SPIRAL POP-UP CARD – Paper Engineering, Contrast, Shape

Students use construction paper to create a simple, spiral pop-up card with 3 different sized spirals.

Required Time

60 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 1 to Grade 6


Language Arts
Visual Arts
Media Literacy



Crayola Construction Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Scissors Crayola Glue Sticks Crayola Fine Line Markers Cardstock Paper - Brights (optional)

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SPIRAL POP-UP CARD – Paper Engineering, Contrast, Shape - Step One

Step One

  1. Cut a large circle out of 1/4 of a piece of construction paper.
  2. Cut a spiral into the circle.
  3. Let the outer edge guide you as you cut around and around until you get to the centre.
SPIRAL POP-UP CARD – Paper Engineering, Contrast, Shape - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Fold a piece of 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm construction paper in half widthwise.
  2. Open the paper.
  3. Place the spiral near the centre of the bottom half of the paper.
  4. Apply some glue to the back of one end of the spiral.
  5. Glue it in place.
SPIRAL POP-UP CARD – Paper Engineering, Contrast, Shape - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Apply glue to the front of the other end of the spiral.
SPIRAL POP-UP CARD – Paper Engineering, Contrast, Shape - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Close the paper and press it flat.
  2. Open the paper to see how the spiral pops up.
  3. Make 2 more spirals each a different width than the others.
SPIRAL POP-UP CARD – Paper Engineering, Contrast, Shape - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Use simple shapes and contrasting colours of construction paper to add details to the scene.
  2. Glue them to the spirals and the background paper.
  3. Open and close the card to see how the scene pops up. 
  4. Write a concise statement somewhere on the scene.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a spiral pop-up card with 3 different sized spirals; 
  • cut organic shapes out of construction paper;
  • use repetition to create movement;
  • communicate a message about a topic they are studying;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


Have students:

  • explore other types of pop-up cards, for example, with the pop-up lesson plan Signs of Spring available on this website;
  • create a giant pop-up structure using cardboard and stiff paper;
  • create small gears and moveable objects to insert in their giant pop-up structure;
  • share their work with their peers.


  1. Prior to this lesson have students synthesize key concepts of a topic they are studying.
  2. Identify some symbols that can be used to illustrate the concept, for example, - bees are pollinators
    - bee shapes, flowers, leaves, blossoms
  3. Download and display the Movement poster available on this website.
  4. Teach or review the principle of movement – the placement of elements so that they lead the viewer's eye throughout the artwork.
  5. Create a step by step sample.


  1. Ask students to think of the one message they want to convey about their topic.
  2. Ask them to think of one, concise statement that gets that message across.
  3. Share ideas about possible symbols to use to help communicate the message.
  4. Show your sample card, drawing attention to the symbols you have used to communicate your message.
  5. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a spiral pop-up card with 3 different sized spirals. 
  2. Cut organic shapes out of construction paper.
  3. Use repetition to create movement.
  4. Communicate a message about your topic.
  5. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  6. Support your ideas with evidence found in the works.

The Process

  1. Ask students to imagine the setting for their scene. Where are they?
  2. Encourage them to think of the kinds of details they will need to add in order to communicate their message.
  3. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  4. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created a spiral pop-up card
    - cut out 3 different sized spirals
    - cut organic shapes out of construction paper
    - glued shapes carefully
    - added lots of details
    - repeated shapes to show movement
    - written a concise statement
    - made a card that is in good condition
  5. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan, demonstrating as you go.
  6. Observe students as they work. 
  7. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Once all the pop-ups are complete display them for a group discussion. Remind students of the challenge.
    Look closely at the spiral pop-up cards.
    - Choose one that interests you for some reason.
    - Share thoughts about the work.
  2. During the discussion include references to:
    organic shapes and details – how they have been used to help communicate the message
    - space – how repetition of shapes helps move the eye through the space
    - symbols – how the symbols help to communicate the message
  3. Ask students to share what they learned by doing this project.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their card – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the card, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - SpiralPopUp_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - SpiralPopUpPrimary_self-assessment.pdf or SpiralPop-Up_self-assessment.pdf)