Introduction to Community Engagement through Sculpture  
Meets the learning standards for grades 4-5 (can be adapted)  
Media Type:  Cardboard and Papier Mâché sculpture
Subject Integration: Fine Arts, English Language Arts, Social Studies, Math
Formal Lesson Plan and TEKS information (coming soon)

Materials: writing materials, paper, newsprint/craft paper, cardboard, glue/flour, water, salt, masking tape, markers or paint and brushes, plastic wrap, misc (balloons, empty water bottles, sticks, aluminum foil, etc.)

This lesson provides 10 new vocabulary words: 

  • Parade
  • Accessible
  • Collaboration
  • Armature
  • Parade Float
  • Proportion
  • Papier mâché (aka Paper Mache)
  • Cardinal Directions
  • Parallel
  • Perpendicular  

Have you ever attended a parade, participated in one, or seen one on TV? How many different parades can you think of? What do these parades have in common? What is different about them?

Activity 1

Read  this article  and make note of concepts pertaining to geography, economics, culture and tradition.

Now imagine you are planning a small parade that celebrates your community, family, or friends. Would it be a birthday parade? Would it celebrate a seasonal event? Would the parade be inspired by nature? Would the parade be a celebration of accomplishment?

 How is a parade an example of collaboration? Who do you know that have talents or skills that could add to the parade (Gymnasts? Dancers? Skate boarders? Musicians?)

Activity 2

Check out this video of the Corso Zundert flower parade in the Netherlands:

 What do you find inspiring? What are some of the limitations/challenges of working with fresh flowers? What kind of impact do you think this parade has on the community?

Now check out this video of the Alebrije Parade in Mexico City:

What do you find inspiring? What differences do you observe between the flower floats and the papier mâché floats? What are some of the advantages of using papier mâché?

Activity 3 (you may work independently or you may collaborate in teams)

Time to make a parade float sculpture! With cardboard and papier mâché the sky is the limit. Create a quick concept sketch of your parade float and indicate what available materials it could be made from (one giant box? Many boxes connected together? An armature of sticks and balloons wrapped in in foil and papier mâché? Empty soda bottles? cardboard paper rolls? Pool floaties?) Pay special attention to proportion when working in large-scale.

*Pro Tip: if you are constructing your parade float sculpture while indoors, make sure is no wider or taller than the doorway!

To create a sturdy float sculpture, you will need to create an armature (which functions like a skeleton) to hold the general shape. This can be accomplished with cardboard, sticks, PVC, wire hangers and much more. This video from the Strength and Structure A+ Lesson may be helpful for cardboard construction.

Use lightweight materials like aluminum foil, balloons, or empty water bottles to add volume and shape to your float sculpture.

Now it is time for papier mâché! (This video is helpful for papier mâché construction.)

After you have covered the entire float sculpture in at least 3 layers of papier mâché, you will need to paint and decorate your float to complete your artistic vision.

* *Pro Tip: papier mâché is not weather resistant and cannot survive outside for long. A protective coat of oil based enamel (preferably boat/yacht enamel) is the best chance of weatherproofing, but it is not a fool-proof solution and would require adult supervision. Protective coating is not necessary if the sculpture mostly exists indoors.

Check out this article about creativity and flexibility when New Orleans shifted the focus from their world-famous Mardi-Gras parade to the creation of House Floats! Discuss! How can we use our own artistic perspectives to positively contribute to our communities? 

Extending the lesson:  

Teachers and parents, you and your learners can find an opportunity to participate in the October 2021 Los Muertos Parade here and the December 2021 City Lights Parade here.


Review of Vocabulary for this Lesson:

Parade–  a group of people marching in ceremony, celebration, or protest. … Parade is also a verb, meaning to walk or march ostentatiously.

Accessible- 1. able to be used, entered, reached, 2. suitable for disabled people to reach, enter, or use, as a result of design modifications, 3. readily understandable

Collaboration- the action of working with someone to produce or create something.

Armature- A metal or wood framework used to support a sculptor’s clay, plaster, or wax model.

Parade Float- A parade float is an elaborately decorated three-dimensional figure or scene, mounted on a wheeled chassis that participates in a procession as part of a specific celebration. Most parade floats are self-propelled, although they may also be towed by another vehicle or pulled by animals.

Proportion- 1 : to adjust (a part or thing) in size relative to other parts or things · 2 : to make the parts of harmonious or symmetrical

Papier mâché (aka Paper Mache)- a malleable mixture of paper and glue, or paper, flour, and water, that becomes hard when dry. French, literally ‘chewed paper’.

Cardinal Directions– The four cardinal directions or cardinal points are the directions of north, east, south, and west, commonly denoted by their initials: N, E, S, W.

Parallel- (of lines, planes, surfaces, or objects) side by side and having the same distance continuously between them.

Perpendicular- at an angle of 90° to a given line, plane, or surface.