Media, materials and processes: 3D construction

Try to use a range of materials to give pupils accessible opportunities to engage with spatial and tactile ways of thinking and working.

Because working directly in three dimensions does not require an abstraction into two dimensions, it can be experienced as more immediate than drawing or painting.

Learning Intentions

  • We are learning to understand the difference between natural and man-made materials.
  • We are learning to consider how we can use them to create three-dimensional objects and artefacts.
  • We are learning to design and make for a particular purpose.
  • We are learning about a range of adhesives and joining techniques to help solve design and constructional problems.
  • We are learning how to create a strong surface on a piece of work.
  • We are learning how to create a range of decorative finishes.
  • We are learning the importance of using all tools safely and appropriately.

Learning Activities

Explore the nature and qualities of a range of construction materials to consider how they can be used, for example:

  • different types of paper;
  • different types of card;
  • brick;
  • stone;
  • plastic;
  • wood;
  • polystyrene;
  • tubing;
  • balsa wood;
  • found materials;
  • corrugated plastic; and/or
  • wire.

Provide opportunities for the pupils to work with materials and discover how to manipulate them to create 3D pieces of different sizes. For example, they could make an armature as a framework for a scultpure from:

  • newspapers, scrunched and bundled to make parcels or rolled to make tubes;
  • card, scored and bent to make building-like structures; or
  • light wire, bent and twisted to create figures, animals or plant life.

Focus on how a light and ‘fragile’ material such as newspaper can create strong structures when rolled to create tubes.

Discuss together the changes which take place in materials during the making process, for example in plaster bandage or papier mâché.

Encourage the pupils to:

  • select and use 3D materials to investigate design problems and present solutions; and/or
  • refine their knowledge and understanding of 3D construction by challenging their ideas and methods:
    • posing questions and highlighting problems; and
    • working to a design brief individually or in groups.

Provide various adhesives such as PVA glues, a selection of tapes, glue guns and glue sticks. Invite the pupils to discover the properties of each one, for example:

  • how quickly it dries; and
  • how strong the finished join is.

Have them select a suitable joining technique and/or adhesive to:

  • create a piece of work, e.g. a mask, a figure or a box; or
  • produce movement, as in pop-up books and cards.
Encourage the pupils to evaluate the strength of their constructions and discuss how they could be modified if necessary.

Ask the pupils to:

  • use paper and paste, or tissue paper and PVA, or any other combination, to create a smooth or textured surface on a piece of work; and/or
  • use plaster bandage to create a strong, smooth or textured surface.

Allow the pupils to decorate or finish their work with appropriate textures, patterns, colours etc.

Focus on how they should handle tools such as scissors, hammers and glue guns safely.