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!


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.