I’ve been wanting to post about these fantastic wood buildings for weeks and finally got around to it. Why is summer so crazy? I thought it was time to relax. Anyway, I hosted a mini art camp for kids not too long ago and all the kids made these fantastic building structures that I am head over heels for. The process was AMAZING. I had to say that in all caps because it really was. Every child was engaged and focused. All the buildings came out different, with their own personalities and stories. Creating wood buildings is a great design project for kids of all ages. It’s limitless in possibilities and a fantastic way to introduce young children to architecture. Here’s a step by step tutorial on our building process.
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We started off with a table filled with interesting and engaging materials including wood blocks in different shapes and sizes, dried beans, wood chips, cardboard pieces, wood letters, and glue. Some of the wood pieces I found at local thrift stores and yard sales. I never pass up a bag of small wooden blocks less than five dollars. The round ones, that served as vessels and roof tops, I bought at Discount School Supply. These are fantastic. Definitely something I would invest in again. The kids loved these the most I think.
I did a small demo on how to use the pieces with glue. I sang my favorite art ditty “A little dab’ll do ya,” that always brings a smile to kid’s faces. We talked about what kind of buildings we find interesting and which ones the kids would like to design. This part is something that can be expanded on in a lot of ways. You can show architecture books, blue prints, make drawings of your design first, go on a picture walk to try and find different styles of buildings, you name it. This post is more about the building process but feel free to get creative. You can work on building and design for months. Have fun with it.
After our discussion the kids got right to work. The concentration was so intense you could hear a pin drop. The kids ranged from 3 to 5 and a half and everyone was engaged. No two projects looked alike.
Once all the structures were complete and the groundwork was done, we set them out on the porch to dry and took a little snack break. I was quick to spray paint them all white over a drop clothe. This took all of ten minutes and spray paint dries really fast.
I am a huge fan of spray painting art white before painting. It gives such an engaging clean slate for imagination. I only wish the cans had more paint in them. It took me a full can to paint 7 structures, which doesn’t seem like much at 9 dollars a can from Michaels. I used this kind of spray paint though, which I see now is only 3.67 on Amazon. Oops.
We used regular tempera paints (I like these) in small jars and containers that I had prepared while the kids were eating snack. I like to mix a little white into all the colors to give them a nice opaque feel. Mixing paint is also something I’ve done many times with the kids. You can put the primary colors in squeeze bottles and have each child pick a combination of two colors to mix. Then add white. You can see how we mixed paints for our Self-portraits here.
Again, the concentration was palpable. All the kids had their own ideas about what colors they wanted and where they wanted to paint. It’s so nice to just sit back and observe as kids find their way in their own creations. I love it.
The wood letters were a great detail for the early readers in the bunch. I just love Liam’s Cafe below. It was a little hard to glue the letters to the curved knob so we busted out the glue gun for that part. I glued on the pieces as the designer directed me.
After the last structure was painted, we gave them all a little time to dry and worked on some other things. As I mentioned earlier, this kind of building process can take an hour or so, or you can extend it over a longer period of time. We worked on these buildings over the course of two days.
The last step was to take some painted wood beads, glue, silver and gold paint and jewels and embellish our structures. Adding metallic paint at the end of any project is a great important touch that really excites young children. I like to keep it in a special jar and bring it out at the very end, to emphasize it’s importance. The jewels were also a big hit for a final touch.
Everyone was so proud of their structures. If given more time I would love to write little stories about them with the kids or have the kids dictate a note explaining all the details of their building. With another group I worked with we had time to make little peg pom pom people like in the pic below. These were a huge hit. Click on over to my guest post on Mollymoo to see how we made them. Enjoy and thanks for reading along.
Meri, these photos are stunning. I can literally feel the kids thinking! What a fantastic resource of a post for so man people. I LOVE THIS!
Looking at your photos is like being transported into your world…always so interesting and you know how to capture the moment so well. I love this post!! I have been so inspired by all of your woodworking…we are definitely adding it to our ‘curriculum’ !! xo bar
This is an incredible project!!!!! I love the parts laid out just ready for the making…..
Thanks Ana. It’s one of my all time favs for kids. So many possibilities.