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Paper Sculpture: Twist, Fold, Roll/Curl, Crumple


How can you use your hands as tools to make these strips of paper 3-dimensional? There are lots of ways to change paper! Which is your favorite?

In this activity, you will:

  • combine many different ways to make paper 3-dimensional 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: Making Paper 3-Dimensional

How can you use your hands as tools to make these strips of paper 3-dimensional? There are lots of ways to change paper! Which is your favorite?

Step 3: Twisting Paper

You can pinch both sides of your paper and twist. The paper will become wavy.

Make 1 or 2 twisted strips.

Step 4: Folding Paper

How can you fold your paper to make it 3-dimensional? What shapes can you make? How can you make your shapes stand? Remember to give them “feet.”

Can you make an accordion-fold? Fold one direction and press down, then turn your strip over to fold the other direction and press. Go back and forth and keep folding.

Can you think of other ways to fold your paper?

Step 5: Curling and Crumpling Paper

How can you change your paper to make it round? You can roll the paper. Or you can wrap it around something to curl it.
Make a few curly spirals of papers.

How can you make your paper bumpy? Squeeze it in your hand to crumple it.

Step 6: Combining Ideas

What will happen if you change your paper two different ways? You can twist a strip, then crumple it. What if you make an accordion fold, and then curl it?

Step 7: Arranging

Over, Under, Through

Get your second sheet of paper to use as a base. How can you arrange all of these different papers? Let’s try some ideas.

Can some pieces go over others? Which will go under? Which will go through?


Try stacking your pieces, one on top of another.
How can you balance them?

Making a Support

Larger, stronger pieces can go under other pieces to make them stand. Which of your pieces do you think might be good supports to help other pieces stand?

Can you balance pieces on top of them?

Step 8: 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.

What do you notice if you look at it up-close?

Do you notice anything different if you look at it from far away?

Step 9: Reflection

Take a look at your finished sculpture.

What were your favorite ways to make paper 3-dimensional? Why?

How did you build and arrange your paper to make a sculpture? What didn’t work? What did you do instead?



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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