"In this classroom, relationships are fostered, families are respected, and children are honored.
In this classroom, nature's gifts are valued and children's thoughts are captured.
In this classroom, learning is alive and aesthetic beauty is appreciated." -Unknown

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

3D Recycled Art with a Technology Twist

It all started back at the beginning of April. I received an e-mail in my work inbox that caught my eye. I don't  know how I got on the mailing list for We Are Teachers, but am so glad I did. It highlighted a preschool class that had made art from recycled materials, named empty water bottles. Click on this to get to the original article that caught my eye: Recycled Bottle Art. I knew it was something we HAD to do and I wanted to put a twist on it. I had recently been given an iPad to "try out" in the classroom. Now, I'm one of those teachers that doesn't necessarily want to have a computer for the kids in the class. I believe most kids get plenty, if not too much screen time at their homes. However, I know there is a place for technology in the classroom and wanted to use it as an educational support and a connection with families. I began thinking about my plan of action and got excited.

My first step was sharing the idea with the kiddos and getting them enthused, as well. I showed them the images of what the other preschoolers had created from recycled water bottles including animals, trains and robots. They began getting excited, too.

I then sat down with each student and with my iPad in hand had them tell me about what they wanted to create, if their bottle would be standing up or lying down, sketching out their idea, and then coloring it with the colors of paint they would be using. This is a short video to show you the planning process of one of my kiddos. 

Imagine sitting down and doing this with twenty-one students. I did. It was definitely a process. The video above was the shortest and the longest one was closer to eleven minutes. 

After the planning was complete, our next step was beginning the paper mache process. I mixed up the paper mache mix and used strips of newsprint paper (without print). It was super messy and my kiddos either loved it or loathed it. There wasn't a lot of in between. 

Each child chose a water bottle they wanted to use. I placed their drawing on the table as a reference. 

I would press the strip down in the mixture then pull it through my fingers. I then handed it to the kiddos to begin wrapping around their bottle base. 

This friend really liked how the mixture felt in her hands. Actually, most of the kiddos didn't mind it, but there were a few that really didn't like it. It was great to have a new experience for them. 

We then put the bottles aside to dry. Our Nana Teri told me about celluclay, which would be ideal for adding features to the projects such as heads, ears, legs, tails, etc. and she donated the celluclay and all the paint. Thanks, Nana Teri!! After they were dry, we mixed up the celluclay, which can be found at Michaels and used to for some detail work.  

After the celluclay dried completely, they began painting their project. The base-coat went on first. After it dried completely, additional features were added. 

After all the kiddos completed their painting we once again set the projects aside to dry and then we were ready for our Open House. I displayed each child's 3D recycled art along with their drawing and a nameplate. 

When the parents arrived for the Open House, they were given a guide of things to have their docent (knowledgeable tour guide AKA their child) show them. These items included our nature chandelier, the worm farm bin, the silk worms, the tadpoles, the butterfly habitat and the 3D art projects. They were also instructed to see me to view their child's planning process on the iPad. I had identified a file with their child's name on it and they were able to sit with their child and watch it. 

The parents loved watching their child's process and the kiddos loved seeing themselves in the video. It was a process putting it all together, but it was a grand success!


  1. Fantastic,Barbara! And bless you for taking the time to go through the planning process with all of them. That must have taken a while! I was fascinated to see that the little guy in the video draws and prints with his right hand, and colours with his left! And yes, my guys are the same with paper mache. Some love it, and some cannot stand it! lol

    1. It was quite the process, but it was worth it. This little guy usually works mostly with his left hand. I think he's still trying to figure it out. Great observation.

  2. What a wonderful process!! The art came out beautifully as well. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!