Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Metals class for kids

I’ve been asked to do a metals class for some 8 to 10 year olds. Any
words of warning, wisdom? I’ve worked with kids before, but only in
short workshops.

Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

I have been an Artist in Residence in schools throughout SC for over
20 years now (showing my age !). That age is great to work with,
but some will not have mastery over fine motor skills yet. Some will.
So if you can plan activities that either will be successful without
the fine motor skills (delicate precision), or where you can do those
bits for those that need the help, it will work better. They have
great creativity at that age, little fear. Some will be able to
remember multiple directions, many won’t (also depends on what
demographic you are working with…not enough food and sleep
translate into shorter attention spans!). Breaking things into
simple, clear steps helps.

The ones who are fast will get bored easily waiting on the ones who
are slow, so having something they can move on to, or do in addition,
helps. You really don’t want a bunch of bored 8-10 year olds on your
hands !

Depending on what you are doing, having them work on something they
keep but also perhaps a group project that will be donated to the
sponsoring group (arts council, school, whatever) is nice.

Good luck with this!

Beth in SC who does residencies with K-5 through 12th grade and has
worked with 3 year old preschools!


I’ve worked with that age with glass and with enamels and as
problematic that age can be, kids love to be given the opportunity to
do ‘grown up’ stuff that we "allow them’ to do. My suggestion is to
let them be creative, let them tell you what they would like to do
and then just guide them along. You will be surprised at what they
are able to do and so will they.

jennifer friedman

You didn’t say just what all you’d be teaching, but in my experience,
if you are teaching soldering, 13 should be the absolute lower limit
in age. I taught adult and youth metals classes at Wichita Center for
the Arts for many years, and that was our restriction. Even then it
required diligent watching. One student poked his soldering tweezers
into the “holes” in a strip running along the work stations shorting
out half the room’s electricity, thankfully not electrocuting himself
in the process. His comment “I didn’t know it was electric, they’re
supposed to be on the wall, not a table.” Also, at first they’re
often afraid of the torches, but as they became more confident, some
were too careless with them, creating many new burned spots and
mini-fires.Perhaps a session on cold connections would be a nice
alternative. Just a few of my experiences as food for thought.

Linda Gebert

This has been an interesting thread, but it calls to mind my days as
a teacher and the huge limitations now put on anything that children
are allowed to do!

How is it in the States? Over here in the UK, any plans to get
together a group of children doing any practical activity even
without the use of sharp tools, conjures up the legal requirement to
process so much paperwork including risk assessment of every
substance and activity involved. What could happen when using that
substance or tool? You have to list every possible mishap. What would
you do if any of the mishaps occurred? Again list any action you
would take, evidencing proof that you’d provided for such actions.
Whilst returning to his workspace carrying a saw, little Johnny could
trip and accidentally cut little Lucille’s leg! Whilst rinsing said
project under the tap, water could be spilt on the floor and young
Roger could slip. What action would you take if little Johnny
tripped and cut Lucille’s leg, etc, etc? Who would look after the
rest of the group whilst you administered first aid or took Lucille
to hospital? I know I’m exaggerating slightly but you get the point.
It has become ridiculous over here in recent years that it takes the
fun out of such activities. Such admin responsibilities take up so
much time which most of us have precious little of (especially with
lesson planning and marking that a teacher also has to do) that such
activities can lose their appeal sadly.

My husband heard on the local news recently that any council run
activities or parties for children have banned the use of bubble
blowing. The reason being that the children could slip on the soap
residues which fall on the ground, resulting in an injury leading to
a possible law suit. The world has gone crazy! I wish things were
the way they used to be when I was a child. We were allowed to do so
much more than today’s children. They’re not allowed to explore the
possibilities of the world around them.

Sorry for the rant.


Fold forming has become a winner qwith many of the childrens’ class
I’ve done. Start with a hunt for leaves in the garden, draw on
paper, choose a shape and cut it out, fold the paper leafe in half
and copy that half-shape to copper. They are typically 10am ro 2.30pm
with a 1/2hr lunch break. The sawing is difficult for some, but they
will often adjust their designs as they go. Here’s a recent page
showing what was done at a class with variety of ages:


Hello Brian,

Thanks for sharing!

what was done at a class with variety of ages: 

We should all be open to opportunities to encourage youngsters in
any kind of artistic creations, and I am especially in favor of
something like this. Lots of individual expression while learning
some basic skills! Good on you.

Judy in Kansas, who added this idea to her list of kid activities.

I sat in on a class at a Mesa, AZ retirement community -
grandparents teaching their grandchildren some silversmithing. What I

*keep it simple - the kids had a choice to make a ring or earrings.

  • no setting stones or anything complex.

*have lots of helpers

*teach safety before anything else

Bob J

Hi…reference classes for kids…I was teaching Silversmithing in
the Adult Ed program at the time, and a parent requested his 14 year
old be allowed to take the 12 week course. We were doing all kinds of
soldering, etc, and the one thing that really was outstanding was the
channel inlay the boy did. All the adults were doing the same thing,
but he did exceptionally well.

After a class in Precious Metal Clay on this past Saturday with a
Mom and her 12 year old son, they have requested to take a
fabrication silver class. I won’t hesitate to let the fellow learn -
ought to be fun having both in the class. However, I used to teach
skiing and surely didn’t want the mom and kid in the same class -
will see!

Rose Marie Christison

Hello Helen,

The world has gone crazy! I wish things were the way they used to
be when I was a child. We were allowed to do so much more than
today's children. They're not allowed to explore the possibilities
of the world around them. 

I see the same attitude in the U.S. - generally related to liability
concerns. This seems to be a litigious society, and that dictates so
many disclaimers and extra precautions. Just read the instructions
for appliances, toys, paint, tools, etc. What happened individual
responsibility and common sense? Next we’ll see disclaimers on shoes
reading “The manufacturer takes no responsibility for the use of
these shoes on slippery surfaces or subsequent falls by the wearer.”

Just adding to your rant,

Judy in Kansas, who will be enjoying moderate temperatures and sunny
weather for the next few days.

I recently taught a jewelry and metalsmithing class for homeschooled
kids ages 7 and up. They had to have one parent take the class with
them, and there was a 2 siblings/adult limit. The advantage I had was
knowing what to expect from 3 of the kids, my son and 2 of his
friends. They had been my guinea pigs for setting up the class. I
planned the first 2 projects and had some idea for the others, but I
waited to structure the whole thing until I saw how things went and
how much help the parents could give.

I was blown away by what kids so young could accomplish. We did
scrollwork pendants, sterling granulation, torch fired enamels on
copper, loop in loop chains, roller printed tube beads, and forged
rings in the shape of coiled snakes (saved having to be exact sizes).
The parents didn’t all get as up to speed as adult beginners usually
do so I ended up wishing I could clone myself. It definitely took
tons of energy (I could be found staring at a wall for about an hour
afterwards!), but the kids all seemed to have a very positive
experience, which, of course, was the goal.

Unlike adults, young kids don’t know this stuff is hard so they
don’t come in with the baggage I saw so often when I taught adult
beginners. They are also happier with any results at all rather than
expecting everything to be perfect. I will add here that working with
homeschooled kids can be very different (and I don’t mean to imply
better or start any off topic arguments here!). They are not
necessarily more skilled than their schooled counterparts, but they
tend to approach new things with a seriousness that is a bit adult-
like, which can be helpful and really funny to watch.

Best of luck with the class,
Victoria Lansford

Hi Judy,

That gave me a giggle regarding disclaimers on shoes :wink:

I think working with kids is a great idea and I reckon it just takes
very careful organisation. Liaise with the group’s leader. Make sure
they are aware of all the potential dangers so that they, as the one
in charge of the group, can do all the necessary paperwork with
regard to risk assessment. Between you you can make sure that all the
necessary precautions are put in place and that there is adequate
supervision for the number of children and the degree of difficulty/

Have fun.

Helen (no longer ranting)

Hi Victoria,

It sounds as though you had a very positive experience teaching the
home-schooled children. I have a niece and nephew who live in
Portland, Oregan and they have been home-schooled since they moved
over to the States in 1994. I would imagine you’re quite correct
that they are different to teach than traditionally educated
children. They do tend to have a different attitude to their
education and in the case of my niece and nephew, are more mature
than other children their age.

I think home-schooling is a great idea and I’d have loved to have
educated my own children that way had I been brave enough. It’s not
as common place in the UK as it is in the States and i understand
you have to jump through a lot of hoops to teach your own children.


I should have said that in any written handouts I always add: "This
article was adapted with permission from the teachings of Charles
Lewton-Brain, the inventer of foldforming. More info at:

Thanks, Charles.

Brian Adam