From year 7 - Working time: approximately 3 to 4 double lessons


"For most people looking at a mobile, it is no more than a collection of flat objects that move. But for some people, it can be like poetry." Alexander Calder

Anyone who has ever seen a mobile from Calder in the original, either as a work of art in a public place or in an exhibition, knows what he meant by "poetry": a perfect interplay of shapes, colours and movement that gives the impression of great harmony, triggered by a draught of air that allows new views. The approach for this task is for pupils to use Calder's work as an inspiration for their own designs. Pupils look at mobiles by Alexander Calder - preferably originals, to experience the fascinating movements themselves. After they have understood the characteristics of mobiles, they design their own standing mobiles. While Calder preferred metal as the material for his works, pupils will use corrugated cardboard from cardboard boxes, coloured papers, and wire.

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Learning objectives and competencies

  • Learn about and analyse mobiles by Alexander Calder (repertoire, geometric-organic forms, suspension, joining techniques)
  • Identify the essential features of a mobile
  • Develop a moving object, taking into account the material-specific properties of cardboard and paper as well as wire
  • Stability of the object
  • Draw sketches in original-size drawings and templates
  • Develop free-form shapes that can be moved by draughts
  • Expertly evaluate own work results and the work of others
  • Presentation of results in an exhibition

Freestanding mobiles
Freestanding mobiles
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Material and resources

Learning objectives and competencies

  • Plan, design and manufacture a product 
  • Get to know different wood materials 
  • Possibilities and limitations of simple material connections 
  • Proper use of tools and materials 
  • Working techniques: marking, sawing with the backsaw or Japanese saw and fretsaw, filing, grinding, glueing, possibly chiseling 
  • Learn about and apply wood compounds (dull glueing, open dowelling, finger-twisting)
  • Identify sources of danger when handling materials and tools in order to understand and adhere to the required safety measures 
  • Ecological aspects (e.g. material-saving use through careful planning and economical tracing) 
  • Specific use of colour as a basic design medium 
  • Derive assessment criteria and use them for a respectful and estimating assessment


  • Pencil
  • Felt-tip pen in black 
  • Ruler 
  • Scissors 
  • Cutter 
  • Round nose pliers Punch pliers 
  • Cutter

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Step-by-step plan

The pupils implement their designs and develop an individual stand mobile. General information about the possible design process:
Freestanding mobiles

Step 1

Design the entire form of the mobile in sketches, draw several views from different points of view.

Freestanding mobiles

Step 2

Convert the sketches to original drawings of the individual parts and cut out the drawn shapes.

Freestanding mobiles

Step 3

Transfer the outlines of the paper pieces to cardboard box. Cut parts from cardboard.

Freestanding mobiles

Step 4

Apply UHU stic ReNATURE to the cardboard shapes, place cardboard on coloured paper, press and dry.

Freestanding mobiles

Step 5

With a cutter, cut the coloured paper along the edges of the cardboard shapes. Cover the reverse side with coloured paper, possibly with paper in a different colour.

Freestanding mobiles

Step 6

Depending on the design, glue the parts together with UHU Multi Purpose Adhesive Twist & Glue ReNATURE without solvent or the UHU Glue Gun Low Melt 110°C. For inserts (shown example), install an incision in the card thickness along the steel ruler (shape on the right).

Freestanding mobiles

Step 7

Cut brackets from iron wire with a side cutter and bend with round nose pliers.

Freestanding mobiles

Step 8

Punch shapes from the coloured paper with the punch pliers and use a thinner wire to secure them to the brackets. If necessary, use wooden beads for balancing Attach to the base frame.

M. N.

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©2017 UHU GmbH & Co. KG, Bühl (Baden) and Elke Fox. Photos: M. N. and Elke Fox. Editor: Elke Fox.