Sculpture garden

Play with balance and visual design with a craft inspired by American sculptor Alexander Calder.

You'll Need

  • Wire (must be thin enough to bend)
  • Craft foam
  • Scissors
  • Needle-nose pliers


30 minutes

Learning Stages

Kids will learn about visual design and balance in this art project inspired by American sculptor, Alexander Calder. Calder is most famous for inventing mobile sculptures using bent wires to create 3-dimensional figures in space. You can learn more about Calder and his work by visiting the Calder foundation website.

Planning your sculpture

Have kids figure out what kind of shape they want to make. The easiest way to help them think about the structure is to think of it as a stick figure. The wire will be used for the frame, and craft foam shapes will be placed at the ends of the frame pieces.

Have the kids draw a stick figure on paper. The finished figure will need to have a vertical piece of wire that you will use to stake or hang it. Teach the kids about balance so that their figure will hang properly. Too many foam shapes on one end of the figure will cause the figure to droop on one side.

Making your mobile

Have the kids cut out their foam shapes. While they are doing this you can make the basic skeleton of their frame. Use the needle-nose pliers to attach cross members to your skeleton. I like to wrap the frame wire around the nose of the pliers in order to make a loop. Insert a cross member through the loop and center it; then pull the ends down and twist them once to hold them in place. This lets the wire cross members stay in place, but still hang loosely so there is movement in the sculpture when it’s hanging.

Place the foam shapes on the ends of the wire by piercing the foam with the wire and crimping it. Finally, attach the vertical holder to the center of the mobile. Make sure you position this piece so that the mobile hangs properly balanced. Now you’re ready to hang your art in the garden!