Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories At Home Art Studio Infants and Toddlers Sculpture

From Sticky Strings to Scribble Sculptures: Our New Toddler Area Installation

Sara Ottomano

It’s that time of year for a change-out of the art within our Toddler Area! To usher in the fall, toddlers created an artwork using red, orange, and yellow yarns during a Materials Play program. It was a collaborative, sticky, sensory experience that solidified into a sculpture that now hangs within the Toddler Area. The artwork was a large-scale version of the works toddlers and their caregivers made during the program.

To prepare for the sensory exploration, we cut strands of yarns between 6 and 12 inches and then sorted them into bins according to whether they were warm, cool, or neutral colors. The strands for the collaborative installation were a bulky type of yarn and we cut them approximately three feet in length. I then poured Elmer’s glue into individual cups, kneading a handful of yarns into each cup, saturating the strands with glue. I soaked the bulky yarn strands in a larger bin to promote collaboration.

When the groups began to arrive, each person picked a cup of yarns and a base which was a piece of cardboard covered in wax paper. The base allowed for guests to bring the artwork home since it takes a long time for it to dry.

Some guests took the whole sticky ball of yarns, placed it on their base, and then enjoyed smooshing it around the base.

Others enjoyed taking one piece at a time and layering it on the base carefully.

In the collaborative area, I had taped down a drop cloth to the floor then placed the bin of gluey, bulky yarns next to it. It was a slow build audience-wise, but once the toddlers discovered that you could take the yarns for a walk and/or throw them on the ground, they quickly flocked to the area to enjoy placing and tossing the yarns together.

After drying on the drop cloth outside on the patio for five hours then inside overnight, it became a stiff sculpture reminiscent of a scribble or map.

It was structurally sound enough to consider installing it so on a quiet afternoon, we took down the moon phases and hung the artwork on the wall.

We hope to continue the trend of displaying toddler-made art in the Toddler Area, stay tuned for future updates or check out the space in person to see if it’s changed and get a closer look!


Sara smiling in front of Art Studio display.

Sara Ottomano

Art Educator from 2016-2023 at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Sara (she/her) is enthusiastic about helping others approach art through exploration and experimentation.