Sport Trophies for Fifth Grade: Update


This week the fifth graders continued work on their spectacular sport trophies. The wire and foil figures are now posed and wrapped with plaster wrap. Almost all have been stapled to wooden bases. Our fifth graders have experience working with plaster (see this post and this post) so almost all finished wrapping the figures during our 40 minute class.


Don’t you love the poses and accessories?

Skier with popsicle stick skis and bamboo skewer poles.


Here’s a ‘wrap up’ (get it?) of all the steps so far:

wire armature made from two pieces of 18 inch pre-cut floral wire

Wrap wire with foil, trim arms

Wrap with plaster wrap and mount

UPDATE: see the finished Olympic trophies in this post!


NOTE: I used three basic supplies for these sport sculptures:

  • Plaster wrap
  • Pre-cut floral wire (aka stem wire)
  • Pre-cut aluminum foil

Pacon 52720 Plast’r Craft Plaster Impregnated Gauze Strips, 20 lbs.

 18″ Pre-Cut Stem (Floral) wire 20 Gauge Bright Silver

(similar product available at Michaels and Wal-Mart craft department)

Pre-cut Aluminum Foil Popup Sheets

(similar product available at Costco and Smart & Final)


Calder Wire Portraits


calder wire portraits

Alexander Calder was an amazing, original, sculptor with a great sense of humor. Our 5th graders had a lot of fun making Calder-inspired wire portraits.

5th grade students made 3D wire portraits in the manner of Alexander Calder. Allow three 40-minute sessions.


Basic wire sculpture supplies. All wires and decorations can be cut with kindergarten scissors.

  • two 4 ft. pieces of wire (cut from spool of 14-gauge Blick Sculpture Wire) (note: compensated affiliate links)
  • pre-cut floral wire, (AKA ‘stem wire’) in bright aluminum, 26-gauge for wiring on embellishments (I call this fine and flexible wire ‘sewing wire’ because it is fine enough to pass through a sequin)
  • soft colored wires, such as Twisteez, pipe cleaners, or electrical wire (be sure it is easy to cut)
  • embellishments: stainless steel pot scrubbers (can cut into smaller pieces, for beard), pony beads, sequins or buttons (for eyes and earrings)
  • scissors
  • copy paper or other thin paper
  • Sharpie marker
  • optional: gallon-size Ziploc storage bag if more than one session is required.

Day one:

Discuss Alexander Calder. I made a Calder wire portrait Powerpoint you may find helpful.

  • Pass out paper and markers.
  • Draw a front view of the face. Make a simple contour and touch all four sides of the paper.
  • Turn paper over: the black lines from the first side should be visible!
  • Now draw a simple profile of a face, including nose and lips. The profile should touch the top, bottom and one side of the paper.

Put sketch in labeled storage bag.

Sketch: front

Flip sketch over. Draw profile view (note front view is barely visible)










Day two:

Pass out bags, markers, and two 4 ft. lengths of 14-gauge Sculpture Wire per student. Students should turn sketch to the front view. Bend one wire around oval sketch. Overlap ends and wrap to secure.

Trace front view with wire

Flip the sketch to the reverse. Place end of second wire at top of profile and bend wire to follow sketch. Overlap ends and wrap to secure. You may have excess wire – do not cut this off yet.


Trace profile in wire.

Put sketch + wires in labeled storage bag.

Day three:

Remove wire portrait pieces from bag and insert the front view through the profile. Secure at joints at top and bottom of face using pre-cut wire and any excess wire. Give students a short piece of wire for ‘glasses’. Add ‘C’ shaped wire ears if desired (or bend out ears from face wires).


Insert the profile into the front view and secure. Add a short wire for eyes.


Side view of assembled wire portrait. Ready to embellish with pipe cleaners, beads, pot scrubbers and sequins.


Colored wire (or pipe cleaners) make fun hair and eyes.


Suspend from ceiling with string or fishing line, or link faces together with paper clip ‘S’ hooks for a giant mobile.


Calder-inspired wire portraits hang in chains at school art show.

Helpful links:

Good all-purpose introductory video movie on Calder.

Here is a link to a past Calder portrait exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

The wire sculpture method for this project was inspired by the armature in this Dick Blick video lesson plan.


I absolutely LOVE Calder’s art, and I think your students will too. Check out my other Calder posts:

Good luck!  If you try this project and post it online, please link back to this post. 🙂


Do you have a favorite Calder project?


Sport Trophy Sculptures for Fifth Grade: Part 1

Most of the 5th graders at our schools have at least one trophy – for soccer, baseball, basketball, dance, etc. Each year the fifth graders create their own sport trophy sculptures using wire, foil and plaster wrap.

2012 is an Olympic year. We begin by looking at photos of Olympic athletes in all sorts of sports. We talked about dynamic poses – athletes in motion – and how much more interesting they are than static poses.

Male gymnast in a dynamic pose

Gymnast pose captured in wire and foil.

(gymnast photo source)

Next I projected some sports photos and we practiced drawing the athletes as stick figures.

I passed out wire figures and the students wrapped them in foil. They had a great time posing them!

Wire figure.

Fifth grader uses reference photo to pose figure.

See the trophies progress in Part 2 (now online) and the finished Olympic trophies in this post.

Japanese Kimono Collage


Japanese yukata. This cotton garment is worn in summer or during a visit to a traditional Japanese bath. Source:

Formal furisode kimono. Source:

Third grade is doing a Japanese unit. In music class, they are working hard on their school play, a Japanese-themed ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ (featuring real Taiko drums). I found this great kimono collage lesson plan developed by Renee Collins at My Adventures in Positive Space.  The project was extremely successful – 100% of students made beautiful collages.

My contribution to this fabulous project is a Japanese kimono powerpoint. We also looked at formal kimono on this website and Japanese clothing on this website.


  • Patterned origami paper (like this variety pack)
  • Kimono templates (courtesy of Blue Moon Palette blog)
  • Pencils/erasers
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Black construction paper for mounting, cut 6″x6″
  • Colored paper scraps

Here are the completed 3rd grade projects:

Princes and Princesses Rule over First Grade

Welcome to the royal art room!  The first grade recently finished their royal self portraits.

First graders create a portrait of themselves as princes or princesses. Allow 3-4 40-minute classes.


  • white paper, 12″x18″
  • pencils and erasers
  • self-portrait template (optional)
  • several shades of skin-colored tempera (thinned with water)
  • watercolors
  • Sharpies
  • crayons
  • sequins, ribbons and lace
  • glue

Day 1:

We started out by looking at photos of royal gear: crowns, swords, jewels, and medals. Students began by drawing the face, neck and torso. Then they added crowns and fine clothes. Most drew castles in the background – some even added their ‘royal’ pets!

Day 2:

The skin was painted with thinned tempera. We painted the rest with regular and metallic pan watercolors. Tiny details (such as eyes) were colored in with crayon.

Day 3:

The students outlined the dry art with Sharpies. ‘Jewels’ (sequins), ribbons and lace were glued on for a final touch.


Students outlined their (dry) paintings with Sharpies.

Sequins make fabulous jewels.

Scraps of ribbon and lace make royal clothing extra fancy.

And here are the fabulous results!












A royal knight.

Some students chose to draw themselves as knights.  I wrote about it in this post.

This completed our royal unit for first grade.  Other projects in this unit are the watercolor resist castle and the clay dragon.

This lesson was inspired by an Arts Attack video.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...