this article I published a while back on: Why Sculpey III Makes Me Mad!
4) Since kids tend to re-work things over and over, don’t use an air-dry polymer clay or it will dry out too fast. This is also important if the project will not be completed the first day. Polymer clay that bakes in the oven, does not dry out and can be re-worked for weeks and weeks until baked.
5) Freezer paper or parchment taped to cardboard can make a great work surface. Keep surfaces and hands clean by wiping with baby wipes or rubbing alcohol. You can write the child’s name on the paper and when they are done for the day, you can move their projects to a shelf for safe storage. The clay won’t dry out, but draping Glad Cling Wrap plastic, wax paper or parchment paper over the polymer projects will keep the dust and ‘little fingers’ out.
6) Canes can be wrapped individually with Glad Cling Wrap. Then you can write the child’s name on the outside of the plastic with a Sharpie felt pen. These wrapped polymer clay canes can then just go into a box until the next week. Read this post about using the right brand of plastic wrap with clay: How to Store Polymer Clay Canes
7) Don’t store polymer clay near a hot window or heating vent since it will start to cure at quite a low temperature. However refrigeration is not necessary.
8) Keep colors simple. Some kids, especially young ones, will muck all their colors together and get mud. If you keep the colors to 2 primaries and white or pearl, the combinations will always look good. With older kids you can teach them a little about color mixing and give them more freedom.
9) Bamboo skewers are great for piercing and baking beads on. Rub them with cornstarch first so the clay does not stick. They make nice big holes for simple stringing. You can cut them any length and you can be even write the kids name on the stick using a masking tape label for easy identification.
10) Finish the polymer clay projects properly. Bake the pieces for 1 hr at the recommended temperature. The package will say 30 minutes, but experience has taught me that 1 hour makes the clay much stronger. It’s also good to teach how to avoid fingerprints. And if time permits, sanding techniques are important to learn as is doing a final coat with Future floor finish.
More details about all the tips listed above (and much more), are available in my 39 part Fimo basics video course. It’s perfect as an art class teachers reference for polymer clay kids craft projects. Questions? Comments? Care to tell Willow what you think of her Club Penguin Project? You can share your thoughts below.