Toothpick Sculptures — 3D Pyramid Stars

Kids love any oppor­tu­nity to work in 3D and are sur­prised to dis­cover all they can make using just tooth­picks and some mod­el­ing mate­r­ial. After prac­tic­ing a few basic forms, let their imag­i­na­tions run wild and see all the cre­ative ideas they can come up with!

First, let’s begin with some basic vocab­u­lary.…
Tetra­he­dron — a pyra­mid with four faces that are all tri­an­gles
Square-based pyra­mid
— a pyra­mid with four tri­an­gu­lar faces and one square face (The pyra­mids in Eqypt are square-based pyra­mids.)

Cube — a three dimen­sional shape with 6 equal square faces

These sculp­tures require just the sim­plest of mate­ri­als! All you need is some tooth­picks (the star requires 36), and some­thing to con­nect them with. I like to use a mod­el­ing mate­r­ial called “Model Magic”. (You will need about 1 oz. per stu­dent to make the forms shown here.) You may also use raisins, jelly beans, mini marsh­mal­lows, or gum drops can­dies, if you prefer.

These 3D forms are fun and easy to make.… here’s all you do:
1. Form equal size balls of Model Magic, about the size of large peas.
2. Stick tooth­picks into your Model Magic to form the basic shapes of a tetra­he­dron, a square-based pyra­mid, and a cube.

3. Now, make another cube. Use four more tooth­picks on each face of your cube to form new square-based pyra­mids. When you’ve done this on each face you will have made a 3D star!

Tooth­pick sculp­tures are great for group projects! Give stu­dents a chal­lenge or a prob­lem to solve (like design­ing a car of the future) and watch them get cre­ative! Group mem­bers can work together to cre­ate their sculp­ture, write a para­graph about it, plan an adver­tis­ing cam­paign and present a “TV com­mer­cial” or “news broad­cast” to the class. The sky’s the limit!

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4 Responses to Toothpick Sculptures — 3D Pyramid Stars

  1. K-Sue October 2, 2009 at 5:54 pm #

    I love this! I think we will have to try it.

  2. Toni October 3, 2009 at 7:51 am #

    we have done this a lot here we have used marsh­mel­lows in place of clay and it works great. we have also done this as team build­ing try­ing to build the tallest struc­ture togehter.

  3. Anonymous September 5, 2010 at 8:29 am #

    What grade level would you do this with?

  4. TeachKidsArt September 5, 2010 at 11:47 pm #

    This les­son is per­fect for grades 3 and up, but younger kids can do it, too, with a lit­tle help.

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