Found art figures can be made with classroom students as young as second grade, with neighborhood center participants, in therapy sessions, as inter-generational and multi-cultural activities, at birthday parties, or with other groups. Classroom teachers can organize their own found art figure activity or have an artist-in-residence lead their class or school in a found art figure project of 1 – 3 sessions. Boys participate equally in making found art figures.
Begin to collect items which can be used to make your found art figures. Any small household or hardware item might be useable. Put a box in the office for donations of items. Sort your objects. Use plastic containers or shoe boxes to store similar objects together. Keeping items sorted is key to this being a successful project.
Construction methods can challenge student’s creativity as much as the variety of items that are gathered. Have volunteers to help with construction. Encourage students to have a plan in their mind before they start to construct – most usually do this naturally. Younger (first grade and under) students are often more successful at making simple fabric figures. The variety of materials and endless possibilities that found art figures offer can be a better challenge for second grade and older students. Even older students might take a while to get started and need sufficient time to plan.
Allow plenty of time and have lots of volunteers if all of your students are going to nail their figures together. This will make the entire project longer, but will ensure that the figures can withstand handling. If you are going to hot glue the found art figures, be sure to have adult volunteers who will help with the hot gluing. Do not let students use the hot glue guns.
If your students found art figures can’t stand up, have pieces of wood and matt board available so that their found art figures can be mounted and hung on a wall. Encourage your students to make their found art figures as sturdy as possible. You can incorporate fabric and yarn scraps for clothes or hair on the found art figures. (See How to Make a Fabric Figure for additional ideas of how to use fabric scraps.)
Some classes have created hybrids of the 2 projects.
Classroom teachers can use found art figures for storytelling, plays, and other literacy work. Found art figures can be used to tell family and cultural histories. Making found art figures with a child can be a very effective activity for therapists. Therapists can use making found art figures as an activity when first getting to know a child, when they are trying to make an important breakthrough with a child, or as a parting activity when therapy is drawing to a close. Making found art figures can be a fun activity at birthday parties or other gatherings, especially at which various generations or cultures are together. You never know what exciting creations will come to life!