Saturday, June 8, 2013

6th Choice- Cardboard Construction

My first post about 6th graders' choice project explained how it worked and sort of focused on collaborative projects. I had a hard time dividing all my photos up into project categories. I think about 3/4 of the construction projects were also collaborative. Some students built their own structures but helped each other when extra hands were needed to glue. Some students built their structures together from the planning to the painting. You might notice from the photos that there are lots of students working on the floor. I don't have my classroom set up in stations (yet) but have no fear, the students made their own! I had a couple tables scooted closer to outlets for glue guns but when those spaces were full, others solved the problem and found a spot.
*Note to self- invest in some extension cords or power strips to make hot glue guns easier to use!
I had a hunch that cardboard would be a popular material when my 6th graders designed their own lessons for their final elementary art project, but I had no idea just how in demand it would be! Thankfully, I had a lot of big sheets leftover from our bottle cap artwork and after our social worker saw we were using cardboard, she started saving inserts from the BackSnack program for us. I've already got quite the stash started for next school year. I have a small box of box cutters but I had never let the students use them before. That changed with this project. If students didn't have experience using a box cutter or had a complicated cut to make, I helped them. However, I found that most of the students wanting to build with cardboard had already used box cutters at home, or were at least comfortable using the cutters after I reminded them to keep their appendages out of the way. I also gave lots of reminders about putting a beat up piece of cardboard underneath to protect the tables and the floor. Another popular construction material was Art Straws. I inherited a couple of big boxes and we finally had a chance to use them.
I think there is a future engineer in this student! His bridge design was super precise, though it looks simple. Craftsmanship was also really nice.
 Here are a couple partner construction projects in the works. One group is working on table top while another works on the floor. You can also see the current organization method for cardboard scraps... I'm trying to come up with a good method for next year.
This student was the lone girl to choose construction. Right away, she had a clear idea which she described to me as wavy buildings with bright colors. She was probably the most competent with a box cutter. I like how she included negative space in her design and thought to cover the raw corrugated edges of her structure with ric-rac and yarn around the edge of the base. It reminds me a bit of Dr.Seuss architecture!

This last project was made by a student who I didn't know really had an interest in art before he started building. He had never caused any trouble, just didn't seem that into it. Once he started working on this project, I couldn't keep him out of my room! I'm only at my intermediate school two days a week but I think he spent every recess and extra block of time in the art room on those days. It started as one house, then he added the second, attached them to the base, added trees, and on the last work day he made the jeep that's a little hard to see in the center of the photo.
Construction gave the students tons of opportunities to design and solve problems and use visual-spatial skills. They had to think in three dimensions, which is something my students don't usually get much experience with due to storage problems. I think that TAB would help correct this problem. It's a lot easier to store 25 3D structures at a time than storing 130! I'll still have to think about what to do when more than one grade is allowed to explore 3D at once because that could put the project numbers back over 100. I'm hoping to get some open shelving to put above my built-in storage and may be able to use some of the metal shelves in my closet when supplies stored there get moved out into the regular work space.


  1. the rick rack is a great way to make the cardboard look polished! how did she attach the vertical pieces?

  2. I really love the "Dr. Seuss" constructions! She had a clear vision; very cool indeed....

  3. Hi! I just love your project!
    I am transitioning from a classroom teacher to Art teacher. I was wondering what instructions you gave them before they started and how much time was allowed for this project.

    1. Hi Jackie,
      The students had 3 class periods to work on a project they designed. Some students drew, some painted, some worked with fibers, some constructed with cardboard. I told the students they would be working like real artists, designing something they were interested in making. The project had to be something that would take more than one class period, be school appropriate, require thought and effort. I asked them to run their ideas by me but I pretty much approved it if I could tell they thought about it and we had the supplies. Here's the first post about the project: