Monster Sculptures

Introduce students to sculpture with tube monsters!

Third grade art students created three dimensional monsters by painting their design onto a cardboard tube, then hot gluing “extras” onto their artwork.


  • Toilet paper tubes
  • Sharpie
  • Tempera paint
  • Brushes
  • Hot glue
  • “Extras” like googly eyes, gemstones, pom poms, feathers, colorful wire

I like to finish the quarter with a project that introduces my students to the difference between 2D and 3D art. I don’t have a kiln this year, so I decided to create a project using materials that were easier to work with. After reading this post on Redefine Creativity, I knew that creating monsters out of toilet paper tubes would be a great fit! I sent out an email at the beginning of the year letting teachers know I was collecting toilet paper tubes. I also told my students that they could donate them for an art ticket. I ended up with enough tubes to last 4 years!

Introduce students to sculpture with tube monsters!

I organized my curriculum so that this project is right after our Pop Art painting project. This way the procedures and techniques for painting are still fresh in my students’ minds. After discussing the difference between 2D and 3D, they sketch their monster onto the tube. I emphasize that the design should go all the way around the tube. If a student has trouble with that idea, I ask them, “What do you think the back of the monster might look like?”

Introduce students to sculpture with tube monsters!

After drawing it in pencil, they trace over the lines with Sharpie. This step is essential! Painting such small details on a curved surface can be tricky. Having the bold lines helps to keep the design from getting lost. This project goes fairly quickly, many students will be done tracing by the end of the first class period. I let them work on an old sketchbook project and then we all start paint on the second day.

Introduce students to sculpture with tube monsters!

Most students finish painting on the second day. After the paint dries over night they are ready to add their “accessories” on the third day. Some students will still need to paint on the third day. I usually have them choose the “extras” they want to add on and then help them hot glue it during an Art Centers day.

Introduce students to sculpture with tube monsters!

A sketchbook project is essential to having Hot Glue Day go smoothly! For this project, their prompt is to draw and color their monster’s family. I have 4 “shopping baskets” and I tell the students I will choose who will “go shopping” first based on who is focused on their sketchbook project. Each student brings their painted monster tube and chooses 7 items that they want to add to their monster. They can choose 7 different things or they could decide that they want to have all 7 items be the same thing.

Introduce students to sculpture with tube monsters!

At the beginning of class I show everyone a couple of techniques for taping some of the objects on. I stand at the front of the “shopping” line and help each student hot glue the things that can’t be taped. Past the hot glue station, I have a tape station, so that students can tape down the feathers and wires while I’m still close by in case they run into any problems.

Introduce students to sculpture with tube monsters!

Initially, I felt like this project was a little too “crafty” for my taste. But after seeing how well it reinforced the idea of three-dimensional art, I’m glad I tried it out. There is so much room for each student to think creatively; it’s exciting to see how unique each monster is. The kids really look forward to doing this project and they love seeing all of their monsters on display at the Showcase at the end of the quarter.




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