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Beautiful Stuff: Stacking, Leaning and Balancing


In this activity, you will explore making a sculpture by stacking, leaning and balancing 3-dimensional objects you find at home to make a sculpture.

Grade Levels

PreK – 2



Theme/ Big Idea

What makes something 3-dimensional?

Essential Question

What can you do with interesting objects?

  • Unit & Lessons
  • Video
  • Slide Deck

Materials and Tools

  • A collection of 3D objects found in your home (suggestions can be found in Lesson 1)
  • A piece of cardboard for a base – this can be cut from any box
  • Optional: camera or paper and pencil to photograph or draw your arrangements


Beautiful Stuff Collection

Let’s look closely at your collection of objects. Are they all 3-dimensional? How can you tell? Are there any that are 2-dimensional?

A 3-dimensional work of art is called a sculpture. How can you use your objects to make a sculpture? What are some ways that you can build with them?

Step 1: Sorting by Shape

Before you start, you can sort your objects to get ready to build. What do you think would be a good way to sort them?

You can sort your objects by shape. 

You can also sort them by size.


Step 2: Building – Stacking

Now, let’s get your cardboard piece to use as a base. A base is a home for your sculpture, a space to build on top of. How can you build with these objects in an interesting way?

To make your objects into something taller, you can stack them!

If your stack is a little wobbly, you can put wider objects on the bottom to make a strong foundation for your sculpture. Then, you can keep building up.

Step 3: Adding to Your Sculpture

You can add flat objects in-between other objects.

Step 4: Building – Leaning

You can try leaning long, flat objects. Leaning can make these objects into ramps or slides.

Step 5: Building – Balancing

After stacking some of your objects, you might want to keep adding more objects on top. How can you balance your objects to keep them from falling down?

Step 6: More Balancing

If you have a long, flat object, you can try balancing objects on either side, like a see-saw!

How else can you balance these objects?

Step 7: Looking From Different Angles

Once you’re done, move around your sculpture to look at it from different angles.

What parts stand out when you look at it up-close? 

What do you notice if you look at it from above?

Up Close
From Above

Step 8: Reflection

How did you build with your 3-dimensional objects to make a sculpture?

How did you balance your objects?

If you have a camera, you can take a picture of your sculpture. Or you can always draw it.


Written by Andrea Burgay, Associate Director of Curriculum and Programs 
With support from Julie Applebaum, Senior Director and Sassy Kohlmeyer, Director of Early Childhood Programs 
Hasna Muhammad, Ed.D., Chair, Board of Directors, Studio in a School Association 
Alison Scott-Williams, President, Studio in a School NYC

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