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So Super Simple Paper Art

October 18, 2010

Pickle (my oldest son) is not a big fan of crafts. Art, yes. Crafts, not so much.

What’s the difference, you ask?

For me, crafts are more artistic activities with a specific end look in mind where art is more about the process (at least at his age) and the “look” is less important. So for us that means that all those really adorable letter shape crafts or “make your own Chicka Boom Boom tree” ones are dangerous territory. I try to nudge in the direction of a specific look or “model” and he rebels.

Enter the marvelous Mary Anne Kohl and her book Preschool Art, which says right on the cover “It’s the Process, Not the Product.” Yes, please!

I did not actually get the idea for this from her book although looking back it is very similar to the “Paper Strip Sculpture.” But since I have been immersing myself in her ideas, I’m not surprised it is along the same lines.

I was cutting out some word cards to use the other day, and was feeling sad about the wasted cardstock I was leaving behind. Bob the Builder’s “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” played through my mind. I then remembered a post I saw on The Artful Parent (where I also first learned of Kohl) about paper art and young kids.

I started thinking about the small strips and scraps littering my floor and EUREKA! I bent a strip accordion-style and wrapped another around my finger for a spiral effect. I kept the rest of the scraps in a box. At school time the next day I put the two pieces I made in the workbox drawer. I demonstrated for my son how I made them and then invited him to make some more. We glued them to a piece of construction paper and added to them, varying heights and shapes and textures.

He loved it! A major winner in his book. He later asked to play again and made another paper sculpture. What I like about it was that he could easily do it himself (he’s almost 6) and it is something we can keep around and enjoy for a while. Also, while he was making it, he would comment about “you can pinch this part here, do you hear the sound?” or “push this and it goes “Boing!.” I could tell that it was really engaging him on multiple levels.

I think I’ll have to check out some of David Carter’s paper art books. Especially White Noise: A Pop-up Book for Children of All Ages where he makes paper art that is all about the sound. There is a really interesting review of the book from the NYTimes called “The Art of Sound.”

Do you have a super simple boy-friendly idea? Share it in the comments.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 27, 2010 8:13 pm

    I just have to know what kind of camera you have? Beautiful pictures you have on your site!

    • October 27, 2010 10:14 pm

      Thanks! I have a Nikon D40. Once the oldest hit 2 I knew we had to get a better camera. The point and shoots just can’t keep up. It has been worth EVERY penny. If you are looking for a new camera, check out He is a professional photographer, and he reviews all the latest makes and models. It helped us decide at the time. Who knows what they have now!

  2. November 7, 2010 6:04 am

    Awesome! (Visiting from Homeschool Carnival.) I love your art philosophy and how you coaxed him into a very fun project. Boys love sound effects!


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