Setting Up

Get started by providing an exhibition area filled with different types of sculptures children can observe and touch - a stone figurine, a clay animal, an abstract wire design, a folded-paper construction. Together, analyze and discuss the various attributes - shape, size, color, texture, pattern, and so on. Share the folktale Clay Boy by Mirra Ginsberg (Greenwillow), then provide natural clay so children can try their hand at sculpting. As children work, talk about what a sculptor is and, together, brainstorm materials children can use to make sculptures. Set up worktables and chairs in a quiet spot. Have plastic table covers and smocks handy. Be sure to talk about how sculptures don't necessarily have a function. More often they are art objects that are interesting to make and look at. Here are some ideas to help you vary children's experiences.

Nature's Way

Together, collect pebbles, stones, rocks, twigs, branches, dried grass, leaves, and other intriguing items. (Talk with children about why it's important not to pick live plants.) Use chunks of clay as foundations or suggest that children design sculptures using a base of molded damp sand.

Wood Works

Use softwood scraps (available free at lumber stores). If you don't have a workbench, pad tabletops with newspapers. Help children sand especially rough edges. Then take time to look at the wood pieces, feel the textures, examine the grains, and smell the wood itself. Make sure everyone wears safety goggles and help children use a hammer and nails to attach the wood pieces to create sculptures.

Sticky Sculptures

Gather all kinds of sticky materials: labels, stickers, masking tape, adhesive tape, florist tape, colored plastic tape, Post-it notes, Band-Aids, stick-on bows, glue sticks, and nontoxic white glue. Use paper or cardboard boxes for bases.

Paper Sculptures

Construction paper, tissue, white bond paper, foil encourage children paper, tissue, white sculptures with all kind paper, foil of paper. You may children to demonstrate .various with all kinds of paper. You may need to demonstrate various techniques, such as curling. Make sure children have plenty of glue, tape, and scoring and folding. Make sure children have plenty of glue, tapes to work with. staples to work with.

Cylindrical Shapes 

Ask families to send in clean, smooth cylinders, such as paper tubing, plastic juice cans, spools, food containers, and so on. Provide cardboard for a base and let children decide what they need to attach their sculpture pieces. Offer paint to highlight the rounded shapes.


Designate one day to rescue clean throwaways from home and, together, fasten everyone's pieces into a gigantic sculpture.


Ask children to help measure and mix 5 cups of flour and 2 1/2 cups of salt, then gradually stir in 2 1/2 cups of water. Use the mixture to mold various shapes and then try carving designs with Popsicle sticks. Embellish with interesting items. Store molding material, covered, in the refrigerator.

As children work, themes may emerge - permanent versus temporary sculptures, natural materials versus man-made ones. Encourage children to share their observations and help those who would like to display their work in exhibits like those found in an art gallery or a museum, complete with titles, sculptors' names, and brief descriptions in children's words.