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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002


  • Tuesday- Friday10 am - 4 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 5pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 5 pm

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Visit the carle


Making Art Together

Build, Shape, Create

Over the years we've worked with found materials in the Studio many times and witnessed sculptures go from piles of stuff to thoughtful, creative arrangements. Below are five different building techniques to consider the next time you and your child are playing with blocks or you're students are making sculptures using found materials. 

These techniques are adapted from Block Building For Children by Lester Walker and paired with examples created by Studio staff. In chapter two of his book, Walker sites an essay, "The Art of Block Building" by the founder and director of the City and Country School in New York City, Harriet M. Johnson. Ms. Johnson's research found similarities in the way young children worked with blocks during independent play. What type of structures do your children/students tend to build? Have you noticed a change in your child's independent block play as they grow older?

Rows - a repetition of materials in a line


Towers - a repetition of one thing on top of another, building up from the bottom


Patterns - designs arranged by repeating a material or style.


Columns and Beams - beams can support heavy loads like a wall, roof or road. Columns are the vertical posts that usually support beams.


Spaces - materials arranged to create an enclosure



We enjoy exploring materials and ideas in the Art Studio, and we’re excited to share our process with you! Please consider the following factors when adapting these posts for your learning environment: 

We facilitate a variety of programs within the Art Studio for a wide range of age groups. Please carefully consider the age appropriateness of each individual activity in your own learning environment.

Our projects are always done with adult supervision and proper safety precautions. Be sure all of your projects are overseen by adults who likewise follow proper safety precautions. The adults overseeing your project must also be responsible for handling or assisting with any potentially harmful equipment or materials. 

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is not responsible for any damages, injuries or liabilities that result from any activities contained within this website, and we expressly disclaim any responsibility or liability therefor. From time to time, we reference materials that we have found to be particularly important in our projects. We do not receive any monetary compensation for recommending materials. 



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