Recently my kids and I finished reading From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. (Click here for full review.) We decided to do this soap sculpture activity inspired by Michelangelo as part of a book club party school our family was hosting. If you are interested in this fun way of making books more meaningful for kids by sharing an experience with friends, I recommend checking out this Bravewriter blog post that explains more about the party school concept.
Before we started this activity, we talked about Michelangelo and looked at some of his famous sculptures. We noticed the detail and remarked on how he didn’t have modern tools or technology to help him. We also talked about some of his famous quotes. (You are welcome to use the free Michelangelo reference material I created if you like!)
I had no idea, but I love the way a lot of his quotes support a growth mindset, which I believe is so important for children to develop. I asked the kids what they thought he meant when he said, “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.” To help them understand I gave them prompts like, “Do you think when Michelangelo was born, he was able to make beautiful works of art like this sculpture of David?”
We talked about how when someone is really good at something, like a musical instrument or a sport, most people assume that they are just “very talented” without acknowledging all the hard work that goes into developing that skill. We talked about how the FIRST time Michelangelo tried to sculp something, it probably was not that great. However, he kept working and working until eventually, he was one of the greatest sculptors (and artists) of all time.
Recommended Age Range:Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle School
Time Required: ~30 minutes (some kids finished a lot sooner and some kept going for over an hour.) Also, make sure to allot time for cleanup!
Cost: About $5 for 10 kids
- paper for printing Michelangelo quotes and sculpture examples
- bars of soap
- sculpting utensils (plastic forks/knives/spoons, skewers, toothpicks, popsicle sticks, etc.)
- Print out the Michelangelo reference material.
- Show the children the pictures of his sculptures and talk about his quotes. We hung them up on the wall so all the kids could see them at once.
- Set out bars of soap and sculpting utensils for the kids to use. We used plastic eating utensils, skewers, toothpicks, and craft sticks.
- Let the kids have fun creating whatever they like!
I hope your kids enjoy this Michelangelo-inspired art activity!