Most toddlers, when given a piece of ordinary soft pottery clay, are instinctively motivated to explore its inviting soft and responsive sensory qualities. They poke it, squeeze it, hit it, pick it up and pound it down, and so on. Each time they act on the clay, the clay adjusts and responds. These changes mean very little to us as adults, but for a toddler these changes in the clay are magical. The child is naturally fascinated, motivated, and empowered to keep experimenting. Benefits Every child needs experiences that match his or her developmental level, and a simple piece of soft clay is a perfect match if the child is ready. Children that are old enough to squeeze your finger can squeeze a piece of soft clay. If they can notice a change in the clay, they are learning that their actions have consequences. This is empowerment. It encourages more experimentation. The child’s brain is taking shape along with the clay. Such self-initiated activity can be the perfect match for the developmental needs of the child. Clay stimulates the child’s curiosity. Intelligence, imagination, and creativity are engaged and fostered. Many new neurons and synapses in the brain are being generated when a child is engaged by the immediate tactile and visual feedback provided by clay. Manipulating a piece of clay develops the child’s large and small muscles. Clay play fosters eye-hand coordination. Soft clay is receptive and responsive to all kinds of emotional expression. Clay is so fascinating that some children work for long periods without any adult motivation to maintain their interest. It can be a great way to extend the attention span of some children.