Tag Archives: cardboard

Sculpture with Found Objects


This project was based on Alexander Calder’s stabiles and mobiles.

Kindergarten students were given a piece of cardboard with a chenille stem attached. I gave them bins of supplies and they chose how to use the supplies to make their sculpture. Some made figures. Others just added materials together in an abstract fashion.

They could string things on as with the beads, twist items in or use glue dots to attach. So fun to see all the different combos.

Putz House


I used to do after school art classes. We charged a nominal fee to cover costs and students made some amazing art along. My favorite year was the year we did holiday gifts. I had come across Putz houses at a Vintage Boutique shop in our area. I just knew my students would love them. There are loads of patterns out there on the internet and I tried to find the easiest ones I could knowing I would be doing most of the heavy lifting. These were done by 2-5 grade students.

I brought in the pre-cut patterns, tissue, and battery operated candles. Students added color, details and a bit of glitter. We used cereal cardboard and only 90 minutes. More time would have been ideal.

One student took theirs home and embellished with loads of extras. I love that this student enjoyed the project so much that she made another one with her family and friends. I think they are simply stunning.

Miniature Accordion Books


Over the summer, I connected a lot with fellow art teachers through my membership in the California Art Educator’s Association. We had Zoom happy hours, book clubs and workshops. It was really a nice way to learn and have fun while we were all stuck at home.

One of my favorite activities was shared with us from one of our members who teaches college. She sent us each a small package with the makings for a tiny accordion book. They were so much fun that I made about ten to share with my family and friends. She sent us chipboard, but I used a cut up cardboard box for the ones I did later and they came out pretty nice. The chipboard is more rigid than corrugated cardboard. I also used decorative tape as I did not have any book cloth. That also worked okay but I have since purchased a roll of bookcloth to do this with my own students. I suppose you could use book tape as well.

Here are the measurements we used:

2 chipboard covers 1.5″ x 2″ each

1 chipboard spine 2″ x .5″

1 piece of book cloth  4.5″ x 2″

2 decorated papers for covers 2.75″ x 2″

1 watercolor paper piece for pages 1.75″ x 22″

White glue, scissors, bone folder or butter knife, rubber band or ribbon

They were so popular that I noticed several art teachers have incorporated them in their projects for their students this year.

For this little book, I chose some travel photos out of a magazine and did not close the spine. Instead, I folded the accordion a little smaller and made more of a flag book.

This one I closed with a bit of ribbon. It seems that the books need a ribbon or rubber band to stay fully closed.

Picasso Cardboard Faces



This is a project I have done many, many times over the years. It is super inexpensive as I use scrap cardboard from just about anything you can imagine. Sometimes, the cardboard is from a package insert like the one above left and already has interesting shapes pressed in. Other times it is just a flat scrap.


Typically I do this lesson when I look around the art room and see that I have been gifted copious amounts of cardboard from the librarian and others or I have just unpacked a supply order or I am at the tail end of supplies and realize I need a lesson to fill in the gaps before my order arrives.


Whatever the case, the students always enjoy this lesson as it is fun and colorful and they can make it as elaborate or as simple as they want to.


For this lesson, the students were given pre-cut rectangles of cardboard. If they wanted a different shape, I offered to cut them on the paper cutter. They also had a few trays of assorted scraps of cardboard to get them started. They could cut the cardboard pieces to their liking. Thicker cardboard is more challenging to cut so if students asked me to, I would help them cut. I always tell them to try things first before they ask for help. I have found when given that directive, they often surprise themselves with how capable they are.


They glued the shapes on with white glue and added color with pastels. They completed this lesson in 45 minutes start to finish including a quick PowerPoint about Picasso and cubism.




IMG_6166 IMG_6167

I have seen several different mixed media jelly fish. This is my version created for the PM4 Preschool class. They are a very capable group with excellent art skills.

IMG_6206 IMG_6164

I was gifted a large amount of cardboard scrap so I cut it into half circles and gave it a swab of white tempera. I also have a roll of this cool looking iridescent paper that is from some business machine that was gifted to me as well. I cut that into strips. I also cut up pieces of yarn for the students. 


When students arrived, they used the string and the paper to add tentacles to bottom of the half circles. I have already cut a few slits in the bottom so they could push the yarn or paper into the slots. I told them it was like flossing teeth. They then painted the half circles with glitter paint (another donation) and added foam shapes and googly eyes.

IMG_6169 IMG_6168

Once dry, I added a craft stick so they can use them as puppets.

Bumble Bee


IMG_6192 IMG_6193

Again using gifted cardboard, we created these bees. Three year old preschool students were gifted lengths of yellow and black yarn to wrap around an oval cardboard.

IMG_6180 IMG_6175 IMG_6176

Once complete, they added wings (that had been pre-cut from donated paper) and wiggly eyes. One class told me their bees needed stingers so I got them some black paper for that. One child even added a mouth. I love when they teach me!


Colonial Whirligigs



Fifth grade students learn much about the colonial and revolutionary period of America. For this lesson, I focused on Colonial toys. I showed them several different kinds of toys. The ball and cup was easily recognized though they all thought it was a strange looking kendama.


We used donated cardboard floor covering, paint and string. I also used wax paper squares to lay the art on while it dried.


I gave each student a plastic lid and a square of cardboard. They painted whatever they wanted onto the circle. They could divide it into fractions, paint famous art, paint colors that would blend together, paint patterns, etc.

IMG_5681 IMG_5680

Once painted, they poked holes in the centers with a hammer and nail and threaded string through the holes, tying the string together. Once the string is attached, they spin the disk by twisting up the string and then releasing it. There are a lot of sites with colonial games you can make just search for them.

37082467 37082317 37081891

Arts Empower Mega Conference



October 9 was the San Diego Mega Arts Empower Conference for VAPA teachers. This is year 2 of the conference and it is actually a lot of fun.

It was held in Balboa Park both last year and this. There were just over 500 people in attendance. It is a little tricky to find all the locations of the sessions as they are spread out all over the park and not all of them have clear signage.

It was nice this year that the museums allowed us to go in for free but I found it impossible to get to a museum AND the sessions so I did not see the benefit in that idea at all. It would have been nice if the museums had given the teachers a voucher to come back on another day.

The opening session featured Siddharth Moran, Mark Doolittle and Ben Vereen all of them discussing how the arts fostered their success. I missed most of that session to set up my book making session all the way across the park.

They had vendors in a room near Panama 66 at SD Museum of Art. I only got there at lunchtime. It was packed and the tables were really close together but I did manage to get around to all of them and gather up some ideas and brochures.

There were many sessions to choose from for all areas of VAPA. I chose to attend Visual Arts sessions, of course. I also prefer hands-on sessions where I can touch things and get ideas and lessons to take back to my students so those are the sessions I chose to attend.

Here are some images from the sessions I visited. I see some new art lessons for my students in the making!

CIMG4976 CIMG4975

Puppets made with scrap cardboard. This reminded me of the hearts I made with the preschool 3’s last year.


Scrap cardboard sculpture-slotted squares of cardboard decorated and notched to create a changeable sculpture.


Crayon resist (hydrophobic) flowers with dampened marker (hydroponic).


Paper mache bowls with tissue paper and botanicals.


3D Images in chalk-uses chromadepth 3D glasses for viewing but nice as a stand alone image as well. LOVED the giant black chunky crayons she had. She said they were from Nasco.

20141009_151955  20141009_154035

Painting with dirt…glue, water and strained dirt used as paint. Interesting concept. Not sure my principal would appreciate the students digging holes all over the school yard to bring in dirt to make paint but certainly a fun lesson.


Machines that move. Oh I think some grade 2’s are going to love this lesson!


The layered self. I would use clear acetate instead of the cut paper or the cut images would be far less elaborate and done with scissors and symmetry instead of using the box cutters and exacto knives this high school teacher uses.


Vegetable print making-I pretty much knew what this one was before I started but it was next door to the dirt painting session so I straddled the two and got the best of both workshops. The teacher for this one came all the way down from Fallbrook!

There were so many ideas and thoughts on arts integration, STEAM, best practices, National Standards and Common, Core. It was a splendid day and a great way to meet teachers from all over the county.

Kumihimo Weaving Disks



This is a pretty simple weaving lesson using a disk weaver. There are loads of versions of this out there. The first time I did this kind of weaving was when the San Diego Weaving Guild gave weaving disks away at their booth at the Fair. It has been a favorite of my students for years.

Once kids get this, look out! Belts, book marks, bracelets and tote bag handles will be everywhere. I use pieces of corrugated cardboard or fun foam to make the looms for this project.


Cut an octagon shape out of a card board or fun foam square. (3 inch square works well)

Place a slit on each flat side of the octagon about 1/4 inch. Put a hole in the middle of the octagon-a sharp pencil is great for making the center hole. To find the center, fold the octagon in half and make a line then fold it the other way and make another line-you should have an “X”.

You need seven pieces of yarn or floss. Length will depend on how long you want your finished piece to be. About 18 inches is a good start for a bracelet.  Once you have cut 7 strands of floss, tie a knot in one end. Push the knot through the hole in the octagon. Place one thread into each slot. You will have one empty slot.

To weave; count three strings from the empty hole. You will pull that string and place it into the empty slot. Rotate the disk and repeat-count to the third string, pull it and put it in the empty spot-repeat. You have to make sure you comb the loose strands of floss or yarn as you go or it will tangle.

Once you have come to the end of the yarn, you can pull the strands out of the slots and tie a knot.

Crazy Climbers


photo (53)photo (52)

The after school art class is the place for doing fun things that we would not have time for in a regular art class. It also allows my former students from the upper grades to come back and do fun art projects.

This lesson came from seeing a friend’s box art projects. She gets a box each month for her children and in the box is everything needed to complete the art or science lesson. For this project, her kids had made a jelly fish with ribbons on the bottom. For my students, they created whatever image they wanted to.

photo (56)

Students used cereal box cardboard, straws cut in half, yarn, packing tape and art room donations for this project. First, they drew an image of their choice and cut it out. They decorated the images with collage, beads, buttons, glue, marker, just about anything they could find.

photo (55)photo (54)

Once they finished decorating, they taped 2 straws on the back with packing tape. We then fed a piece of yarn through the straws leaving it looped at the top. To prevent the string from going back through the straws, students used beads or buttons as stoppers.

photo (60)

29562255 29561978