There’s something so fascinating about clay modeling; it keeps the little ones glued to their sculptures for hours. It’s a fun and engaging activity that children don’t tire of and others simply never outgrow.
Play-Doh is always a wonderful source of entertainment, but the fun stops when they need to stuff it all back in the container. As children grow older, they become more interested in creativity rather than simple sensory play and soon wish to keep their creations forever.
When children hit this stage, it’s time to consider modeling clay for kids. It offers a fresh challenge which is fundamental for their creative development and they’ll even be able to keep their models for years to come! Not to mention, it makes for a great classroom material for hands-on learning!
So, what is the best modeling clay for kids? The best modeling clay for kids will be soft and easy to shape, non-toxic, and easily curable. Modeling clay can either be air-dry or oven-bake. Air drying is the safest method for curing clay, but oven bake clay cures harder and more resilient for play post curing.
We understand the tricky situation many parents face when there’s such an overwhelmingly huge variety of modeling art supplies to choose from (clay, plasticine, dough, etc).
This article seeks to unravel the confusion by providing valuable insights to help you shop like an expert. We’ll start by giving you a few good reasons why modeling clay is worth purchasing for your child.
We also review five brands of the best modeling clay for kids to help you zero in on your search. Trust us, it makes a world of difference when you already have a few names in mind.
Benefits of Clay Play
Perhaps you’ve been wondering what the difference is between Play-Doh and modeling clay. Play-Doh is great for play and can be reused for a long time, but modeling clay allows your children to keep their creations.
Play-Doh makes a terrific introduction to modeling for kids. It is extremely stretchy and soft, which is an excellent consistency for those teeny-tiny fingers to roll, poke, pinch, and squish effortlessly.
Is clay modeling important for children? Yes, clay modeling is vital to play. It is more than just a pastime activity but a learning and development tool.
Here are some of the reasons why modeling clay is great for kids:
- Clay modeling is one of the best ways to encourage a child’s brain development. It touches on sensory, coordination, imaginative, memory, reasoning, and recognition skills.
- Hours of clay manipulation assists in the development of eye-hand coordination and the growth of those tiny finger and hand muscles too.
- It promotes learning different shapes and forms, 3-dimensional objects, colors, textures, objects, and even words.
- Making clay crafts encourages creative exploration, which sends their imaginative side into overdrive and boosts their self-confidence and self-expression.
- Want to tame temper tantrums and emotional outbursts, or calm anxiety in kids? Introduce colorful clay. The act of pounding and squishing the putty is a stress reliever and is very soothing.
- The art of modeling has no age limit and is enjoyable by children of all ages. If you’ve been wondering what enjoyable activity your 12-year-old could possibly do with their 4-year-old sibling, clay is the answer.
Buying Modeling Clay for Kids
If you’re considering buying modeling clay for your little ones, it’s not as simple as grabbing any colorful clay off the shelf. There are a few important things to keep in mind as you shop for the best set to suit your needs.
Here are some other things to consider:
- Safety – Children’s safety can never be overlooked when buying clay. You’ll want to choose a child-friendly, non-toxic, and green brand that will not irritate their skin nor degrade the environment.
- Workability – This pertains to clay softness and pliability. A consistency that is too tough will likely strain those small fragile fingers. Also, being too soft defeats the purpose of switching up from Play-Doh. Good clay is reasonably soft and will stretch without exerting too much pressure and splitting.
- Curing Method – Air-dry clay is preferable for kids since it doesn’t need heat to cure. Polymer clay has to be baked in an oven to harden and will always require adult supervision. Beware of plasticine and do not confuse it with modeling clay for kids. It does not hold form by heating or air drying and deforms easily.
- Accessories – Sculpting tools, tutorial books, and knick-knacks such as googly eyes that accompany kids’ modeling clay kits are a bonus. They are not a priority over quality but a fantastic addition to have.
Next are our top five picks for kid’s modeling clay based on the above factors. We also took customer ratings and reviews into consideration. You are sure to find something for every age group and skill level.
Top 5 modeling clays for kids
|1.||Sago Brothers Air Dry Clay||24 colors, soft, air-dry, allergen-free|
|2.||Crayola Model Magic Clay||14 colors, eco-friendly, non-stick|
|3.||Crayola Air Dry Clay||White or terracotta, resealable tub|
|4.||Original Sculpey Clay||30 colors, polymer clay, oven-bake|
|5.||Ifergoo Polymer Clay Kit||32 colors, polymer clay plus accessories|
1. Sago Brothers Air Dry Clay
Folks who have a “No Play-Doh” policy in their homes as well as those trying to avoid allergic ingredients will love this modeling clay kit from Sago brothers.
It is non-toxic so you can breathe easy knowing it is absolutely safe.
Unlike dough which often contains wheat, eggs, or nuts, this clay is allergen-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free, making it perfect for users with food sensitivities.
It is really soft and stretchy; small hands will have no trouble molding. And the best part is that it leaves no messy residue, so cleaning up after the kids is such a breeze.
The clay comes in 24 bright and lively colors individually packed with sealable bags to maintain softness for the next play. The kids may also opt to harden their mini creations by simply air-drying them into a foam-like lightweight solid.
Accompanying the clays are simple sculpting tools and an easy-to-follow tutorial book to help young minds with craft ideas.
We suggest this easy-to-use, lightweight, and colorful air-dry clay kit as a starter pack for children aged 3 years and up.
2. Crayola Model Magic Clay
Any best modeling clay for kids review would not be complete without the name Crayola popping up somewhere.
This clay is non-toxic and eco-friendly which is a good choice for you, your kids, and the world we live in. It is so safe, you can even use it for baby handprints and paw prints.
It is super flexible, yet non-stick, which is good for those tiny developing hands and mess-free playtime. It comes in 14 colors.
The clay air dries into a lightweight mass without cracking making it perfects for hanging ornaments. Unused clay remains soft in an airtight resealable tub.
We believe it is the best modeling clay for kids transitioning from Play-Doh, ideally 4-6 years, though older kids will enjoy it too.
3. Crayola Air Dry Clay
Crayola air-dry clay is just as wonderful as the Model Magic. It is non-toxic and comes in a resealable airtight tub. The only difference is that the consistency of Crayola air dry is a little bit tougher.
However, this doesn’t mean it’s too tough to mold, just tough enough to hold its shape a little better.
It has a smooth texture and gets super flexible with just a little kneading, something older kids can handle with ease.
The natural water-based clay is everything like traditional clay minus the sticky mess. It takes ceramic techniques really well. When left to dry, the no-bake clay hardens to a strong solid.
This is an excellent choice of modeling clay for kids aged 6-15 as it enables them to fine-tune their sculpting skills with clay that is less playful and more mature but still fun.
4. Original Sculpey Clay
Good old Sculpey has for many years made it into the shopping lists of parents and teachers alike, and for a very good reason. It is one of the best clays for kids, teens, and beginner adults.
The polymer clay appears tough when unwrapped but quickly softens upon conditioning it, getting even better as you continue working on it.
The best thing about Sculpey is that it doesn’t dry out for a long time. So, kids can take as much time on their sculptures as they need to without it hardening. They can even leave their creations halfway done to complete later.
You will not need a special kiln to harden it. An ordinary toaster oven will do for those exceptional crafts your kids want to cherish.
This pack comes with 30 different colors. The hardened Sculpey also allows your children to experiment with sanding and carving.
The age recommendation is 8 years and above and we think it is the best modeling clay for children who exhibit strong artistic abilities and a true passion for clay sculpting.
5. Ifergoo Polymer Clay Kit
Kids love baking with you, don’t they? Well, this polymer clay kit offers you a different opportunity to bond over oven-baked goodies. Not the edible ones though.
Ifergoo modeling clay for kids is a complete set of 32 brightly colored polymer clay pieces (they are small as expected of kid’s clay) accompanied by tools and accessories.
It is pliant enough for effortless sculpting and will not harden when exposed therefore keeping kids engaged for longer.
As with any oven-bake clay, children will need an adult’s supervision to cure their creations in the oven. Any child who loves making small clay crafts will be ecstatic to receive this kit as a gift. There’s no limit to what they can create; beads for DIY jewelry, keyrings, action figures, animals, etc.
It is recommended for kids aged 3+ but we think it’s best suited for older kids who have an artistic flair and know their stuff.
Important safety notes:
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use modeling clay for kids.
- Despite being non-toxic, kids’ clay must NEVER be ingested.
- Some accessories are a choking hazard and should not be put in the mouth.
- Kids using polymer clay MUST always be supervised.
- They should also avoid touching their eyes or mouth when working with clay and wash their hands thoroughly immediately after use.
What Is the Difference Between Play-Doh and Modeling Clay?
Play-Doh is not real clay but dough made from a mixture of flour, acid, oils, and salts, while modeling clay for kids is actual clay that dries solid, creating more long-lasting crafts
As the name suggests, Play-Doh is more for play, since it is softer and crumbles into pieces easily when dry. Modeling clay has a firmer consistency but is pliable enough for not-so-little kids to mold as well. It dries solid, creating more stable and long-lasting crafts.
Play-Doh is a good way to introduce small kids to the art of modeling. As they get older, consider upgrading them to the best modeling clays for kids to advance their sculpting techniques.
You can follow our guidelines to explore what brands of modeling clay for kids are available on the market or nd your search here with any one of our trusted suggestions from the round-up.
Your young ones will be delighted to finally make more durable crafts to proudly display after all the hard work they put into them. And who knows, you could be shaping a future artist in the process!
Up Next: Can You Bake Air-Dry Clay?