Family Day @ the Smart: SWF Building Blocks and Sunflower Stalks


On Saturday, April 7, 2018, more than 500 people filtered through the Smart Museum of Art to participate in Family Day: Building Blocks and Sunflower Stalks. On the first Saturday of every month, the Smart Museum hosts a Family Day, offering children and their parents a space to express their creativity through a variety of hands-on activities. In April, Sweet Water Foundation helped lead the Family Day, engaging children’s imaginations to turn scraps of wood from SWF’s workshop into pieces of art. Read below to learn more about the Building Blocks Family Day at the Smart.


Building on the Momentum of SWF Maker Workshops:

Over the winter months, Sweet Water apprentices and mentors were been busy building everything from Fractal Seats to Re[CREATE] Spaces to shelves to display food during the summer Farm Stands. Whenever the SWF team builds, scraps are saved for future use. This practice is integral to Sweet Water Foundation’s focus on turning wastes into resources. The week before the Building Blocks Family Day, scraps were shaped and sanded down into simple building materials for children to use during the hands-on workshop.

familyday2 copy.jpg

Sweet Water Foundation’s influence on April’s Family Day built upon the momentum of recent conferences and workshops and revolved around the notion of turning waste materials into pieces of art. This workshop differed from others in that the participants were primarily children (ages 4 - 12) and their families. Children hold the future of our world in their hands and minds. As they grow older, they can apply the concept of reclaiming materials to other aspects of their lives. Ultimately, these concepts will help them transform spaces into productive and sustainable assets within their communities.


Family Day: Building Blocks and Sunflower Stalks Workshop:

As families entered the room, they saw scraps of wood on the floor and on tables. Once participants arrived, Sweet Water Foundation staff and Smart Museum docents introduced the simple building materials (blocks, glue, markers, paper, tape, and paint) and encouraged children to use their imaginations to build something.


The room was full of energy, as families engaged with the building materials, thought of creative uses for the “waste” materials, and brought their ideas to life. They stacked, glued, taped, painted, and colored the scraps, transforming simple materials into pieces of art. Throughout the workshop, children generated ideas by interacting with adults and other children. By the end of the workshop, a variety of models had been created - cities, airplanes, homes, animals, and chairs. Families left excited to find and reuse other scraps and to activate others to do the same.

Just outside the lobby of the Smart Museum, children and family members tinkered with dried sunflower stalks from Sweet Water’s Perry Ave Community Farm to create art outside.


As we work toward Re[CREATE]ing Spaces, Sweet Water Foundation is encouraged by the enthusiasm of this intergenerational audience. Participants of all ages were excited about their role in transforming spaces and “wastes” into aesthetic, productive, creative, and sustainable elements of the environment.

Jia Li Pratt