Home Is Where the Art Is: Mixed Media Houses


This project was inspired by an article I read in Cloth Paper Scissors, one of my web resources for mixed-media techniques. The author of this article explained that she collected all things house (from books about houses to knick-knack houses) and that her own house was full of mini-houses. I began thinking about “house” as a motif. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, many people are either hosting dinner at their house or traveling to the house of a family or friend to celebrate. In the grand scheme of things, what is a HOUSE? Is it a shell that it’s inhabitants define, or is it a shell that defines us?

 I loved the idea of building little houses with the 4th graders and breathing personality and life into these miniature structures. I wanted to tie in the keywords whimsical and quirky into this project to give kids experience adding light playfulness to their artwork. Not every piece of artwork has to be so serious. I really wanted 4th graders to have fun with this one.

We started off by looking at pictures of whimsical homes created by contemporary artists. We examined paintings, clay sculptures, relief artwork, felt houses, and more. ImageI taught 4th graders how to draw a 3-D house (working from a cube shape) and asked them to make a floor plan. As students sketched, I asked students to imagine that their house was the setting for a character in a story. Students got really creative and thought outside of the box (or cube- ha, ha) for their unconventional little houses.  Each 4th grader jotted down 3 words to describe their house at the bottom of their sketch.

As the brainstorming and sketching was taking place, I called groups of 4th graders up to my hot glue station in the front of the room. I showed them how to assemble their walls and roofs and helped them hot glue their walls together. They bent rectangles of corrugated cardboard for their roofs and glued the base of their houses to squares of cardboard.


Once the foundations for the houses were assembled and secured, 4th graders could get to the fun part.  I distributed fabric, felt, newspapers, scrapbook paper, and wallpaper designs around the room. Students traced the sides of their houses onto various surfaces and cut out designs to glue onto their walls. The classroom was booming with creativity. Image


Next week, students will paint their roofs and add final details such as trees in their lawn, gardens, fence posts, mailboxes, button windows….whatever else they can think of! I think these tiny houses are starting to create quite an enchanting village.

Nice work, 4th grade! You’re well on your way to creating the cutest real estate on the market.

-Mrs. Heinlein

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