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Shape Sculptures in K-4th Grade Woodshop

Woodshop students in Kindergarten, 1st/2nd Grade, 2nd/3rd Grade and 3rd/4th Grade are all starting the year working a wooden shape sculpture project that exercises their creativity while providing an opportunity to apply their respective woodworking skills.

Kindergarteners, new to the Woodshop this year, were given pre-cut blocks of wood which they sanded smooth to serve as the platforms for their sculptures, then chose from a selection of curvy, irregular shapes to arrange into a sculpture.

While the focus of the youngest students was on composition and becoming familiar with the tools and materials of the Woodshop, older students approached this project in a larger artistic context, beginning by examining the sculptures and mobiles of Alexander Calder and discussing the use of shapes in his work. Next, students received a “shape sheet” detailing the different shapes available for them to use in their sculptures; 1st/2nd Graders’ and 2nd/3rd Graders’ shape sheet consisted of fairly simple shapes such as a triangle, star, heart and hexagon, while 3rd/4th Graders were able to choose from more complicated shapes such as a rhombus, heptagon and crescent – or devise their own shape.

Because one of the most important elements of this project was for students to think about how shapes interact with each other, each woodworker needed to incorporate more than one shape into their sculpture: 1st and 2nd Grade students were expected to cut two or more shapes, 3rd Graders were expected to cut three shapes and 4th Graders were expected to cut four shapes.

Once they knew what shapes they wanted to work with, students created shape drawings to plan the sculpture they would ultimately create. They measured, marked and cut a length of board from which they would cut their various shapes, and got to work cutting their shapes using a coping saw. Once all of their shapes have been cut and sanded, students will arrange them into imaginative sculptures and have the opportunity to add decoration through color.