Three-dimensional art projects can help young children to explore and discover spatial relations, learn about the artistic process, develop fine motor skills and finger coordination, and work with exciting new materials. Through moulding, modelling and construction types of activities, preschool-aged children can build sculptural creations that delight the senses.
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Clay can be an easy-to-use sculptural medium that translates well into 3-D projects for little hands. Although traditional modelling clays stand up better to rough modelling and play, they may be slightly difficult for very young preschoolers to handle. Teachers and parents can help ease the process by tearing the clay into smaller, more manageable pieces that the children can use to build or sculpt. Another option is to press the clay directly onto a sturdy piece of paper or cardboard to create a three-dimensional low relief art project. Beginning preschoolers can simply experiment with this process, building the clay up off of the paper and creating textures or forms. Students who struggle to use a harder version of modelling clay may benefit from play clay or Play-Doh. You can either make these products in the classroom or buy them. They typically have a softer or spongier finish.
Puppetry is a true art form that engages the senses in a three-dimensional interactive display. Although many different 3-D puppet projects that children can try at home and in the classroom exist, young preschoolers may need to start with the basics. A marionette activity may be a unique and entertaining art project for a third grader, but very young children may not have the necessary motor skills to create intricate designs. Paper bag puppets are a simple way to start off a 3-D project with preschoolers. Encourage the child, or children, to decorate a paper bag with markers, crayons, googly eyes or cut paper. Open the bag for a new three-dimensional friend that the child can use for imaginative or dramatic play activities.
Teach your preschooler about recycling and the environment with a reused construction project. Gather together cardboard tubes and rolls, boxes, milk cartons or other similar household items. Make sure to wash and dry all items that will be reused thoroughly for this 3-D project prior to starting. Use tape and/or glue and encourage the kids to explore and experiment with the materials, building free-form or abstract constructions, or try a more defined piece. Young preschoolers can make a pirate's treasure box from a shoebox, a sea creature sculpture from paper towel rolls or a model house from a large moving or packing box.
Make A Mobile
Movable sculptures, or mobiles, can help young preschoolers to discover the exciting connection between art and science. Kids can explore basic physics concepts such as motion and gravity by constructing these three-dimensional hanging sculptures. Choose a theme for your mobile based on current classroom content -- the weather/season outside, shapes, holidays or a favourite topic such as animals or dinosaurs. Use cut construction paper, yarn and soft-ended wooden dowels to create a modern-looking mobile. After the child completes this 3-D project, hang the mobile either inside or out (depending on the weather) and watch what happens as you gently push the sculpture, swaying it back and forth.
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