Introduction: Giant Cicada Sculpture Using a Paper Lunch Bag

Every 17 years the Brood X Cicadas emerge from underground to live with humans who reside around the middle of the eastern half of the United States. They are loud and harmless and should be celebrated. And what better way to celebrate them, than by making a giant cicada sculpture using a recycled paper lunch bag and a few other art supplies?! My mom was an art teacher for 30 years and made these with her students 17 years ago, so I asked her for a special online lesson for myself and my daughter and we agreed it should be documented in an instructable. We simplified the cicada parts a lot for this project, my daughter is 6, but it would make a great activity to look closer at cicadas to get some of their features more precise. In the end, my daughter loved them and they are her new bug friends.


1. Paper bag (I used lunch box size and a little larger too)

2. Red clay that hardens (I used play dough because that is what I had, but Model Magic or Sculpey would work well)

3. Construction paper (black or brown for the legs and antenna, yellow or white for the wings)

4. Hot glue (although regular liquid craft glue or school glue would work if you're patient)

5. 1 rubber band

6. Masking Tape

7. A few sheets of newspaper

8. Scissors

9. Crayons

10. Black permanent marker

11. Pencil

12. Black pipe cleaners (optional)

Step 1: Sculpt the Eyes

1. Sculpt the eyes first so they can dry while you make the rest of the bug. Use red clay to make a sphere about 1-1.5" inch in diameter, like a large marble size.

2. Cut the ball in half (we used the scissors)

3. Reshape a bit to make sure the bottom is nice and flat and the top nice and round

4. Make a small dot with the permanent marker on the top of each sphere

5. Set aside and let dry (or bake if you used Sculpey)

Step 2: Color the Bag

1. Add a small wide "V" to the bottom of the bottom flap of the bag with a black crayon

2. Lightly color the bottom flap on the front and back with a black crayon

3. Draw 3 curved lines to the front and back of the bag, about 1" apart from each other

Step 3: Stuff Your Bug

1. Take your newspaper (or any other scrap paper) and make around 5 balls, the number will depend on the size of your newspaper and yout starting paper bag. Stuff the crumpled balls into your bag, putting about 2 in the bottom for the head, and the other 3 in the middle for the body.

2. Scrunch the opening of the bag and tape around it to enclose the paper balls and end of the abdomen of your cicada

3. Scrunch around the head and put the rubber band around this area. The rubber band shouldn't be too tight since cicadas don't actually have necks, but it gives it a nice shape.

Step 4: Make the Wings

You need a full sheet of paper for the wings, I used white copy paper and added a goldish color to them at the end, but you could use a yellow paper or even find something slightly translucent.

1. Fold the paper in half lengthwise.

2. Starting in the middle of the short side draw a curved lines that goes to the middle of the long side and back to the middle of the opposite short side.

3. Draw a straight diagonal line up about about 1/3 the way across the opposite long side.

4. Draw a straight line connecting to the original point on the short edge.

5. Hold your wing vertically so the wider side is on the bottom.

6. Draw 3 slightly curved lines coming from the top middle.

7. Draw 3 upside down "U" shapes from the end of each line to the bottom of the wing.

8. Outline the wing and trace these lines with the black crayon.

9. Flip the paper over and trace these same lines on the back. We held our paper up to the window to be able to trace easily.

10. Keep the paper folded and cut out the wings.

11. Color front and back of each wing if wanted.

Step 5: Cut Out the Legs and Antenna

We simplified the legs a lot and made them L shapes, about 2 inches in height with a 1" foot. They are about 1/4" thick.

1. Fold your black paper in half and cut 3 sets of 1/8" thick legs.

2. Also cut 2 straight, 1/4" thick, lines for the antenna, about 2"-3" long.

Step 6: Glue Legs, Wings, Antenna, and Shaping Head

Time for glueing!

1. Glue the corners of the head down to give the cicada a rounded head.

2. Glue the wings so the straight lines are on the bottom and the U shape details drawn on the wings are towards the back. I tucked them under the rubber band and put just a dab of glue in that area. The wings should be on the side of the bug, not on top.

3. Glue the legs on the sides, towards the bottom. You can tuck them into a crease in the bag nicely. I put the ones that happened to be larger on the back.

4. Glue the antenna. They should be in the middle of the head, near the top of the "V" you drew at the beginning. They stick straight out so fold them a 1/4" from the end and put glue on that little folded piece. I used pipe cleaners on one of my bugs.

5. EYES! The eyes really make this bug come to life (not really that would be terrifying). Glue them on the side of the head. This is where the hot glue is most helpful.

Step 7: Play

You're done. Now you can play with your giant bugs and let them fly around your yard. I suggest making more than 1 since they are usually looking for a mate. Give them lots of love, play time, and a good place to relax.

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