Hands on Sculpture

When we were kids, my brother loved building things. He used toys like blocks and LEGO bricks, but he also built things out of just about anything he could get his hands on. I was more interested in art than building. We never realized that making a sculpture was the perfect way for us to combine our interests!  

I love sculpture because it encourages kids to use three dimensions as they build, imagine and invent.  All you need are your hands and a few simple materials and you can make (and build) art!


Paper Sculptures

Materials (all you need to make a sculpture is paper, but these materials might help you get more creative!)

  • Paper
  • Thick paper for a base (try a cereal box)
  • Tape or glue
  • Scissors
  • Other ideas: tin foil, cardboard tubes, cotton balls, etc.

What to do:

Cut strips of paper and attach them to the base so that they become a sculpture.  If you don't have scissors or tape, try ripping and folding the paper to create your sculpture.

Fun things to try:

  • Roll a strip of the paper around a pencil to make curls
  • Fold paper like an accordion
  • Make a tube with paper
  • Make a circle, square or triangle
  • Use scissors to make fringe
Play Dough Sculptures


  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  •  Food coloring (optional)

What to do:

  • Pour flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir them together.
  • Add colored water and oil.
  • Use your hands to knead the mixture together. You may need to add more water.

Fun things to try:

  • Use cookie cutters, cups or bowls to cut out shapes
  • Roll balls and snakes
  • Form letters and words
  • Sculpt animals, buildings and cars
  • Poke things into the play dough
  • Use play dough with your toys for imaginative play


What if the sculpture you made came to life? In Claymates, two clay playmates get into a pretty big mess when they're left alone!

Sometimes sculptures can help us build something amazing! In Brick by Brick, Luis molds clay into tiny bricks to make buildings, just like his Papi builds bricks to make real houses.

Ruth Asawa used her hands to make beautiful sculptures just like you. You can read all about her in A Life Made by Hand.

Use your favorite book as inspiration to make paper and dough sculptures. Act out stories using your sculptures!  What book will inspire your sculptures?