Got some junk or recyclable materials around? Give kids some construction art

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I was recently reading a wonderful book called  The Art of Teaching Art to Children: In School and at Home. One of the art projects the authors talk about is doing construction with kids. That basically means 3D collage. I got really fired up about doing construction and started collecting 3D objects that I could give kids to use for construction.

I was also inspired by a post on Teacher Tom where he talks about allowing the kids the use of glue guns even though they are very young. He says the price of burning themselves a drop, is worth the amazing things you can do with a glue gun. This made me really excited to do construction.

I kept collecting until I finally felt that I had enough stuff for a construction project and invited one of my neighbors, a 5 yr old little boy to come do some art.

It was a real eye opener for me.

Even though I always preach about how we can’t have expectations of how we want our kids projects to come out, I still had certain ideas.

From reading that book, I had certain visions of what he would do. I was imagining these big 3D robots or houses or some way that he was going to use all those great pieces.

When he came in I had a table set out sort of like the picture above with a few more things added after I took the picture.

I saw him looking around a bit befuddled so I realized I had to give him SOME direction.

I told him that he could make anything he wanted with these pieces. I then qualified that by saying it could be a truck, a house, robot, car, person or even just some kind of structure.

He immediately took hold of one of those paper towel rolls and started cutting it up.


I just sat there and watched wondering where he was going with this.

He took one of the smaller cut up pieces, cut up smaller pieces of cardboard pieces and started pasting things all over the place.

He then mentioned that he was making a person.


It was really interesting, He kept cutting cardboard pieces from the rolls and pretty soon it actually started taking the shape of a person.

Then he started taking patterned papers and cutting out pieces to fit the cardboard pieces  for the shirt and pants. He even turned his man over to  put pants and shirt pieces on the back of his person. He also found a pipe cleaner and stuck it through for arms.




As he was finishing up I actually thought that he was almost done and that the piece on top was the head, but he said, “Now I need a head” and he found a piece of cut up Styrofoam from an egg box to use for the head. He then found the googly eyes, yarn and button for the face features and he was done.


A wonderful little cardboard person that looks dressed from the back. He also did get a couple of small burns but, as Teacher Tom said, “it was worth it”


I still had my vision however, of this great big structure that someone should make so I then invited another kid who is about 8 yrs old to come make something. I gave him the same basic directions. He started by covering a cylinder prunes can with felt. He was quite thrilled to be using the glue gun.


And then….believe it or not…guess what he ended up making? You got it, a person also.


He didn’t just do a person though , but decided to use the container  he covered before as a house. He glued it onto a Styrofoam tray, stuck a chimney on it (see how much use you can get from cut up egg boxes) crumpled up a wad of blue cellophane paper, stuck a pipe cleaner in the mans hand and said he as fishing near his house.


He spent lots more time on his man then his house…but he’s a guy I guess. Home decorating its probably not his thing.

Now aren’t those amazing ?It’s so wonderful watching as kids just do their own thing as long as you allow them the freedom to do so. (with a little bit of coaching)

Leave a Comment:

Grandma Bonnie says July 1, 2013

The boys made some wonderful creations with the materials you provided. I would have been a little fearful of the glue gun. But I get the point of the learning experience. I stopped by from Inspire Me Monday. Hope you stop for a visit.

gary says July 1, 2013

Glad to share with another Grandma.I was also fearful of the glue gun but, if you are there with them its an amazing tool

Natalie says July 5, 2013

This is a very fascinating story. I expect my 6 year old would go with a person too 🙂 I have to let her loose with a glue gun!

gary says July 7, 2013

As long as you don’t tell her what to make and be there to help her get used to the glue gun. It’s a great addition to an activity like this

gary says July 7, 2013

Sure I’ll stop by. thanks

Ultimate Homeschool Link-Up #26 says July 11, 2013

[…] Love the ideas in this post: Using Recyclable Materials for Construction Art […]

JDaniel4's Mom says July 11, 2013

So cute! I love that you used recycled materials. I am going to pin this.

gary says July 11, 2013

With this kind of project I think recycled materials are the only way to go. thanks for the pin

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