It’s a Wrap!

Online Lesson Plan
It’s a Wrap!

In this lesson students will learn about two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects by assembling a sculptural piece from something very flat – pieces of newspaper or wallpaper.

Lesson Plan by Nancy Childs, Visual Arts Curriculum Specialist, Lincoln (Nebraska) Public Schools.


Suggested grade level: 6th-8th. The student will:

  • As an art historian, the student will know that a material produced for one purpose may become a valuable resource when used in a manner different from it’s original intention – for example, flour sacks used to make dresses during the Depression – by using recycled materials as an art medium.
  • As an art creator, the student will learn to read a graphic code for folding, cutting and assembling objects by following different sets of instructions and creating three-dimensional containers. They will also understand how a two-dimensional material can be manipulated to encompass a three-dimensional object by assembling three-dimensional containers.



Bell ringer –

standards02Students will attempt to encompass a three-dimensional object using just newspaper. The class will be examining the results as a group, so these are some possible questions – What worked, what didn’t? If you pick the whole thing up, does the object stay inside?

Try wrapping the objects again using newspaper, scissors, tape and glue. Use the same set of questions to evaluate the results. Then add new questions, like – If I wanted to be able to remove the object from the “wrapping” and then replace it in the wrapping, could I? What would I have to change to make this possible?

Initial Inquiry: What does it mean to “wrap” or encompass something? What has to happen so that the wrapping can be used to encompass the object and still give us access to the object? Begin by examining commercial containers – cereal boxes or other unusual food containers, toy packages, mailing tubes, gift boxes.


The Resources

  • Small objects to be encompassed – balls, small books, a dog bone, a stapler, scissors, any small 3D object, not larger then 6x6x6-inches.
  • Newspaper, scissors, glue, tape, oak tag, wallpaper sample books.
  • Cereal boxes or other unusual food containers, toy packages mailing tubes, gift boxes or Chinese food take out boxes.
  • The book,Paper Boxes by Michael G. LaFosse, Quarry Books (ISBN 1-56496-277-6).
  • The book,Fantastic Folds by Andrew Stoker and Sasha Newton, St. Martin’s Griffin (ISBN 0-312-17095-5) or any book that contains a legend of “key” providing the graphic symbols for folding, cutting and manipulating paper.
  • Access to a copy machine and computers.
  • Old clothing sewing patterns.

Links from within the Wessels Living History Farm site. [Note that clicking on these links will open a new browser window. Just close it and you’ll be back to this page.] Direct the students to these pages to learn about what money was worth during the 1930s.


The Process

  1. Examine commercial containers. Take them apart and look at them as flat, two-dimensional objects. What shapes do you see? What relationship do you see between these shapes and the objects that the container was designed to hold?
  2. Refold them to see how they are transformed from 2D to 3D. Conduct a group reflection about what strategies are being used to produce these containers. Make a list of ways that a material can be transformed from 2D to 3D. Make another list of what makes for a “successful” functional container. Make a third list of what makes a successful “interesting” container. What makes something interesting – shape, color, pattern, a surprise?
  3. Examine some books on patterns to see if any of the strategies from our list are recommended in the books.
  4. What instructions are given? How are they given? Is there a “legend” or table of symbols that provide information about how to manipulate the material? What relationships do we see between the graphic codes for instructions and the actual manipulation of the material? What is the difference between a “fold” line and a “cut” line?
  5. For practice, select some patterns. Copy them on oak tag to make patterns for the classroom. Students can then trace these patterns to the back of sheets of wallpaper and construct the 3D containers.


Learning Advice

Choose a range of objects to be contained. Some objects could be multiples – like marbles.

Now have students design patterns and create containers of their own designs.


Assessment Activity

There is on-going group inquiry and reflection as the students define and then solve the problems.

For the culminating assessment, students will present their creations containing their 3D objects. The class will examine and discuss the solutions. The guiding questions for the discussion should be – What difference did the strength of the wallpaper make? Does the container exactly match the shape of the object? Does it need to? Does the container provide any clues about what might be inside?

Use “post it” notes to vote on which containers were most successful because they were functional and which containers were more successful because they were “interesting?” Use different colored post it notes for the different votes.

The criteria for final assessment should be –

  1. Is the container functional? Does the object fit into it? Can the object be easily removed and replaced in the container?
  2. Is the container interesting? Is it interesting because of the material used? Is it interesting because of the “way” the material was used?


General Notes

Extentions: Paper Sculpture, hand made books, pop-up books, origami, or sewing from patterns.

  • Creating With Paper by Pauline Johnson, Dover Publications (ISBN 0-486-26837-3)
  • Paper Capers by Jack Botermans, Henry Holt and Company (ISBN 0-8050-0139-5)
  • The Pop-up Book by Paul Jackson, Henry Holt and Company (ISBN 0-8050-2884-6)

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