Art Inspired Activity

Cardboard Building Lesson

Drawings and paintings by L.L. FitzGerald were heavily influenced by his surroundings, his home, and the houses in his neighbourhood of St. James in Winnipeg.  FitzGerald created two-dimensional pieces of artwork, but what if he were to create his artwork as three-dimensional representations, and what if he challenged himself to use the materials he had on hand?


  • Cardboard boxes (cracker boxes, cereal boxes, toothpaste boxes, etc.)
  • Tape (whatever tape you have on hand, masking tape, scotch tape, duct tape, etc.)
  • Pen or pencil
  • Scissors
  • Papers that are going to be discarded (such as envelopes, scraps of paper, or flyers)

Bonus Materials (if you have them):

  • Glue (white glue or a glue stick)
  • A ruler
  • Colouring materials (markers, crayons, pencil crayons, or paint)
  • Magazines to use for collage (for cutting and pasting images, patterns, and textures)

Activity for students:

  • Chose a building that you are familiar with to recreate in the form of a sculpture. This could be a sculpture of the building that you live in, or a house of someone you know, or it could be of your school.  It will need to be a building that you can see from your home, or a building that you have a photograph of.
  • Using the materials that you have on hand, create a three-dimensional sculpture of a building that you know.

Tips for constructing the sculpture:

  • Look at the cardboard boxes that you have to use and select the box or boxes with the shape that best matches the building you will be recreating as a sculpture.
  • Use strips of tape to stick together the cardboard boxes, adhere half of the tape on one of the boxes and half of the tape on the other box.
  • Use a pencil to draw the lines of windows, doors, archways, etc. before cutting them out with the scissors.
  • Think about adding details to your building such as siding or brickwork which can be made using pieces of cut cardboard.
  • Keep referring to the original building you are recreating and continue to cut and tape cardboard to assemble your sculpture.
  • When the structure of your sculpture is complete, you can begin to add details.
  • Tape or glue discarded paper to the cardboard structure, to provide a fresh and tactile surface to add colouring material to.
  • Look for textures, patterns, and images in old magazines to add elements of collage to your sculpture.
  • What other things can you find in your home to add to your sculpture? Do you have old toys that can be part of the sculpture, are there branches outside that you can add?  Perhaps some clear plastic recycling materials could be used as windows?

Reflection questions:

  • What do you notice about the building now that you are looking closely to recreate it that you had not noticed before?
  • If you were to give your sculpture a title, what would you call it?
  • Look at your sculpture at different times of the day. How does the lighting in your home impact the sculpture?

Note to teachers, parents, or guardians:

This sculpture making activity can help students to feel a sense of security during these uncertain times, through creating their own small contained space.  During this time of social distancing, we can feel removed from the buildings and places that are important to us.  Recreating these spaces can help students to gain a sense of control help to remind us that these special places do exist in our lives, and they will continue to be important places for us once this time of social distancing has ended.  If a student chooses to recreate their home, this can be a way to celebrate the safety that their home has provided them during this time of social distancing.


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