Sculpture time for kids!

May 30, 2014

Kids love using their hands, and I’m sure many of you have watched your little ones try to sculpt in a muddy mess outside. Don’t get me wrong, this can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a huge mess to clean up. Check out some less messy options below.


  • Model Magic is a good non-messy medium to use with any age. Crayola Model Magic is fun and safe for all ages. It's extremely lightweight and soft, and it air dries in 24 hours without needing firing or baking. Once dry, Model Magic can be carved or sanded. Paint it with tempera, watercolor, acrylic, enamel, or markers.
  • Paper can be fun too, especially for toddlers. They love ripping it, crumpling it and more. You can use empty cardboard tubes, water jugs and more to build a castle or other imaginative creation. If you supervise and guide, you can help roll paper into cones (affix with a little tape for your little loved one). Stick that on top of an empty cardboard tube and you have a tower for your castle. Make 4 & attach or put inside an empty cardboard box. Then decorate. Your kids can use it while playing Ben 10, Power Rangers or Princess games with their toys.
  • We all remember the traditional modeling clay that doesn’t harden until you bake it in an oven. (Do keep in mind this isn’t as soft as Play-doh, so your kids need a little muscle to transform it.)   If you let your little loved ones use this, it’s a good idea to lay a heavier tablecloth with plastic coating on it down on the surface they are working on. This type of clay tends to be greasy. You don’t want that on your furniture, but you also don’t want paper under because it will dry it out. You can also use old silverware as tools and cut PBC pipe as an alternative (and cheaper) rolling pin to roll the clay out. I like to store this clay in an old coffee container, which keeps it from drying out. If you don’t bake it, your kids can recycle their creations over and over again, which is a perk to this type of clay!


  • If your loved one is a gifted artist, extremely interested in art or older, you may want to consider investing in plaster gauze. This will definitely take some instruction and guidance from an adult or an experienced adolescent, but it’s really easy to use and can create some amazing sculptures and textures. Kids can make an armature using cardboard, newspaper and/or tape. Explain to them that an armature is similar to our skeleton, which means it’s essential for us to function, just like a great sculpture needs a solid armature so it stays strong and solid. Once they’ve created their basic form (Forms are 3-D & shapes are 2-D), they can prepare the plaster gauze. Depending on their age, they may need help cutting the plaster gauze, which is simply gauze with plaster imbedded into it. They will also need a shallow bowl to put water in. Dip the cut pieces of plaster gauze one at a time into the water before laying it on your armature. Use your finger to move the plaster and smooth it out, filling in the holes of the gauze. Do this until it’s covered. Then you can experiment with the plaster gauze and create some really cool textures and patterns. Let it dry for 24 hours before decorating. Acrylics work best, but it can be spray painted, wrapped in yarn or fabric, colored with crayons or whatever imaginative medium you and your loved one come up with. As an art teacher, I have always been extremely impressed with the amazing sculptures kids create from this material.

All of these materials can be found in a variety of places, but my favorite way to get a lot of things is to order them online. My favorite website for art supplies (and one of the most economical ones… trust me, I’ve done my research!) is BLICK! Their web address is

Remember to have fun and let your loved ones’ imaginations flow!


These awesome sculptures were made by some of my amazing past students with cardboard, newspaper, masking tape, sculpture gauze and acrylic paint!

Angela Veninga

Angela touches on all things education for Motherburg. A Brooklyn newbie from St. Louis, Missouri, Angela has taught art education for 11 years. She has been consulting for private clients on how to develop an art curriculum here in New York City and Brooklyn.

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