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Paper Sculpture: Roll, Curl, Crumple, and Arrange


How can you use your hands as tools to make these strips of paper 3-dimensional? You’ve tried twisting and folding in Lessons 1 and 2. What new ideas do you have?

In this activity, you will:

  • explore different ways to roll, curl crumple and arrange paper to make a sculpture

Grade Levels

Pre-K – 2



Theme/ Big Idea

What makes something a sculpture?

Essential Question

How can you build by folding, curling, rolling, twisting, tearing, arranging and stacking paper?

  • Unit & Lessons
  • Video
  • Slide Deck

Materials and Tools

  • Two sheets of paper. These can be construction paper, or any kind of scrap paper you can find in your home, such as printer paper, a paper bag, pieces of magazines, newspaper or even old envelopes.
  • A thin, round object like a pencil or pen


Step 1: Tearing Strips

Are you ready to make a sculpture? First, let’s use our hands to tear our paper  and make some strips. First, hold your paper to tear the shorter side, pinch your fingers close together and wiggle, wiggle a little bit.

Then, pull one side of the paper to the front, and the other side to the back.

Keep tearing to make strips with one whole sheet of paper. See if you can get 6 strips.

Step 2: Rolling Paper

How can you use your hands as tools to make these strips of paper 3-dimensional? You’ve tried twisting and folding in Lessons 1 and 2. What new ideas do you have?

What will happen if you start to roll one of your strips of paper?

What do you notice about your paper now? It made a circle! If it doesn’t seem to stay in that shape, you can fold one end around the other.

Try making a few more rolled shapes, some big and some small.

Step 3: Curling Paper

Is there another way you can make your paper round? You can wrap it around something to curl your paper.

Unwind your paper and see what happened! What do you notice?

It’s round and curly, kind of like a spiral. What an interesting shape! Make a few more curled papers.

Step 4: Crumpling Paper

Both rolling and curling made curved shapes. Let’s try one more different way to change the paper.

Take one of your paper strips and try squeezing it in your hand. What will happen? Unfold it to look at it. Did your paper become very bumpy? This is called crumpling!

Step 5: Arranging

Now, get your second sheet of paper to use as a base. A base is a home for your sculpture, a space to build on top of.

How can you arrange these different papers? Let’s try some ideas.

Is one of your round shapes bigger than the others? Maybe you can stack pieces on top of it.

Step 6: Arranging: Making a Support

Can you find a place to put one paper piece inside another piece?

What are other ways to balance pieces to make them stand?

Step 7: Looking from Different Angles

Move around your sculpture to look at it from a different angle. Remember that sculptures have many sides that we can look at.

Do you notice the space underneath if you look at it from the side?

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

Step 8: Reflection

Take a look at your finished sculpture.

What are the different ways that you made your paper 3-dimensional?

How did you build and arrange your paper to make a sculpture?



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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