Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Three-dimensional - Recycled Sculptures

The children create a variety of sculptures using recyclable materials. For ages 6 to 13. Plan 1 to 2 sessions.

  • Creating with recyclable materials
  • Balancing sculptures
  • Building three-dimensionally
recycle, foundation, free-standing, three-dimensional

  • Recyclable materials like corks, Popsicle sticks, empty thread spools, fabric scraps, buttons, small plastic bottles, lids from aerosol cans, pieces of Styrofoam, yarn, and cardboard tubes
  • Fast-drying craft glue such as Aleene’s Fast Grab Tacky Glue
  • Inexpensive brushes for applying glue
  • Small dishes for holding glue
  • Thin wire such as floral wire 
  • String 
  • Masking tape
  • Newspaper
  • Cover the work surface with newspapers.
  • Set out a variety of recyclable materials.
  • Put the glue in dishes and set out with the brushes.
  • Set out the masking tape, string, and wire.
How to Begin
  • Explain to the children that they will be recycling, or reusing, materials to create sculptures.
  • Show the children the variety of items available for making sculptures that are three-dimensional or viewable from all sides. 
  • In order to balance the sculptures so that they are free-standing, or able to stand on their own, use heavier-weighted items for the foundations, or bases. Explain that as an object is attached to the foundation, the balance might need to be adjusted. This can be done by either changing the placement of the object or adding another object of similar weight on the opposite side.  
  • Demonstrate how to attach objects to the foundations using glue, wire, or string. When working with glue, small pieces of masking tape can be used to hold the objects in place until the glue dries.
  • Invite the children to search through the recyclable items to develop ideas and then begin their sculptures.
  • Inspiration for this project came from visiting a local museum to see an exhibit of recycled materials used in art. 
  • Having the children create their own sculptures becomes a hands-on opportunity to learn the values of recycling.
  • Holding objects together until the glue dries can be a challenge. Aleene’s Fast Grab glue works very well and dries quickly. Since it is quite thick and difficult for the children to squeeze from the bottle, put it in small containers and apply it with inexpensive paint brushes.
  • Be sure that the children understand that using too much glue will cause the objects to slip around and take longer to dry.
  • Letting the children make their own decisions about what to make with the recyclable materials allows for creative thinking and a variety of fun results.
  • Are the sculptures free-standing and viewable from all sides?
  • Discuss some of the ways that the recyclable objects have been used in the sculptures. 
  • Have the children discuss how they developed their ideas for the sculptures.
What the children might say…
  • I want to make a lady with this can opener, but how can I make it stand up?
  • The button for my robot’s ear keeps slipping down.
  • Whenever I add something to my sculpture it falls over.
What you might say…
  • To balance the can opener, try attaching feet or pressing the ends into a piece of Styrofoam. 
  • Using only dabs of glue will help keep the objects from slipping and will dry more quickly. Try using a small piece of masking tape to hold the button in place until the glue dries.
  • Each item that you add to your sculpture will change its balance. To keep it from falling over, try moving the added object slightly or attach another object on the opposite side.
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