Pencil Structures

19 November 2014


What to do, after school? Make Pencil Structures. 
Projects that the kids come up with on their own are my absolute favorites. When I found our son making these, I, quickly jumped to: how high could we build if we were two? What’s easier than reaching for supplies that you already have at home?
Pencil structures are an easy and relaxing creative exercise rich in imagination, experimentation, engineering and architecture. Have I forgotten anything from this list because it feels like it’s all here?
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These structures are particularly unique due to the fact that they’re mostly comprised of pencils that we painted ourselves (here) and I highly recomend personalising pencils as a really fun, project, too. (See more about that below.)
If you’re like me and so often have education or enrichment on your brain, this is one for you.  I’ve recently read about the STE(A)M philosophy which believes in the benefits of integrating arts into learning and also think of the self-guided practice of Reggio schools or self-paced style of Montessori.  Building Pencil Structures is really for all ages. It’s a great pass time for littles, to make together or even for big kids.
Our 11 year old daughter has been asking the question a lot lately and thinking about her future, asking: If I get a degree in x,y,z does this mean that I can only do x,y,z? This has led to expansive conversations about passions, interests — what is a passion, in fact — abilities, perseverance, creativity and how some professions require specific qualifications or certifications while others can benefit from studies you’d never think go hand-in-hand.
While I might see form and sculpture here, you might see architecture or engineering and another find molecular models. While our daughter likes to build architectural structures in the computer, Sketch-up, combining hands-on building makes rounder understanding, more interactive and, again, is the perfect place for flowing conversation to talk about it. I remembered last night, as we were relaxing together, a school project in 6th grade where we designed a dream house. We had just visited a friend of my parents who had built their house around a large, living, pine tree. It was too cool for me. This together time jotted my memory too and believe me, led all over the place. Familiar, right?
– Pencils
To make:
– Break off small finger-tipped sized nuggets of Modeling Clay or Poster Tack.
– Form ball.
– Stick balls of clay on both ends of the pencils and start building.
Happy building and explorations.
Note: On the examples that I am showing, we used poster tack because we wanted to use our beautiful pencils again. If you want to make a permanent sculpture, then, you can use adrying clay, such as this one. I think drying clay can become a little messy so remember this as you let these dry. If you are making build and break structures like we did, I really liked working with Poster Tack.
Something you might like:
How to make a Water Color Pencil or click here for full list of all of our pencils.
Build with Gum Drops: Gum Drop Activity
Make a Wild Weaving

Vegetable Jenga
Vegetable Mandalas
Leaf Faces

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