Inspiring children one color at a time

Paper Skyscrapers

By on Feb 11, 2013 | 10 comments

Cutting and pasting is a big deal in Kindergarten. Learning how to manipulate paper into shapes and then into a picture is an even bigger deal. It doesn’t matter what the subject is: a house, a sailboat or a skyscraper, the technique is the same.


Start by giving each student a sheet of 12″ x 18″ black sulphite paper, a sheet of 12″ x 18″ white sulphite paper, a bowl of scissors, some school glue (or a glue stick) and some colorful paper scraps.

The first step involves talking about a skyscraper. I have the most wonderful book that I bought at a book sale Skyscrapers: A History of the World’s Most Extraordinary Buildings. Although the text is detailed, the photographs are a wonderful resource for the kids. The  book is tall and lends itself well to the lesson.


I already spoke about the loveliness of The Shape of My Heart and like I said in my review, there are many art projects other than Valentine’s Day in which to use this book as a great visual resource. This is one such lesson.



To make the white skyscrapers, the children cut their white paper into 3-4 sections lengthwise on the paper. Then, they alter the tops of the resulting rectangles by cutting out towers, adding a slanted roofline or just making the rectangle shorter than the others. Glue the rectangles (skyscrapers) to the black paper, leaving a strip of black paper at the bottom. The edges of the rectangles will be choppy, but don’t worry about it. If you were doing this lesson with older children, they could use a ruler to make the skyscraper sides straight, but for 5 year olds, this is not important.


The younger the child, the harder this next task is to accomplish: making windows and doors. I demonstrate how to cut small squares and rectangles, using different colored pieces of paper, but if a child only has enough stamina to complete one or two of the buildings, that is a success. Don’t underestimate the concentration needed by these little ones to cut the dozens of windows necessary to fill a skyscraper.

Once windows and doors are glued on, children can start making cars. I draw a few shapes on the white board, but mainly I stress that any shape is fine. To make wheels, I don’t subject the children to cutting tiny paper circles (they would revolt) but instead place a small container of buttons on each table. The buttons make lovely wheels. To add details, use a black marker.

Didn’t they do a lovely job?



  1. I love this project. I did something very similar but had the kids paint the backgrounds using only red, yellow and white and they mixed the colors so that it looked like the buildings were against sunset skies


    February 11, 2013

  2. I’m impressed. Very nice ideas for crafts. Keep up with more ideas.


    February 16, 2013

  3. This is a great project. I love all the vivid colors and contrast. I have been browsing your site for the last few days with my kids and all of us are smitten! My nine year old said, “where does this woman teach?…because we need to move there!” I thought that may give you a giggle. Thanks again for sharing your talent with the world.

    Terris | Free Eats

    February 22, 2013

  4. What I dearly love about the commentary in so many of your posts is how reassuring you are. You constantly remind me, as a mom who truly wants to inspire my child, that she has limits because SHE IS FIVE, and to work within her limitations and still have a successful, relaxing and FUN outcome. I love this project, as I do all of what I see on your blog, but I especially love how you give me a good standard for what to expect (reasonably) from my child.

    After all, I want her to be super creative and have fun (the whole purpose!), but I also do want her to learn and to allow me to teach her new skills. Knowing how to balance those things can be delicate, but the way you write makes it seem easy!


    February 28, 2013

  5. Paper Skyscrapers are they in book forms .
    I wanted to purchase this book. How can i buy it :) care to share ?


    March 8, 2013

    • This lesson is part of my freebie library of art lessons although I’m starting to get requests for more detailed lessons on so many of my popular posts…maybe I should create a PDF for this one. Thanks for the suggestion.

      Patty Palmer

      March 14, 2013

  6. I teach art to preschoolers. It is a special class where all ages visit my classroom , so I have 2,3,4, and 5 year old artists! My curriculum is the work of the masters!! Your ideas have expanded my repertoire and I look forward to ordering from your site. Thank you so much for all that you have shared!


    August 11, 2013

  7. Great lesson. I want to try this with K-2. Do you think the 2nd graders will find it challenging enough? Any adaptions I should try for them?


    September 4, 2015

    • This is s perfect lesson for 2nd graders. Their details will be much more refined.

      Patty Palmer

      September 6, 2015


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