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Par for the course: students design their miniature golf course sculptures while considering functional, technical, and communication elements.

Designing an eighteen-hole miniature-golf course is not the typical end-of-the-year art project, but at Winfield School it's "par for the course." Students anxiously count the days to the first day of miniature golf, courtesy of the sixth-grade art classes.

Students approach the designing of their miniature-golf-course sculptures by considering the following ideas:


* Tunnel and decorative sculpture are joined as a single piece.

* Easy to transport. Entire sculpture can be carried by one person.

* Structure of armature is strong, upright, and balanced.

* Golf ball has enough room to move through the tunnel/hole unobstructed.

* No ramps.

* Outdoor elements (wind, uneven pavement) are considered.


* Armature is an appropriate size and strong enough to support papier-mache.

* Layers of papier-mache are built up to create a durable structure.

* No loose, shaking, or breakable parts. Entire piece is well-crafted.

* Papier-mache application is smooth and even.

* Final layer provides a ready-to-paint surface.

* Painting and decorative details are attractive.


* The idea is clear and identifiable.

* Idea has visual appeal for audience.

* Elements have visual appeal for intended audience.

* Finished product implies fun.

Countdown to Mini-Golf Day

Day 6: I demonstrate the process of papier-mache sculpture and the use of recyclable household items for armatures: boxes, baskets, plastic bottles, etc. Teams of four or five students brainstorm ideas and plan armatures for their golf-course sculptures.

Day 5: Students bring in found materials for armatures and make final decisions on the designs for their sculptures. Each team is given a cardboard mailing tube that will serve as a tunnel through the sculpture for the golf ball to pass through. In some cases, the tube can be split in half lengthwise to form a gutter rather than a tunnel. Masking tape is used to tape the tube to the armature form and several layers of papier-mache are applied.

Day 4: Final layers of papier-mache are added.

Day 3: The sculpture is painted.

Day 2: Detail painting and finishing work.

Day 1: Playing the game. We rope off an area of the parking lot. The asphalt is not an ideal surface, but it works. (Outdoor carpet runners are ideal.) Students set up their sculptures at intervals around the course, which ends where it begins.

The clubs we use have been collected from garage sales and discards from the local golf course. I never permit students to bring golf clubs from home because the clubs can get scratched.

On rainy or cold days, we play indoors on long sections of carpet runners set up in the artroom and in the hallway. Playing on outdoor carpet runners limits and defines the area of play. Carpeting also slows down the golf ball.

Rules of Play

1. Keep the game fun.

2. Play in teams of seven.

3. One golf club and one golf ball per team.

4. Golf clubs are never rested on shoulders or swung in any way.

5. Putting only. Keep the club close to the ground.

6. Start at any sculpture/hole and progress to the next, but do not interfere with the group ahead of you.

7. Count the number of strokes it takes your team to get from one sculpture and through the tunnel of the next.

8. The team with the fewest strokes is the winner.

The design and production of the miniature gold course serves as a great motivator and focus for the end of the school year.


Students compare multiple purposes for creating works of art.


Darlene Vassil is an elementary art teacher at Winfield School in Crown Point, Indiana.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Elementary
Author:Vassil, Darlene
Publication:School Arts
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2005
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