Clay Slip

Delivery Method: 

A teacher poses an invitation for two infants to explore by placing a couple of small containers filled with clay slip nearby. Her provocation offers the infants an opportunity to learn about the features of this new material and to investigate how the clay slip behaves. Both infants approach the clay slip with curiosity. Jack may have the disposition of a risk-taker as without hesitation, he uses his hand to investigate the unfamiliar substance. Aidan is more cautious as he observes intently from a safe distance.
Notice that Jack extends his fingers to touch the surface of the slip while resting his palm on the lip of the container. Once he discovers that the material is easily penetrated, he pushes his fingers down (00:01). The batter like consistency of the clay slip may encourage him to submerge his hand until his fingers reach the bottom of the container. As he pulls his hand back, Jack discovers that the clay slip creates a suction effect thereby causing the entire container to move with his hand (00:02). Jack adjusts his strategy by gently gliding his extended fingers against the inside wall of the container as he lifts his hand out (00:03).
He observes the clay slip that is stuck to his hand and almost immediately, places his hand with fingers extended, on the floor mat (00:06). Notice that he presses his hand against the mat and holds it in place (00:007). Jack may enjoy the feeling of the clay slip sandwiched between his fingers and the floor or, he could merely be trying to remove it from his hand. However, Jack looks away (00:08) just as he lifts his hand, suggesting that he does not anticipate the clay slip will transfer from his hand to the floor mat.
As he moves to sit on his bottom some of the clay slip drips from his hand (00:08) but Jack does not seem to notice. When Jack turns his head to look, he may be surprised to see the clay slip on the floor (00:11). Now, with his clean hand (right), Jack uses a swiping motion to explore the clay slip (00:13). Observe that Jack does not curl his fingers as if to grasp the substance but rather, uses his outstretched hand like a trowel. His swiping motion suggests that Jack understands something about the properties of the clay slip. He does not assume it is like a solid object that retains a particular shape and can therefore, be picked up. Yet, unlike a liquid (i.e., water), he knows that the clay slip sticks to his hand and clumps on the floor. Sensing that it is something other than a solid or a liquid, Jack decides to smear it by dragging his hand (00:13).
Aidan continues to closely observe what Jack does with the unfamiliar substance. When the streak begins to fade notice that Jack presses his open palm down on top of the full container (00:16). Jack may do so in order to reload his hand with clay slip, similar to how one might reload a paintbrush with paint. Jack tries to swipe his hand across the top of the container as he had done with the pile of clay slip on the floor (00:16), but the container tips over (00:18).
He continues to explore how clay slip can be spread as he smears it on his leg. Notice that Jack invents a third strategy with which to explore the properties of the slip. Twice, he clenches and releases his fist causing the clay slip to be squeezed out and fall onto his leg (00:21). Doing so may help him begin to learn that the clay slip: a) has volume and therefore requires a certain amount of space; b) can be forced to move when pressure is applied; c) like water, can take the shape of anything that contains it - in this case, the slip becomes small enough to seep through the opening at the bottom of his fist; and, d) is effected by gravity. The clay dripping on his leg (00:23) captures his attention and Jack resumes smearing the clay. Jack stands the container upright (00:27) and inserts his hand so that he is better able to add more clay slip to his fingers (00:29).
For the first time, Aidan ventures to touch the clay slip. Notice that he slides his hand forward as if he does not expect the clay slip to resist the pressure of his finger (00:29). Jack continues his own investigation by testing the suctioning effect of the clay slip around his hand when inserted into a container (00:40-00:50). Consider why he may decide to give both containers a try? What other strategies do you notice Jack repeating? What do you think he may be using these strategies to learn more about?
Aidan also uses a swiping action to explore the clay slip (01:09, 01:16). Unlike Jack, Aidan swipes his hand side-to-side, moving back-and-forth over the surface. Observe that the clay slip has begun to dry on the floor. Aidan may invent a different swiping action in response to the transformed material. Aidan locates a moist patch and like Jack, he smears the clay slip across the floor (01:52). Study both infants as they use this smearing action and decide if you think Aidan (01:52) and Jack (00:13) have similar intentions in mind.

Length of stand-alone master video clip: 2 minutes 45 secs

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Keywords: Infants, Clay, Exploration, Cause/Effect