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How to Make Easy 3D Sculptures for Kids

by Jean Van't Hul
March 8, 2012
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Try this fun activity creating easy 3D sculptures using materials from home. Children can create abstract designs or concrete objects with foam, pipe cleaners, buttons, beads and feathers. 

3D wire sculpture materials
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We had such fun yesterday creating sculptures with pipe cleaners and styrofoam blocks. along with a variety of colorful craft materials on the table.

This art activity comes from Scribble Art, by MaryAnn Kohl. I had the opportunity to meet her once at an early childhood education conference and the materials we used for this project were leftovers from a session she was giving there! She has written more than twenty books, but Scribble Art is my favorite.

Here’s a video showing Wire and Bead Sculptures in action! And keep scrolling to find out how we made these particular sculptures using foam blocks.

This activity was a hit with both my daughters. Daphne concentrated so very carefully while pushing the pipe cleaners into the foam and she even strung beads and buttons onto them. In typical toddler fashion, she also concentrated carefully while unstringing each bead and button, and ultimately pulling each pipe cleaner back out of the foam.

Child stringing button onto pipe cleaner for 3D wire sculpture

Once she had fully deconstructed her own wire sculpture, she sat and watched Maia, providing commentary and encouragement. 

This was a good reminder to me that Daphne (2 ½ year old) and Maia (6 1/2 year old) can both get a lot out of these art activities. Although they’re at different developmental stages, Daphne still benefits (and often exceeds my expectations) during these shared art experience with her older sister.

3D wire sculpture train

Easy 3D Sculptures for Kids

MATERIALS

  • pipe cleaners (regular wire would work, too, of course)
  • buttons
  • beads
  • feathers
  • Foam blocks (any kind of foam will work – even pool noodles! These were cut from cheap foam insulation bought at the hardware store)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Attach pipe cleaners or wire to foam block

    Use the foam block as the base of your sculpture. Stick pipe cleaners in first by bending some and curling others. I showed Maia how to coil a pipe cleaner around her finger for a curlicue, sculptural effect.
    Curling pipe cleaner around finger for 3D wire sculptures

  2. Add beads and buttons

    String beads and buttons onto the pipe cleaners. It’s so fun to see what children will come up with!

  3. Finally, add feathers!

    Don’t forget to add feathers to your design as well. You can even cut slots into the foam and add buttons directly to it. Here Maia is inserting buttons into a foam block (after first making slits with a butter knife) as wheels for one of her trains.
    Children putting buttons into foam for 3D wire sculptures

Here is one of the finished sculptures – a train. It is amazing to see that some children come up with a very concrete object, like a train, while others will create a much more abstract design. 

Children making 3D wire sculptures

I typically tend towards two dimensional art activities, like drawing, painting, and collage. But I need to remember how much fun we always have with these three dimensional art projects! I hope you have fun with them, too!

Did you know we have an entire page dedicated to fun sculpture ideas for kids? Be sure to check it out!

More Easy 3D Sculpture Ideas for Kids

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Easy 3D sculpture pinterest graphic

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