What Can You Do with Just Paper, Scissors, and Glue?
As I am always looking for new ideas, especially for sculpture, to transcend the simplicity of the most basic art supplies available to most art teachers, I was excited to discover an approach new to me from a district in-service. Back in class, I changed the size and kind of paper and let my students experiment after they created the basic form. In this lesson, students use two-dimensional pieces of paper to construct three-dimensional forms and then turn them into buildings or other structures of their choice.
The Basic Cube
To make the cube, each student needs twelve pieces of 2" x 4" construction paper. I provided an assortment of colors of precut papers to give students lots of choices.
Fold each paper in half horizontally. Take four of the folded papers and arrange them with the corners overlapping and with the standing edges on the outside. The form will look like the lid of a box (with an open square in the middle). Glue the four corners together, taking special care to overlap and fit the corners exactly together. Take four more papers and made another "lid" just like the first one.
Next, take four more folded papers and fit them into the four corners of one of the lids. The form will now look like an upside down table. Glue the pieces on the inside of the lid with the legs pointing straight up.
Now the tricky part: The "table" should still be upside down, with the legs pointing up. Carefully lower the other lid down to fit over the legs. Holding it all in place, turn the cube over on the table. One side at a time, glue the last legs into place.
After our first cubes were complete, we talked about the possibilities of what they could become and them students were free to embellish them on their own. I provided scrap boxes of assorted papers and extra building papers for those who wanted them. Some made bird houses, some made dog houses, some combined theirs with a neighbor's for a collaborative project, some made more than one and put them together. Embellishments included roofs, slides, ladders, chimneys, flowers, porches, and back yards.
In the in-service I attended, tag board cut into wider and longer pieces was used with fifth graders and all the structures were combined into one very large edifice, so you may want to consider that alternative. I taught this lesson in two classes (one to make the first cubes and one to embellish them) to second and third graders with no problem. And we met state-mandated objectives in both art and mathematics, while having a great deal of fun.
Simple Paper Sculpture
Start with a base of some kind - poster board cut into 6" squares, a tetrahedron made from a square piece of construction paper, or a shallow box form. Precut lots of strips of colored construction paper, 1" x 9." Distribute papers and glue. Guide students through making different kinds of forms using the paper strips. I start with bridges (fold tabs or feet on both ends first) with both "feet" on the "ground," then accordion fold pieces, and then move on to curls with a tab for a foot. After they learn the basic approaches, students can experiment with adding pieces as they like. Additional shapes can be added like the star shown on this one.
Take a 6" or 9" square of construction paper and fold it in half diagonally. Open it up and fold it diagonally in the other direction. Open up the square and make a cut up one side to the middle. Overlap two sides to make a tetrahedron. Glue the overlapping sides together. Make another form exactly the same way. Match two long sides of the tetrahedrons and join them with a rectangular piece of construction paper. The edges of the tetrahedrons should butt up against each other but not overlap. You have now created a mouth/head that will open and shut. Embellish as desired.