Kids’ Sculptures with Styrofoam and Bamboo Skewers


Kids Sculptures with Styrofoam and Bamboo Skewers

We splurged and bought Daphne a wooden kitchen for her birthday, and she LOVES it. But she and Maia have also been loving all the packaging that came with the kitchen. The large cardboard box now has a door that can open and close and is in regular use as a fort, reading spot, and play space.

The styrofoam packaging from the box? It's being used as well!

Kids Scultpures with Styrofoam 1

When I saw the cubes, circles, and chunks of styrofoam that the kitchen was packed in, I immediately envisioned abstract sculptures. I picked up an inexpensive package of bamboo skewers from the grocery store to connect the pieces (like the toothpicks in the grape & toothpick sculptures).

Kids Scultpures with Styrofoam 3

And then yesterday, when the girls were both home recovering from a stomach bug, I brought out the styrofoam and bamboo skewers and they set right to work. Maia built an elaborate, multi-level sculpture. And Daphne poked the skewers into individual styrofoam pieces, creating "lollipops."

Kids Scultpures with Styrofoam 4

Here's Maia's very modern looking sculpture.

Kids Scultpures with Styrofoam 6

And Daphne's bouquet of styrofoam lollipops.

So, next time you get a package with styrofoam like this, consider keeping it for some kids' sculpture building! 

I'd like to get better about saving recyclables for art making. Our house is small and we don't have any great spot for keeping them (they tend to pile up and look like clutter and trash), so usually they go straight out to the recycle bin. But perhaps it's time to reorganize the studio and add in a good, organized space for collecting and creating with recycle bin materials. 

Do you keep recyclables for art? Any tips for storage or organization?


  • Reply
    September 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    My boys do this all the time. We have boxes sorted with different types of recyclables and then they can justt get at them when needed.

  • Reply
    September 19, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Whenever my mom watches the kids (which is every day now!), they routinely raid the recycling box for building materials. It’s really just using whatever is there at the time for unplanned construction. Some days it’s a lot of rolled up tubes of newspaper, some days it’s elaborate sculptures. Other days they go box-hunting at the grocery store to build castles or trucks, accessorized by random recyclables.

  • Reply
    Debbie Way
    September 19, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Hi Jean! I’ve been trying to find a way to email you. I’m a senior editor at FamilyFun magazine and would like to discuss running one of your craft ideas in the magazine… Please drop me a note and we can discuss further.
    Thanks! – Debbie

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    September 19, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Sorry about that, Debbie. I have my email address on my about page, but I don’t think it’s terribly prominent. I will send you an e-mail!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    September 19, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    I love that they go box-hunting at the grocery store!!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    September 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Sounds like a system that I need!!

  • Reply
    September 19, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    that- is- something-cool.
    I need to run through my storeroom for styrofoam.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    September 21, 2012 at 10:54 am

    hi Jean ~ i just left you a note on facebook. first of all, you are awesome, I LOVE following your site. I’m an art teacher, and my studio is in my renovated garage, a fun happy space (
    I LOVE doing recycle-art w/ the kids, sooo… TONS of recyclables in every nook and cranny!! (my husband calls me a hoarder – hmmm, is that a compliment, haha!)
    I recently renovated an old school bus to take my studio on the road, and the focus is EcoCrafting!!!!
    I would LOVE to chat if you have time… email me!!

  • Reply
    September 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Funny how you mention buying your daughter a wooden kitchen set…my husband and I are looking at them as well for our daughter. Any ones you recommend?

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    September 21, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Hi Lisa – We bought this wooden kitchen from Pure Play Kids( and love it. It’s really well made and has nice proportions and features. I like that it has a shelf for holding food and bowls and pots etc. Also a little sink. Daphne LOVES it! We researched a few different kitchens, but didn’t do a whole lot of looking around, though, just so you know. It’s not cheap, but if you go with that one, use the coupon code ART15 for 15% off — they are one of my blog sponsors.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    September 21, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    What a fun site you have, Laurie! I love the idea of a bus as art studio!! I’ll send you an e-mail…

  • Reply
    September 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    I would love to get some ideas on organizing and storing recyclable stuff for art projects as well! We live in a 2 bedroom apartment with our twins and it’s awfully cramped. Hoping to move by the beginning of the year as we have baby #3 on the way! But until then, I’m always on the lookout for creative ways to store and organize. :)

  • Reply
    April 23, 2018 at 11:28 pm

    Love your ideas! Wish I had chanced upon them earlier. Just wondering, in your experience, how long can the Styrofoam pieces be used and reused with the kids? I really want to set up a recyclables construction zone. Thanks in advance!

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      April 24, 2018 at 5:04 am

      I can’t say I really know, Sheila, as we haven’t used and re-used them repeatedly. I like the idea of setting up a recyclables construction zone, though! I imagine it depends a good part on how vigorously the styrofoam is used by the kids. If you do this, perhaps you could check back here and let us know how it’s going?

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