Skip to main content

Tiered Cardboard Cakes (lesson plan)


In this lesson students will engage in sensory play and make a cardboard sculpture inspired by Beth Lipman’s Bride.

Grade Levels
Subject Areas
Visual Arts
NC Standards Correlations
Visual Arts
Approaches to Play and Learning
APL-1, APL- 4, APL-8
Language Development and Communication
LDC-2, LDC-3, LDC-5
Cognitive Development
CD-4, CD-5

Artwork Related to this Lesson

Student Learning Objectives

  1. Students will share their ideas and impressions of the work of art based on their visual analysis.
  2. Students will share their own experiences with family celebrations.
  3. Students will make their own balanced sculpture inspired by Beth Lipman’s Bride.
  4. Students will participate in sensory play while making their sculptures.
Use left and right arrows to navigate between tabs.



Introduce Beth Lipman’s Bride by looking at the work of art, asking the following questions, and sharing the below information as it supports student observations.

  • What do you see or recognize when you look at this sculpture?
  • What does it make you think about?
  • What do you wonder about when you look at this sculpture?
  • This artwork is ten feet tall and includes more than 500 glass pieces. As our eyes look down to the bottom tier, what happens to the glass objects? How are they different from the objects on the top tier? What’s the biggest object you can find? What’s the smallest?
  • This sculpture can remind us of a wedding cake with five tiers (or levels) to celebrate the marriage of two people. Have you ever attended a wedding? What was it like? 
  • What special occasions does your family celebrate with cake? What is the fanciest cake you’ve ever seen before?


Students will make their own cardboard cakes, paint, and decorate them. This project can be done collaboratively in small groups or with individuals. Invite students to think about creating a cake for a family celebration.

Place cardboard boxes of all different sizes around the room. Invite students to go on a scavenger hunt for three boxes that are three different sizes, then ask them to arrange the boxes from the biggest on the bottom to smallest. 

Ask the students to experiment with the best way to stack their boxes so that their cake is balanced. Help them glue the boxes together. Make a connection to how the bottom tier is wider than the tier on the top of Beth Lipman’s Bride.

Stacked boxes for Bride PreK Activity

Paint the boxes.

Painting boxes for Bride Activity

Mix the frosting – one part shaving cream, one part glue, and liquid watercolor. Mix the ingredients together with a large spoon or spatula.

Mix the frosting with large spoon or spatula.

Cover the boxes with the frosting using a paintbrush, foam brush, or with hands. The frosting dries with a fluffy texture.

Cover boxes with frosting.

Decorate the boxes with sequins, pom poms, glitter, confetti, ribbon, or other embellishments. Students can also roll up paper to make birthday candles for the cake. Ask the students to think about making their cakes glisten and sparkle like the glass in Beth Lipman’s Bride

Decorate the boxes.

Ask students to share with a partner the family celebration they were thinking about when they made their cake.

Finished project

Extension Activities:

  • Make the connection between Beth Lipman’s Bride, her inspiration from still life paintings, and her background in photography. Invite students to photograph their cakes in a still life scene. Give students real or play food, flowers, textiles for the table or background, and play animals or action figures to decorate their cake and compose a still life scene. Help the students photograph their still life scenes. Encourage them to find natural light sources and think about how their items are arranged. 


  1. Ask questions about the artwork to assess listening and observation skills. 
  2. Observe students as they follow the process directions for making their cakes.

Lesson Resources




Still Life


Cardboard boxes of different sizes


Shaving cream



Decorative embellishments

Reading List:

When’s My Birthday? written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Christian Robinson

The Apple Cake by Nienke van Hichtum

The Ring Bearer by Floyd Cooper

Related Content