The Educative Value of Modelling - Materials With Which to Model - Sand - The Use of Clay and Plasticine - Objects Suitable for Modelling - Drawing as a Natural Instinct - Early Pencillings How to Encourage the Taste for Drawing - A Japanese Method - Memory Drawing - Brush
Work, Its Aims and How to Teach It - The Value of a Knowledge of Drawing
When Froebel arranged the occupation of modelling, it was not that his pupils should become sculptors, but that hand and eye should work together in training the intellect. What is seen is easily forgotten, but what is handled as well as seen makes a more lasting impression. Moreover, in order to represent what is seen, it is necessary to observe closely, and the closer the observation the more faithful the reproduction, so that as a training of the faculty of observation the occupation of modelling is invaluable.
Modelling as an occupation for children has a well-ordered sequence. Sand is the first material used, and although dry sand has little cohesion, it can be made workable by being moistened. Any fine sand can be used, but Calais sand, which costs about a penny per pound, is best. An old iron tray is required for the earliest stages, and when the child models in sand a piece of linoleum should be supplied.
At first the mother shows the sand, and has a chat about its origin, various uses and properties, and the difference between wet sand and dry sand. She then proceeds to build up a garden, farmyard, park, pond, or castle. By degrees, elementary lessons in geography can be given in this way, for with the wet sand every kind of physical feature of land and water can be illustrated.
Another use can be made of the wet sand. The surface can be smoothed, and with a wooden skewer tracings can be made. Letters may be taught thus, and easy words arranged so as to carry on the lesson which was begun with stick-laying.
To lead up to clay modelling, moist sand can be shaped with moulds, and this occupation should be carried out by the child himself. A patty-pan makes an excellent mould, as does a wineglass or an eggcup. The moist sand should be pressed firmly into the moulds, which should be inverted to produce the shape. With the patty-pans a collection of sand pies can be made, and with them can be associated the nursery rhyme of "Simple Simon," which, when learnt and dramatically recited, will bring pleasure to the child.
The material required for modelling is clay or plasticine. Each has advantages. The clay is cheap, and permanence can be given to objects by drying them in the sun and baking them in a hot oven. Terra-cotta clay or plain grey clay can be purchased cheaply at any kindergarten depot. Portions not in use must be kept covered with a wet cloth.
The drawback of working in clay is its "messiness." Plasticine is more costly, but it is less sticky, keeps moist longer, and when hard can be kneaded to proper consistency with vaseline. It does not stain, and its oiliness is just sufficient to prevent a
A board or square piece of linoleum should be provided for each little worker, and if clay is used a wet flannel and a sponge should also be supplied. With regard to tools, the ringers are the only implements necessary for the modelling of simple forms. More advanced exercises can be worked with a small wooden knife.
Exercises must be graded, and the same sequence must be observed as is used in the presentment of forms in the simplest gifts. The ball which constitutes Gift 1, as being the simplest and most perfect form, is used for the earliest exercises in clay modelling. A rough piece of clay is cut from the lump, and the child rolls it between his hands until it is well rounded. Accuracy of form may be tested by rolling it on the table or by passing it in different ways through a ring. This large ball should next be halved with a paper-knife, and each portion treated by rolling it with the hand to form new balls.
When the child has succeeded in making a clay sphere, he should be encouraged to look around for objects of similar shape. He suggests an orange and an apple, and these are contrasted with his perfect sphere. He then modifies his plastic sphere, and reproduces the orange and the apple, adding markings, stalk, etc., to make his model true to life. The child must examine thoroughly the thing which he is about to imitate, not only by looking at it, but by feeling it. By using the senses of sight and touch combined a more accurate idea is formed.
The child will find that the plastic sphere may not only be flattened, but also elongated. The new form suggests an egg and a potato, which are then reproduced in the clay. A Brazil nut, a pear, and a lemon are modifications of the sphere of greater difficulty, and these should be examined and reproduced.
The next form is the cylinder, which can be obtained by modifying the sphere. The cylinder will suggest objects such as a honey-pot, a bottle, banana, pea and bean pods, carrot, etc., which should be examined and reproduced. By cutting thick slices from the cylinder with a paper-knife, a new form, the disc, is discovered. This makes a wheel, and can be used as a clock-face or watch. The flat disc can be moulded and converted into a plate, a saucer, a cup, to which a handle must be added, and a bird's nest, which can be filled with eggs.
The square comes next, from which an inkstand, cart, and box can be made.
Good models should be kept; thus the child becomes his own toy-maker, or may make articles to give away.
The sight of some little children breathing on the nursery window and tracing figures with their fingers gave Froebel the idea that this love of drawing might serve the purpose of education, for, although young children have an intense love of the pictorial art, the love generally passes away as soon as formal drawing lessons are begun, so that few people ever gain sufficient skill to be of practical value, and only very few become artists.