Recycled Robot Art to Teach Shapes to Kids!

June 4, 2017


Recycled Robot Art!

Do you have a robot lover in your home?  We do.  My 5 year old son had been asking me how to build a robot, so we tried recycled robot art.  In this project we used recycled materials, painting, and stamping to make robot art!  We loved it so much I decided to try it with my preschool students and they loved it too!  Through this activity kids learn to build an image with basic shapes, which is the foundation of drawing.  They also explore stamping, painting, and using recycled materials in unique ways!  This project is also a great opportunity to teach young kids about shape recognition and making size comparisons.

Prepping the Materials for Recycled Robot Art

You will need a medium sized piece of cardboard.  Ours was 9x11inches.  You will also need scraps of rectangular cardboard, cut into a variety of sizes.  You can cut down a box for cardboard scrap and for your background piece. 

One cardboard toilet paper roll for stamping

Tempera paint (watercolor is an option for the robot parts)

basic school glue

Bottle caps and pony beads(or other baubles you may stumble upon)


Recycled robot art is used to teach shapes to kids! Here are the basic supplies you will need.

Recycled Robot Art: Painting and Stamping a Background 

The first step is to paint the background cardboard with tempera.  We used black so that the stamping and the robot would stand out, but feel free to try other color combinations.  Next, set up a paper plate with a few colors that will stand out against the background.  Since our background was black, we used bright colors.  A toilet paper tube can be dipped into the paint and stamped right on top of the painted board.  It’s ok if the paint is not dry yet, however, I would wait for the board to dry before adding the cardboard pieces.

Painting and stamping a background for recycled robot art

Recycled Robot Art: Building with Shapes!

Next kids will choose from a variety of cardboard shapes and sizes to build their robot.  If you are working in a classroom or with a group of kids, I would recommend having them glue the shapes on before painting. That way you don’t have to keep track of whose pieces are whose.  My son painted his pieces first and I quickly realized that these pieces would be difficult to keep track of for a group of 20 preschoolers in a short 30 minute time block!  My table set up for the classroom is shown below.

setting up supplies for recycled robot craft

I always give a demonstration in my art classes before we begin a step, and you can do this at home as well.  It’s helpful to think aloud and use descriptive language.  Describe each piece you are using while you are gluing it on.  For example:“Oh look, this piece is a big, wide rectangle!  Now that I used a big rectangle, maybe I will use a small, thin one.”  Or you can ask, “I already used a large square, what shape would look great for an arm?”  This discussion can help them start to think about size and shape relationships.  My teacher demonstration piece is shown here.

Teach shape recognition and uses to kids with recycled robot art!

Recycled Robots: Painting and adding small objects

The body of the robot can be painted with either tempera or watercolors.  Tempera is brighter and has a more painterly look to it.  Watercolors give it a more subtle, even coat of color, and are typically less messy.  The samples you see here are in tempera paint.  During this session we also added  “buttons”  to our robot using beads or other found objects.  Some of my preschool students even made robot “hair” with the beads which was a delightful surprise.  Of course, google eyes always make kid’s art more exciting if you have a few to add.

Teaching shapes with recycled robot art

Teaching shapes with recycled robot artTeaching shapes with recycled robot art


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