Pop Art Plushies (5th)

So this is a lesson that I have absolutely LOVED doing with my 5th graders (and they've just as equally loved doing with me)! :)

The first day of the lesson I showed my students a PowerPoint presentation about Pop Art. We talked about where it came from (born out of the resistance to Abstract Expressionism), what it was and what it was about (making art available to everyone and turning it into a commodity), and viewed artwork created by some of my favorite pop artists! We looked at Warhol's soup can prints/paintings and talked about mass production, looked at Lichtenstein's paintings and talked about advertisements and comic strips (and pop culture in general) being sources of inspiration, looked at Oldenburg's giant outdoor sculptures and his giant soft sculptures, and then finally looked at contemporary soft-sculpture artist - Heidi Kenney. If you've never heard of Kenney before.. you should definitely check her out! She creates the most adorable soft sculptures you've ever seen and the kids just absolutely love her work! Her designs were actually picked up by 'kidrobot' which now produces and sells her plushies, so you can find them in stores (I picked up one of her lime plushies at Barnes and Noble the other week)!
So with the idea of pop culture as a source of inspiration for our art in mind, I introduce the inspiration for our project -- soft sculpture ANGRY BIRDS!
What elementary-aged student doesn't LOVE this game?! :)
 I must admit - this project required a lot of prep-work from my end (like creating body part stencils for 4 different angry bird characters out of posterboard for each of my 6 tables).. but I think it was well worth it!
After the PowerPoint is over, I had my kids select which angry bird they wanted to create, and then use the body part stencils at their table to trace their bird (or pig) onto a sheet of drawing paper. These drawings were colored in with crayon (to help me identify what colors of felt I'd need to have pulled out the next class) and then were used throughout the project as a folder to hold all my student's felt body part pieces.
When my kids came in the next day, we pulled out our papers and I called each table up one-by-one to select a sheet of felt to be used for their body. Using the tracers, they traced a front and a back onto the felt with sharpies and then cut them out. Then using an assortment of felt scraps, they cut out their other body parts (such as head-feathers, eyes, eyebrows, beaks, etc). Some students even created their own additional pieces (such as bows for some lady angry birds)!
The sewing process was definitely confusing for some kids at first, but after a short time they all ended up picking it up quite successfully.
I could go into extensive detail about my sewing process.. but I'll save you the reading. ;) Here's the gist: Using yarn needles (the big thick metal ones), we threaded our yarn and tied a knot at the end ("but not the way you tie your shoes - instead like how you tie a balloon"), and then began sewing. Instead of weaving in and out, I had students loop the yarn around and always enter the needle in through the same side (this stitch just ended up looking nicer in the end).
Once our front and back pieces were nearly completely stitched up, we stuffed them with a polyester filling, then finished sewing them up. Then using tacky glue, students glued on the rest of their pieces.

Both weeks I've taught this lesson it has taken me the full 5 days of class time (I see my kids Monday-Friday for each of their rotations).. so it's definitely an investment.. but as I've said - WELL worth it. The kids came in excited to get working everyday and they remained completely focused and on task everyday (which has been something I've found tricky with my 5th graders).
^ This student didn't even use a stencil! Entirely self-made!


  1. FUN! Do you have the 4 stencils you used? I am doing this! I just need to gather supplies-Can't wait!

    1. I simply looked up each bird on the internet, printed it out.. then created a stencil for each piece with posterboard.
      I am hoping to make a printable pdf with all the stencil parts on it but right now I do not.

    2. Thank you! This will be fun! Did you do stencil for eyes. hair, beaks etc?

      I look forward to trying many of your creative projects