STRUCTURES – Balance, Colour, Shape

Students create and solve problems as they construct structures in the shape of a building using various small boxes, containers and cardboard tubes of different sizes and shapes that they have painted.

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Kindergarten to Grade 3


Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts


balance legend sculpture stack structure tower


Crayola Paint Brushes - 5 Count Crayola Washable No-Run School Glue Crayola Scissors Crayola Washable Project Paint Crayola Construction Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Masking Tape Variety of Small Boxes Variety of Small Boxes, Containers and Cardboard Tubes - 6 - 10 per student

Shop Crayola Products


STRUCTURES – Balance, Colour, Shape - Step One

Step One

  1. Choose 6 or more boxes, containers or tubes.
  2. Paint them using different colours.
  3. Paint all your boxes with different colours.
  4. Use tape to make your boxes stronger.
STRUCTURES – Balance, Colour, Shape - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Use a variety of different painting techniques to decorate your boxes.
STRUCTURES – Balance, Colour, Shape - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Once all your boxes, containers and tubes are painted place them together.
  2. Remember to make sure they are balanced so the structure can stand on its own. 
  3. Look carefully at what needs to be strengthened using tape.
  4. Try placing the boxes together in different ways so they are balanced.
  5. When you like your structure use Crayola washable school glue to hold all the pieces together.
STRUCTURES – Balance, Colour, Shape - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Use construction paper to add details such as windows, doors or a flag to your structure.
  2. When it is finished, stand back and view it with fresh eyes.
  3. Decide if you need to add anything else.
  4. Imagine who lives in this buidling.
    - What do they look like?
    - How many people live here?
    - What do they like to do?
    - What are their names?

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • use cardboard containers to build a balanced structure of a building;
  • use a variety of painting techniques to add contrast to the structure; 
  • demonstrate technical accomplishments and creativity; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in artworks.


Have students:

  • design, build, and test a structure for a specific purpose;
  • answer the following questions: 
    - What is the purpose of your structure?
    - What materials did you use?
    - Why did you choose those materials?
    - How did you attach the pieces of your structure?
    - What will happen to your structure when you no longer want it?


  1. Prior to the lesson collect a variety of small cardboard boxes and containers enough for each student to have minimum of 6 boxes.
  2. Provide a large plastic sheet or newsprint to put under each structure.
  3. Gather and make available books about building and structures, such as Build, Dogs, Build: A Tall Tail, by James Horvath, Building a House, by Byron Barton and A House is a House for Me, by Mary Ann Hoberman and Roxaboxen by Sallie Stephen.
  4. Download and display the Balance poster available on this website.
  5. Review or teach the principle Balance - the arrangement of elements so that they seem equal in weight.
    - Provide opportunities for students to explore the concept of balance using their bodies and various objects.


  1. Conduct a read-aloud with a book such as A House is a House for Me, by Mary Ann Hoberman.
  2. Make a list of the different buildings in the school neighbourhood.
  3. Make a list of the components of a house or any building.
  4. Create a simple diagram of the outlines of the various types of buildings.
  5. List the common components and make a picture legend of these components.
  6. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Use cardboard containers to build a balanced structure of a building.
  2. Use a variety of painting techniques to add contrast to the structure.
  3. Demonstrate technical accomplishments and creativity.
  4. Support your ideas with evidence found in structures.

The Process

  1. Ensure that everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created a structure that someone could live in
    - glued boxes together so they stick 
    - created unique textures with paint
    - constructed a structure that is balanced
    - used contrasting colours
    - constructed a structure that can stand on its own
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work.
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Conduct a Read Aloud using a book such as Roxaboxen, by Sally Stephens. This book is about children who create an imaginary village using rocks (ROX) and boxes (BOXEN).
  2. Have children arrange their structures in the middle of the classroom as if they are part of a village. 
  3. Discuss the structures using words to explain size, colour and variety.
  4. Ask 'The 5 W's - Who, What, Why, When and Where' questions such as:
    What would be a good name for this village?
    - Who do you think lives in this village? etc.
  5. Begin a group chart story with, In the village of . . .


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their structures – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the structure, 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 – Structure_tracking.pdf) 
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads – Structure_self-assessment.pdf)