3rd Grade – Aliens! Found object sculptures

3rd Grade – Aliens! Found object sculptures

Description of the Unit –

This unit supports the interdisciplinary 3rd grade unit of study on space and the universe which students are working on in science, history, music and writing as well as art. In art class students will construct alien creatures out of repurposed objects, and design planets in oil pastels for the backdrop in their music show. This post will focus on the found-object aliens.

3rd grade – found object alien sculptures in progress: next step would be painting them

Activity statement –

Egg cartons, spools, coffee filters, utensils, clothespins…how can these and other recycled, repurposed materials be used to construct a wild, weird alien creature? Use your imagination!

Students absolutely LOVE this project. When I bring out the boxes filled with all kinds of objects, they go nuts looking through everything and imagining what various objects can become. One of my favorite things about this class is listening to how proud they are of their creations. Years later some students will tell me they still have their alien, proudly poised on a shelf in their bedrooms next to trophies and photographs.

In kindergarten students explored the world of found object sculpture, getting to know various artists in the field and attempting their own sculptures. Those sculptures were abstract creations in order to support their growing understanding of the term ‘abstract art’, so this will be their first foray into turning found object sculptures into actual figures, with somewhat recognizable features. It’s really a very straightforward unit.

Goals –

Students should…

Understand: How combining a variety of everyday objects can become a creative creature

Know: How weight affects a sculpture’s balance

Be able to: Create an alien out of recycled objects

Resources and materials –

  • Several boxes of recycled (repurposed) materials, from small objects (like cork from bottles) to ‘large’ objects like egg cartons
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue
  • Staplers
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Masking tape
  • Spray paint
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Brushes

Questions –

  • (While looking at a variety of objects) What part of an alien can this be?
  • How would you connect all of these parts?
  • What would happen if you stick heavy parts on top of light parts?
  • How can you get your alien to stand?
  • What kinds of fun features would you like your alien to have (i.e., wings, claws, horns, extra arms, etc.)

Evaluation – Did students Think creatively and use ingenuity to construct an alien?


  • Student questions
  • Group discussions
  • Oral responses to essential questions
  • A completed alien and at least one planet
3rd grade – found object alien sculpture
3rd grade – found object alien sculpture
3rd grade – found object alien sculpture
3rd grade – found object alien sculptures. These two in the foreground were made by a pair of students working together, which is a great option as well.

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