Imaginary Spaces: Designing a Play Space
By Susan Miller, June 22, 2007
Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.
- Foamcore Board (1/4 " or 3/16") or pieces of Styrofoam
- Elmer's glue
- cutting tools (X-acto knife, Olfa blade, etc.)
- a large piece of cardboard to cut on, or if available and within your budget, a self-healing cutting matt to protect the table and keep blades sharp
- a straight edge, ruler, or T-square
Imaginary Space-a representation of a larger space. Example: "If you were this small, how would this space feel to you?"
1. Cut foamcore board into a variety of small shapes (triangular, rectilinear, trapezoid, etc...) that range in size from 1/4" wide to 6" wide. The shapes can be long, short, thin, wide, etc. There should be a wide variety and enough shapes so that each child can use as many as they feel necessary (a range of 8-25 shapes per student). The angle of the cut should be as close to perpendicular as possible, which will allow for the edge of the shape to adhere easily when it is glued to another shape/surface.
2. Cut out a foamcore base for each student. They can be the same or different sizes. Bases that range in size from 4" x 4" to 10" x 4" work well and those sizes can be cut down with an X-acto knife if necessary.
3. Have glue ready in cups, along with glue brushes or toothpicks.
Presentation and handing out materials (5-10 minutes)
1. Motivational questions/comments to establish understanding of support and balance:
I've noticed that you have a lot of experience building with blocks. How many of you like to build with blocks? What do you need to do in order for them to stay standing? How do you know if they are balanced?
2. We are going to use these same ideas to create an imaginary play space. Even though it's small, we can imagine what it would be like if it were bigger. Ask if students can think of any toys they play with like this (Lego, Polly Pocket, doll houses) and list examples on the board.
3. Have students voice aloud what they like about certain play spaces, what they dislike, what they look for in an area to play, etc. Hold a class discussion about positive and negative opinions students have about play spaces.
4. Demonstrate how to glue the edges of the foamcore board so that the pieces can be glued to the surface of the base, and then to each other. For the most part, shapes should be glued on the edge, so that they can stand up, and not on the surface of the board. You might want to demonstrate adding a support when necessary (e.g., a t-shape), building up too tall, both off and on balance, cantilevering, etc. *Hint: Try not to use too much glue, to avoid slipping. It is also helpful to gently place the glued board to the surface, without applying a lot of pressure.
5. Pass out materials. Ask each student to choose a base and about 6-8 shapes to begin with. Remind them that they can always come back for more. Ask them not to lift their work up, as it may be fragile until the glue dries.
6. Have each student brainstorm how they would want their imaginary play space to be set up. Encourage them to use their imagination in order to visualize their play space. There should be few to no restrictions on the students’ ideas. Each student should sketch out a small plan of their play space. Each student could also describe their ideas aloud to the class. The teacher should look over each student’s idea before they begin gluing their pieces.
Work Time (30 minutes)
Clean up and Wrap-up
1. Collect unused shapes, put glue away.