TinkerLab is the leading blog for making, tinkering, and raising creative kids. It allows you to share ideas for projects that foster creativity, critical thinking, exploration, and tinkering. The blog includes art projects for Kids, Science Experiments, and all things creativity.
While a lot of kids gravitate to building and sculpting in 3-D, finding an engaging sculpture project for young children can be a real challenge. We gathered sixteen winning sculpture activities from five of our favorite art bloggers.
If you don’t have fancy art supplies handy, many of these ideas will be your friend, asking you to just source the recycling bin, kitchen pantry, or garden.
These sculpture ideas will encourage your child or students to think in three dimensions as they build, imagine, and invent. In short, they foster 21st century skills of innovation and creative thinking.
The greatest sign of success for a teacher…is to be able to say, “The children are now working as if I did not exist.” -Maria Montessori
What is Process Art?
Process Art is art that is child-directed, choice-driven, and celebrates the experience of discovery. In process art, the final product is always unique and the focus lies in the creation of the work, not the outcome.
What are the benefits of process art?
There are so many benefits to process art! Process art is developmentally appropriate for young children because meets them where they are as sensory explorers.
Through process art, children…
will think creatively, independently, and imaginatively
will learn about the physical limitations and possibilities of materials.
are encouraged to use creative and critical thinking skills.
will gain confidence to realize their own ideas.
are motivated to ask questions and experiment.
will embrace experimentation and mistakes as part of the learning process.
Why adults love process art
As much as process art is age appropriate and engaging for young makers, parents and educators generally find that process art is easier to facilitate than product-focussed art lessons.
Here are a few reasons why:
Adults facilitate projects and act as co-learners, so they don’t have to hold all the answers. In fact, not knowing the answers can be a huge benefit because it gives adults room to play and experiment themselves.
Process-focussed projects don’t require a lot of fancy set up or unique materials that are hard to come by. This saves both time and money.
Because the goal of process art is to explore and discover, rather than achieve perfection, adults are also emotionally free to support whatever the child dreams up as an ideal solution or end result. No fighting, tears, or half-completed projects.
How to facilitate a process art experience
Offer self-serve supplies that the child can easily use independently
Allow children to come and go as they please
Provide interesting art materials
Allow the child to follow his or her interests
Be playful and joyful in the art-making process
Ask open-ended questions and make objective comments about the child’s artwork
Process Art vs. Product Art
Sometimes I’ll hear people talk about process art versus product art as if they’re opposing ideas. In some sense they are, and I’ll explain what that’s about in a moment. First, however, I’d like to dispel a myth that process and product can’t work together, when in fact they can!
When people pit process against product, they’re generally referring to how children make art. Process art’s goals relate to what happens during the art sessions, while product art’s goals relate to the final outcome.
Something I’d like you to keep in mind with all of this is that we shouldn’t think about process and product as polar opposites because product is almost always embedded in process. When a child goes through the process of making a work of art, it’s likely that he or she has an idea, question, curiosity, or even product in his or her mind. It may not be evident to us as viewers, but there’s always an intention behind the process, and sometimes that intention connects to a final product.
This isn’t really what people are getting at, however, when they talk about process versus product. The debate is actually about the intention behind the art experience itself. Let’s take a look at the breakdown in terms of how a process project and a product project might look…
is Child directed
celebrates the experience of discovery
has unique outcomes with no two pieces looking alike
is adult driven
offers the child clear steps that have to be followed
has a specific outcome in mind
expects the final product to look like a sample
has expectations around a right and wrong way to do it
An Art Provocation, also called an Invitation to Create, is a thoughtfully set up prompt that provokes children to create, ask questions, test ideas, and think independently, all while exploring with art materials.
The adult’s role in the art provocation to create is to set the materials up, ask provocative questions such as “I wonder what we can create with these supplies?” or challenges such as “How can we use these materials to paint something that flies?” Once the materials are set and the question/s posed, the child is free to explore and manipulate the materials however he or she desires.
Provocations cross disciplines and come in multiple forms. For example, if a child demonstrated an interest in owls, you could set up a book about owls alongside drawing paper and colored pencils. Or, you could set up Owl Pellets on a tray with tweezers, gloves, and a diagrams of what could be found inside the pellets. Our favorite painting provocations are easy to set up and don’t require a lot of elaborate supplies.
10 Painting Provocations for Kids
Here are ten engaging Painting Provocations that you can try today. Look over these projects with your child or students in mind. What are they interested in and asking questions about? If the weather is warm and you’re talking about temperature, you might enjoy Frozen Chalk Paint. If leaves are falling in your area, you might like to try ArtStart with Paint, Tape, and Leaves.
The idea is simple: set up the materials, ask a few questions to get your child interested and engaged, and then invite him or her to create. Kids always appreciate making alongside their adults and mentors, so you can play too if the spirit moves you.
Make an easy God’s Eye Craft, also known as Ojo de Dios (oh-ho-day-DEE-ohs), with yarn, sticks, and scissors. The technique is simple, materials are basic, they’re fun to make, and kids learn an easy weaving technique along the way.
God’s eyes, originally come from the Huichol people of Central Northwest Mexico, were created as protective and spiritual symbols that helped them connect more deeply to the natural world.
Yarn Sticks Scissors
Step 1: Connect your sticks
With a small bit of yarn, tie your two sticks together. Knot the yarn so it doesn’t come undone.
Step 2: Wrap the yarn around the sticks
Firmly hold the end of your yarn against the center of the sticks.Wrap the yarn in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction (you decide – just be consistent) around one of the sticks.
Move on to the next stick and then wrap it again.
Keep moving around in a circle, wrapping the yarn around each stick as you go.
If you run out of yarn or want to change colors, simply knot a new piece of yarn to the existing piece and keep going.
Make a knot around the stick when you’re done.
Watch the video for a visual tutorial on how this all comes together.
Watch the Video: How to make a God’s Eye Craft
gods eye video - YouTube
When you’re done, you can hang the God’s Eye somewhere important as a symbol of good luck.
Paper plate weaving is also simple. Instead of chopsticks, you’ll use a paper plate as your base. And you’ll notice we used a popsicle stick as a shuttle to help the yarn weave easily. We also show you how to turn your weaving into a small doll hammock!
You guys…I am so excited to say that the TinkerSketch challenge is back! Brace yourself for another round of fun and easy-to-achieve sketchbook challenges for the month of February. Will you join me?
First of all, this challenge takes place on Instagram, so you’ll want to start by following TinkerLab over there.
Next, you’ll want all the details. Read on for more…
What’s the TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge?
TinkerSketch is a daily sketchbook practice that invites you to experiment and play with ideas and materials in a low-stress, fun, and mind-stretching way.
Who is this Sketchbook Challenge for?
If you’d like to jump-start your creativity with a daily mark-making routine or establish a more regular art journalling practice, this challenge is for you. The stakes are low and it’s super easy to do, even if you have no experience or low confidence with making. And if you’re busy, the time commitment is minimal.
You might have had some time to nurture your creative soul at some point in your not-too-distant past, but with kids, work, chores, responsibilities, name your excuse, you don’t have a lot of time for the creative YOU.
The goal of this challenge is to make time (even if it’s just a tiny bit) to celebrate your creative self through hands-on making.
If you join this sketchbook challenge, you’ll:
Improve your drawing, painting, mark-making skills
Try and explore new ways of art-making
Land on new ideas that wouldn’t have emerged otherwise
Model creative thinking for your child (if you’re a parent or teacher)
Celebrate the imperfection of your ideas
Give yourself the gift of time
How long will it take?
While you can spend as much time at this as you like, just set aside five-ten minutes each day aside for making, creating, and experimenting and you’re in business.
Great, but 5 minutes is still a lot!
There are so many ways to do this. For example, you could:
Wake up a little earlier than usual, brew a pot of something warm, and curl up with your sketchbook for a few minutes before the rest of your home wakes up
Carry a sketchbook in your bag and pull it out when you’re waiting in line
Designate “creative time” where you and your child draw in sketchbooks side-by-side
I’m REALLY not an artist. Are you sure this is for me?
“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” – Michael Jordan
This is for everyone, truly, and you are not expected to make a masterpiece with this practice. Rather, the point is to unleash your creative energy. Your creations don’t have to be works of amazing art, and in fact they probably shouldn’t be all that spectacular, especially if you’re pushing yourself to try something new, experiment, and be bold. Be confident with whatever you create, knowing that you’re on a journey to feed your creativity.
What Sketchbook and Tools will I Need?
While you can certainly go all-out and buy a ton of stuff for this month’s challenge, it’s not necessary. I’ll share some of my favorite tools in a minute, but you will basically need just a few things, and there’s a good chance you already have them:
You will need a sketchbook or a ream of paper
Some mark-making tools like pens and pencils
Paint and brush
“Attaching” materials such as glue and tape will come in handy
Collage materials such as scrap paper, newspaper, old homework, or magazines.
This list contains affiliate links
My best advice is to visit an art store and test out sketchbooks to see which one feels right to you. That said, here are a few tips.
Size. Find a size that fits your situation. If you think you’ll take your sketchbook on the road, find something small enough to travel in your bag
Paper. Choose paper that is heavy weight and designed to withstand water and wet media. Look for the weight of paper in terms of how many pounds it is: the higher the number, the heavier the weight. Something over 70 lbs. should do the trick
Spiral or book-bound. Do you think you’d enjoy a spiral-bound book or traditional binding more? I recommend spiral binding because the pages lie flat easily. Some people like traditional binding more because they can design/paint/draw a double-page spread without having a gap between the pages.
My favorite Sketchbooks. I have two favorites in this category for working with both wet and dry media. Both of these books can handle paint. Strathmore Visual Journal is made of heavy duty paper (90 pound weight), perfect for mixed media, and comes in a few sizes. For easy, on-th-go journaling, I like the 5.5″ x 8″ journal at $6.89. I also like the Canson Mix Media journal that’s 7″ x 10″ for $8.19. A friend just gave me a Stillman & Birn Zeta series and I love it. The paper is 180 lb.
My Favorite Mark-Making Tools
Get yourself a few pens that you love to use, and be sure to have at least one waterproof, archival pen in the mix so that you can paint over your pen lines without worrying about your drawing bleeding with water. Micron Pens are a designer favorite (and mine, too!), and they come in tons of sizes and colors.
My favorite pens. This all-black Micron set of six pens ($10.95) includes a few different pen sizes and this brush-tip set ($10.95) includes six different colors.Sharpie are another wonderful choice with so many options to choose from ($11.78)
Rubber Stamp Markers.Le Plume II Double-Ended Markers with Brush and Fine Tips are useful is you like rubber stamping. Because you can draw with them directly onto the stamp, they give you a lot of creative freedoms not afforded by regular ink pads, Primary, Set of 12 – Writing Markers. ($18.15)
See our Resources Page for a full list of recommended supplies for tinkering, art journal keeping, and art making with kids.
Will there be any support?
For each day of the challenge we’ll share our own daily entry on Instagram (don’t forget to follow me!), along with a few extra ideas in case you need a little bit of inspiration. I encourage everyone who joins the challenge to leave supportive comments on other participants’ images. Since it can be hard to put ourselves out there, it’s always nice to receive a friendly pat on the back when pushed outside our comfort zone.
Do I Have to Share my Work?
No sharing required! Some of us are motivated by sharing, since having others look at our work holds us accountable and we enjoy the feedback and community of sharing. However, you can follow the daily challenge, even peek in on other people’s work on Instagram, and never share a thing.
Can I do this with my Kids?
Can I see Examples of How this Works?
To see images from TinkerSketch past, click over here or search Instagram for #tinkersketch. You’ll see so many inspiring entries.
I’m in! How do I do this?
Print out or bookmarkthe list you see at the top of this page or below. Each day has a new prompt that will inspire you to make something.
Interpret the Prompt: You can interpret the daily prompts however you want. “Drips” to one person may mean flicking watercolors off a toothbrush and to another person it might mean covering a page in marker and then leaving the page outside on a drizzly morning. You can take them literally or not — this is completely up to you. If you’re really at a loss, leave a comment below and we’ll help you noodle through it.
Make stuff: You could put all your ideas into a sketchbook (it is called a sketchbook challenge, after all), loose leaf paper, post-it notes, or something else.
Share it! This challenge can be a totally private affair and you never have to let a soul know that you’re working on it, or you could share your creations with others. I’m a private person, but I find that sharing things like this actually motivates me to work harder. If you’re up for it, we invite you to share your daily sketches on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. Basically, wherever you like to drop your social media mat. Simply tag your image or post with #tinkersketch, and you could also ping us at @tinkerlab to let other people know about the challenge
Tell others. If you could use some back-up, share the Sketchbook Challenge calendar image from this post on Instagram or with a friend, and encourage others to join you on this fun, creative journey.
Support others. Take a moment to cruise around and look at other images that are tagged with #tinkersketch, and leave a supportive comment to build community and basically make someone else feel great about the effort they’re putting into their creative journey.
This paper plate craft is a simple, time-saving way to boost creativity without a trip to the art store.
Wouldn’t it be nice to set up a fun and unique art activity that doesn’t cost a lot and that’s easy to pull off in a few minutes?
Although this is a simple drawing and painting project, the act of painting on a paper plate, which is a new surface to many children, is appealing because the bumpy surface and round shape presents different challenges than the familiar flat and rectangular piece of paper.
Acrylic Paint *
Paint palette (could be another plate) or jars of paint
*We’re enjoying Golden Fluid Acrylic Paints (affiliate) in this post. Fluid paints are thinner and easier to glide across paper, and especially paper plates. You could also use craft paints, which are usually thin, or add a little water to your paint so that it moves easily.
Set up an Invitation to Paint
Here’s one way to set this up. By including a few plates, you’re giving your child a clue that he or she can make multiple plates. This can help kids realize that mistakes are welcome as there can be multiple tries, iterations, and outcomes. It also allows you to paint side-by-side if you so desire.
Experiment with this Paper Plate Craft
Paint different patterns, mix colors, try out different brushes. Keep going until you’re done! As long as the paint doesn’t go on too thick, acrylic dries quickly and you’ll be able to move on to the next step in no time.
Drawing on your Paper Plate Craft
Once the plates are dry, you can add another level to this project by adding lines with marker. We used Sharpie permanent markers because the color is bold and they write well on just about any surface.
We hope you have as much fun with this project as we did.
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