Aluminum Foil Sculptures of Athletes: 4th Grade Art Lesson
written by: Ashley A. Fournier
• edited by: Carly Stockwell
• updated: 2/21/2014
Fourth graders will delve into sculpture using winter sports as inspiration in creating their three dimensional piece.
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Fourth graders will create a three dimensional piece of artwork using aluminum foil as their medium. Students are to put their aluminum foil person in a pose resembling an Olympic athlete. They can then brainstorm a list of Winter sports, and how they could recreate that in their own artwork.
The material can be a challenge so students need to utilize problem solving skills and plan ahead in their work so that their figures can have props or sports equipment properly attached to itself.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
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1. Begin by introducing the winter Olympics. A brainstorming discussion can be led by the teacher to create a list of the events that happen every four years. After the list is created the teacher leads the students into the creation of the aluminum foil sculptures.
2. Each child will need a minimum of two feet of aluminum foil to account for the shrinkage that occurs while sculpting. The teacher starts the demonstration by both cutting the aluminum foil or ripping it to create four long strips. It is important to point out that ripping the aluminum foil often ends up with less precise portions.
3. With the first strip the students need to create a ‘lollipop’’ shape in order to create the neck and torso. This is done by gently squeezing and rolling the aluminum foil into a ball. I highly stress not squeezing too tight or else the material becomes overworked and won’t stick to itself anymore.
4. The next strip needs to be gently squeezed into a long strip, and the same for the third piece. These will become the legs and arms of the sculpture. Take one long strip and wrap it around where the arms belong on the torso and do the same for the legs. They may be very disproportionate but I encourage students to just fold the legs back into themselves to not only make them shorter, but to make them stronger.
5. The kids will need to reinforce the sculpture in a couple of places. I like to tell the students to diaper their sculpture, which often enables the sculpture to be self standing. They then need to wrap the torso with another piece of foil making the upper body strong enough to not topple over as well.
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6. Once the main portions of the body are done it’s time to start thinking about details. The students need to consider what type of pose they want their person to be in and what kinds of accessories may need to be created. Encourage the students to build the pieces into the sculpture otherwise it becomes very time consuming hot gluing all pieces on.
It is possible to add paint to the aluminum foil if extra color is desired.
Hot glue seems to be one of the only effective methods of gluing the figure to a base.
I’ve used all weights of aluminum foil and all are sufficient. However, heavier grade aluminum foil is very tough and sharp on the hands.
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Keep the assessment very informal by asking the students during the process of creating the art piece. The teacher can also measure the success of the students by noticing if the artwork was able to stand on its own, or if the figure was too weak to stay upright.
Fourth graders are very creative and successful with this lesson. Once they understand the process of creating an aluminum foil person they often take it further and have more than one figure interacting with one another. The Olympics serve as a great inspiration for this lesson as it allows students to delve into a little bit of geography by studying where the olympics are taking place, and history as we learn a bit about the olympic events.
This lesson also lends itself well to art history as students can learn about the artist Alberto Giacometti who created sculptures in a similar style. Students can take it further by creating additional props to have their characters interact with as well.