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3-Dimensional Art Projects for STEAM Learning with Young Children

Mar 09, 2023    |   Art & MusicSTEM Learning

3-dimensional art projects are an enjoyable and unique way for children to express themselves artistically and explore many aspects of STEAM learning. As children create sculptural art, they also use math and engineering principles like balance, spatial awareness, and innovation. And, as an added bonus, 3-D art creations can be displayed and hung in your classroom, making unique decor that highlights children’s learning. 

In this article, you’ll find interesting STEAM art projects to enjoy with the children in your care.

Stick Wind Chimes

For this simple activity, you’ll need the following materials: sticks/twigs, pony beads, pipe cleaners, jingle bells, and beading wire (or string). As an added fun step, take children for a nature walk to collect the sticks that they will use for their wind chimes before starting this project! 

To make the wind chimes, first help children wrap the sticks with pipe cleaners. Next, thread the pony beads onto the beading wire or string. After the beads have been strung, cut each piece of beaded wire into 3 pieces and attach them to the stick by looping each one through the pipe cleaners and twisting or tying it closed. (Twisting the wire is a great opportunity for fine motor skill-building!) Older children will likely be able to do this step on their own, while younger children will need assistance. Finally, add the jingle bells to the bottom of each strand so that they make noise when blown in the wind. Hang them outside in trees and other places in your yard where children can easily observe them.

Colorful Pasta Sculptures

This fun activity uses painted pieces of raw pasta and pipe cleaners that children can use to make interesting and colorful sculptures! Start by preparing sculpture stands: use pieces of wood with holes drilled into them (this will have to be prepared by educators). Or, for a simpler option, use blocks of foam that children can poke their pipe cleaners into. 

Once the stands are ready to go, offer raw pasta to children with tempera paint and brushes so that they can paint the pasta different colors. Let the pasta dry overnight, and then make sculptures the next day by encouraging children to thread pasta pieces onto the pipe cleaners and put them into their stands to create sculptures. Notice the different colors and shapes that children use for their creations! 

Plastic Jar Lanterns

This colorful craft uses recycled plastic jars to make hanging lanterns that can be hung in your classroom. This activity from Art Bar Blog uses recycled mayonnaise jars, but you could create a similar craft using empty water jugs or soda liter bottles. 

To set up this project, start by cutting the tops off of the plastic jars to make an open lampshade-like shape. Next, gather your materials for collaging. You can use pieces of tissue paper as well as coffee filters and newspaper scraps painted by the children. Then, encourage children to use mod podge to make a collage on the outside of the lanterns. After the lanterns have dried overnight, help children to use string, pieces of paper, and colored tape to make tails that can hang from the lanterns.

Beaded Wire Sculptures with Recycled Hangers

Wire is a unique material for art that is filled with possibilities for creative expression and sculpting different shapes. This simple activity uses floral wire and recycled wire coat hangers and wooden beads to make interesting sculptures. Start the project with a piece of floral wire, about 18 inches long, and encourage children to put as many beads on their wire as they would like. Once they are done, twist the two edges round each other to create a circle.

After the circle is formed, help children cut shorter pieces of wire (about 8-10 inches) and twist one side anywhere on their circle to connect it. Older children might be able to twist it on their own, but younger children will likely need help bending the wire into place. Encourage children to add more beads and continue repeating the process (adding more wire and beads) until they are happy with their creation. Then, invite children to add ribbons, pipe cleaners, or any other materials that interest them to complete their art project. When they’re finished, hang the sculptures in your classroom for children and families to enjoy! 

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