Sunday, August 3, 2014

6th grade Cardboard Construction

Fitting 3D work is so hard for me. When I interviewed they told me that the program was set up for mostly 2D work. We always do a clay project (with choices) and while this year there were a few more options for 3D projects during our Cultural Heritage studies (jewelry and shields), I really intended to open up a sculpture center earlier. With everything else we have to fit in and only seeing my 4th-6th grade students for 40 minutes every other week, it just kept getting pushed back until it finally seemed to fit in the schedule at the end of April. 6th was the only grade to get to do cardboard construction as the only place to store projects was on top of some tall cabinets and there was only enough room for one grade. Maybe this year I'll figure out how to rotate and start earlier so that each intermediate grade gets a turn...
When I introduced cardboard sculpture, we talked about "relief" and "in the round". I don't have enough box knives to go around, and honestly don't trust all my students to use them responsibly, so my solution was to break down larger sheets of gathered up cardboard into manageable pieces that could be cut with scissors into the shapes the students desired if they wanted something other than rectangles. I showed how slits/notches are one of the easiest ways to attach cardboard and loved that several students came up with other attachments like poking cardboard through holes. A few notches were a little loose and required a dot of hot glue to secure the pieces, but most in the round projects did not necessitate glue. Relief sculptures could be secured with school glue since they were laid flat to dry.
This student used small cardboard pieces to attach and "float" his Pac-Man pieces.

Two relief sculptures. Do you remember learning to make "S"s like that? I remember spending a lot of time doodling "SMILE" with that style of letter. The paw print relief sculpture was with school spirit for our mascot, the panther.
Some students chose to paint their projects while others liked the raw look of the plain cardboard.
A lot of these projects seem like models of monumental sculptures. My 3D professor in college said to imagine you were a tiny person walking in and around and over the piece to see if it would be interesting.
I also showed how cardboard is made of two flat layers with corrugation in the middle. Several students experimented with revealing the corrugated texture in their sculptures.

 Here are some great TAB construction/sculpture ideas that I may try to implement in the coming school year
A size tester box to make sure projects are of a suitable size for storage (and not hogging materials)
Limiting most 3D projects to one day, which would eliminate the storage issue...
Attachment challenge/test students must pass before working in 3D center (wish I had time for this!)


  1. Katie, I e done cardboard constructions with my little first graders, very successfully. I hack up shipping boxes on an old paper cutter, so all they have to do is build. I've blogged about the process here: and also here:
    It is a very easy, successful project; no need to slot the cardboard. Hope this helps!

    1. Good to know! I wasn't sure if Elmer's would hold it well enough.

  2. Another easy relief project is a Louise Nevelson junk sculpture in a shoebox lid. I had the rule that nothing could come above the lid of the shoebox, so they all fit into my drying racks for paintings. We used strips of cereal box cardboard to divide up the insides of the lids, and then filled them with stuff to create repeating designs and rhythms, and then we painted them one color.

    1. I love Nevelson. I haven't talked about her in a few years. Last year was my first in my new primary school classroom and now that I'm used to it, I'm trying to figure out more 3D storage.