Clay Smoosh Hearts

Last week we revisited one of our favorite art techniques, “clay smooshing”, that we learned from the process art guru MaryAnn Kohl.  Clay smoosh collaging is a fun and easy activity for toddlers and preschoolers that happens to be great for fine motor skills as well. This time we added a Valentine’s Day spin- after all, it wouldn’t be the season of love without a few colorful hearts!

Clay Smoosh Heart

To begin, we grabbed some plasticine clay (available at Amazon HEREor at craft stores in a rainbow of colors) in some Valentine shades- red, pink, and purple. I love plasticine for its firm consistency, vibrant color, and the fact that it never dries out. We also collected buttons and gems from our artsy/crafty stash.

plasticine clay and gems

For our canvases, we used cardboard cut into heart shapes. You want something firm that can stand up to pressure and movement, so delicate paper is out.

pinching the clay

The process is simple- take small pinches of clay from your colorful blocks, press them down on your canvas, and then take your index finger (or thumb, or palm of hand, whatever), press down on your pinch of clay, and drag your finger across the canvas. This will smear or “smoosh” your clay into vibrant streaks of color. Even better if you have a brand new superhero costume to do it in.

smooshing the clay

There are no rules or predetermined outcomes with this technique- it’s all about the process. Both of the twins really enjoy this activity and we have repeated it several times.  Since plasticine never dries, so you can come back and work on your masterpieces whenever the urge strikes.  Plus, you can press small items like buttons or beads into your “smooshes,” adding another layer of media to your work.

pressing gems into clay

This activity was very engaging for the twins because it capitalized on their natural instincts to poke and smash and smear. They displayed very intense concentration and focus and got a great little fine motor workout!  I’ve read several articles suggesting that everyday play dough is not firm enough to really work those little muscles during play- this clay takes a bit more muscle to pinch and spread.

vibrant clay smoosh collage

It’s always interesting when we repeat activities to see how the twins’ interactions with the media changes over time. Last time we did this activity we ended up with layers and layers of bright colors on top of each other, which was really neat to see (photo above). This time they kept their smooshes separate, more interested in making blobs that were thick enough to stick buttons and gems into.

beautiful clay smoosh heart

This time around I couldn’t help but do a bit of smooshing myself 😉

clay smoosh hearts on family chalkboard

More Good Stuff for You:

Interested in how to use art to stimulate language in toddlers? Read this post: Building Language with Art

For more toddler art ideas, check out MaryAnn’s book First Art for Toddlers and Twos – it’s one of our favorites!

For more Valentine’s Day ideas, check out our Sensory Bottle Valentines with Free Printable Labels or our Valentine Marbled Salt Dough.


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  1. Love this! The color is so brilliant!

  2. Ok THIS is REALLY COOL!!! I just received our amazon pastel plasticine–looks like its time for some green shamrocks or spring flowers to display, using this technique! Should we add GLUE? So it lasts a bit longer? .??