Found Object Sculptures 

Create a Found Object Sculpture using small objects, a box lid, hot glue and spray paint.

Inspired by Louise Nevelson, second graders created a found object sculpture by working with their classmates. They could bring in an object or choose an object; then they chose where they wanted to glue it and voted on what color the artwork should be painted.

PowerPoint: Found Object Sculpture

Parent Letter: Found Object Letter (Edit it with your school’s info)

Art Display Sign: Found Object Sign

Supplies:

  • Small objects
  • Cardboard box lids
  • Hot glue
  • Donated spray paint

 

Create a Found Object Sculpture using small objects, a box lid, hot glue and spray paint.

At every Showcase, I display a piece of collaborative artwork that the classes worked on together. Sometimes, it comes together as one large mural-type display. Sometimes, four students will work together to create poster-sized art. Because the second grade Showcase was scheduled for January, I planned a project that they could complete in one art rotation.

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Sky Cathedral, Louise Nevelson, 1958

I started by sending letters home with my students, after we talked about Louise Nevelson and found object art. I emphasized that they would not be getting their objects back and that the object needed to be small enough that it could fit in your pocket. I had bags for each second grade homeroom so that kids could give their object to me early. By pure luck, I happened to have recess duty that week, so I also collected their objects in the morning.

Create a Found Object Sculpture using small objects, a box lid, hot glue and spray paint.

I emailed the faculty and staff at our school, asking for donations of partially used spray paint. We ended up with so many contributions! I also scavenged in my classroom and found a bunch of random objects that students could choose from if they forgot to bring an object. I asked the office to save a few cardboard lids from our paper boxes. It was pretty cool to be creating a project using all donated and free supplies!

Create a Found Object Sculpture using small objects, a box lid, hot glue and spray paint.

On the day of the project, we started by talking about found object art and voting on what color the class wanted their sculpture to be spray painted. They chose between two different colors.  I have three 2nd grade classes each day, so I recorded each class’ vote and explained that the color with 2 or more votes would win.

Create a Found Object Sculpture using small objects, a box lid, hot glue and spray paint.

During class, I had a drawing project that they were working on at their tables. I called up one group at a time and had them show me where they wanted their object glued. After I put the hot glue on the right spot, they could choose to place their object themselves.

 

Create a Found Object Sculpture using small objects, a box lid, hot glue and spray paint.

At the end of each day, I spray painted the artwork the color that the classes had chosen. For our Showcase, I used a staple gun to secure them to the wall. (Another reason to encourage kids to bring small objects! There were a couple of sculptures I was afraid were going to be too heavy.)

Create a Found Object Sculpture using small objects, a box lid, hot glue and spray paint.

It was so much fun to see the second graders talking about the sculptures with their families at the Showcase. There were big groups of people who stood and observed the art for a long time! The students were so excited to search and find the object they had added.

 

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Installation Art

Create installation art using everyday materials and change the way people see a space.

Elementary art students worked together to create installation art using everyday materials and displayed them on campus.

PowerPoint: Installation Art

Art Display Sign: Installation Art Sign

Safety Pledge: Hot Glue Pledge

Supplies: Whatever extra stuff you have crowding your cabinets!

Create installation art using everyday materials and change the way people see a space.

For our art program, I needed to do two things: 1) Fill in the weird schedule gap caused by our Field Days. 2) Use up the boxes of donated supplies that I wasn’t going to be able to move to our new school. Installation art was the perfect solution!

I started by grouping our supplies into sets that would work well together. I had pipe cleaners, foam shapes, cardboard tubes, art straws, wooden blocks, popsicle sticks and bamboo skewers. The foam shapes worked well with the pipe cleaners and skewers. For the other materials, I gave each table an adhesive, like masking tape or hot glue.

Create installation art using everyday materials and change the way people see a space.

About a week before we started, I set up a hot glue station at the back of the room. Kiddos who finished their art project early helped glue the popsicle sticks into triangles and squares. Having those pieces ready to go really streamlined the building process.

Create installation art using everyday materials and change the way people see a space.

I made a very big deal about the hot glue safety rules! Each students had to sign the Safety Pledge and wear gloves to protect their hands from accidents. (I was thrilled to find kid-sized gardening gloves at the Target Dollar Spot!)

Create installation art using everyday materials and change the way people see a space.

On the first day, each table brainstormed about how they were going to use the materials and where they would want the sculpture displayed. At the end of each class, they wrote a note for the kids who would be at their table next.

Create installation art using everyday materials and change the way people see a space.

I changed the set-up of the tables as each of the sculptures got to a new step or were completed. By the end of the week, the cardboard tube sculpture took up 3 different tables: one for taping, one for painting the outside and one for painting the inside.

We installed the sculptures in waves; as soon as one was finished, I would assign a table to take the pieces outside and secure it in the ground. Bamboo skewers and tape helped to hold up some of the more flexible artwork. The students taped laminated signs about installation art to the sides of some old magazine holders. Bamboo skewers were able to keep the sign boxes in place.

The installation art made quite a splash! The students were so excited to see the finished projects they had helped with. Teachers and parents also commented on how much they enjoyed the artwork. It was a fun way to introduce an new art concept to our school’s community.

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.

Supplies:

  • 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.

 

 

Embracing Chance with Circle Art

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A collaborative art project that revolves around the element of chance – second graders worked with their table to create sculptures using colorful paper scraps they chose randomly.

Supplies:

  • Long scraps of construction paper
  • Cardboard
  • Paint
  • Art Paste

Downloadable PowerPoint: 2nd Circle Sculptures

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My original inspiration for this project was to use up paper scraps. I saw photos on Art Actually and was excited to alter the project for my 2nd graders. As I started prepping for it, the core goal became to help 2nd graders embrace chance while teaching them about abstract sculpture. I couldn’t be more thrilled with how well the kids responded and how incredible the finished product looks.

Students create abstract sculptures using paper and art paste.

I did the project over two class periods. The first day I combined prepping the cardboard with finishing our last project. We started by looking at Lee Gainer’s artwork; the kids made observations about what they noticed. Then, each table got a piece of cardboard and wrote their table name and teacher name on the back. Then, I walked around the room and had the students randomly pull out four colors and tape them to the back of their cardboard. I explained that these would be the colors they would use to make circles

Students create abstract sculptures using paper and art paste.

Choosing the 4 colors was the first “chance” element and it went over really well. I had a couple of kids say, “Oh I don’t like this color.” But once I causally said, “Well, it’s kind of like a surprise, isn’t it?” they were okay with not being able to choose. The next “chance” element was the paint. I had six closed containers of paint and I asked one person from each table to come pick a container. That was the color they used to paint their cardboard. This step was a little crazy because I had tables finishing at different times. Once a table finished and cleaned up, I had that group start drawing sketchbook pages, which helped to keep them focused.

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There was a bit of prep work for the second day; I spent 15 minutes before each class organizing cups of paper according to the pieces each table had taped onto their cardboard. This made the actual class time go so much smoother. I also mixed up the paste a couple weeks early because I was using a brand I hadn’t tried before. It was a weird chunky mess for several days. I was finally able to smooth it out using a paint stirrer attachment on my drill.

Students create abstract sculptures using paper and art paste.

I did a demo for each class and showed them how to wrap the paper strips around a pencil. I emphasized that you have the “let it grow” by taking it off the pencil and letting go of it. If they dipped it into the paste before doing this step, it would unravel with the paste dripping everywhere, which could get messy! I was surprised that I actually had to encourage them to dip their circles deeper into the paste. Many of them had a tendency to not get enough paste on the bottom of the circle. I also went around with a paintbrush and added a little extra paste to circles that looked like they were about to fall off.

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The finished artwork took several days to dry completely. They definitely took over my classroom for the week! Once they were dry, I was able to hang them up for our Showcase. I used command strips and a staple gun, in the future I think I would just use the staple gun. It was cheaper and held the artwork up better. The cardboard curls as it dries, so I tried to staple them on the two points that naturally touched the wall, so that it didn’t strain the art and cause the circles to pop off.

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Displayed together, these had an incredible visual impact. The kids loved looking at them as they walked to lunch and so many teacher commented on how cool it looked. It was one of those rare projects where both the process and the end product are fantastic!