Walter Wick

Games, Gizmos and Toys in the Attic

Student Competition Entries

Check out these entries for the Walter Wick competition. These students used their creativity to create projects that are inspired by Walter Wick.

Student teams were challenged to create a diorama inspired by Walter Wick's books or a kinetic machine that can perform a simple task like Walter Wick's "Balloon Popper." The projects had to address a theme found in Walter Wick's books, use materials in a creative and innovative way, integrate at least two disciplines, and demonstrate the students' use of 21st century skills. Their supplies could not exceed $25 and found objects were encouraged. Projects were judged by grade categories. All winning projects will be on display at the museum on October 23rd at our Festival of Wonders.


Mars Estates Elementary School, Baltimore County

Orange Group

Our machine has a car that jumps in the hoop and lands in the triangle.  Bobbly-head men fall and hit the ball. We took all of our ideas and put it all in a big idea. We used model magic, straws, jacks, a play car, army men, blocks, and a bobbly-head to build our machine.

Purple Group

The machine works when you hit the dice and it hits the army man.  When it hits the army man, it does the magic trick. We came up with the idea by sticking it together to create a crazy machine. We just put random pieces in places to build it.

Red Group

Our machine works when the ball falls and hits the jacks. We came up with our idea by just putting stuff down. We built it by using model magic to make the straw stay.

Green Group

We tied the plane to the straw so that it would hit the ball, and the ball would hit the man to make the machine work.  We came up with our idea as a group. We used the jacks and straws and blocks in the box.

Blue Group

Our machine works by making stuff fall down. We came up with the idea as we put it together. We used tape, glue, sticks, string, jacks, balls, wood, tops, beans, blocks and toys.

Mount Royal Elementary School, Baltimore City

Pumpkin Illusions

Students in Ms. White’s 2nd grade class explored the repetition of objects after looking at Walter wicks’' books.  They used mirrored paper that was joined to make a right angle. They arranged several seasonal objects, especially Halloween   pumpkins that replicated themselves. They also used school supplies, pencils, scissors, crayons that created geometric shapes in the mirrored space


Federal Hill Preparatory School #45, Baltimore City

On a Scary, Scary Night

Our third grade students explored the diorama and how it could be used to create a snapshot of a story. They began by reading the book, On a Scary, Scary Night. The students were divided into teams and given the task of creating their own interpretation of the title “On a Scary, Scary Night”. Students were given the task of layering objects to create depth and making some items ‘seem’ to float or fly.

The Wilkes School, Baltimore City

The Minotaur’s Mirror Labyrinth Game

Players will roll the Roman numeral die to advance through the maze. They need to watch out for trap doors, blood stained ramps and false rooms. Players may choose from various characters to advance through the game. Theseus, Ariadne, Athenian girl or an Athenian boy can represent a player on the 3D board of the maze.

Daedalus and Icarus feather cards can change a player’s luck from good to bad. The first player to find their way out of the labyrinth, wins the game.

Magical Moving Thaumatropes

The word “thaumatrope” has Greek roots. “Thauma” means magic in Greek and “trope” refers to something that turns. The thaumatrope is somewhat magical because it creates an illusion dependent on the phenomena of the persistence of vision.

Spin one of our thaumatropes and you will see the two images on either side blend together and become one picture. Try spinning the thaumatrope at different rates of speed and see what happens!

Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School, Baltimore City

Students are engaged in an arts integration program 'Worldview: Greece' during which the study of Greek art and culture is integrated across the curriculum.

King Midas

Students worked as a team, selecting the Greek myth of King Midas, and then collaborated to map the story, using their visual literacy skills to decide which elements would be needed to depict the story. The team used materials available in the classroom and toys from home to create their diorama.

Team Midas created a Walter Wick style rhyme/puzzle to share with their classmates:

Can you see what I see?
A golden palace, a golden throne
Army men as still as stone
A clock, a tree and everything
all turned to gold by the King

Theseus and the Minotaur

Students worked as a team, selecting the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, and then collaborated to map the story, using their visual literacy skills to decide which visual elements would be needed to tell the story. The team used materials available in the classroom and toys from home to create their diorama.

Pandora's Box

Students worked as a team, selecting the Greek myth of Pandora's Box, and then collaborated to map the story, using their visual literacy skills to decide which elements would be needed to depict the story. The team used materials available in the classroom and toys from home to create their diorama.

Our Neighborhood

A group of special education students from grade one to five worked as a team, students read Can You See What I See? On a Scary Scary Night, Can You See What I See? Once Upon a Time and Can You see What I See? Dream Machine and then collaborated, using their visual literacy skills to decide would be needed to depict their neighborhood. The team used materials available in the classroom and toys from home to create their diorama.

Hawthorne Elementary School, Baltimore County


Students in Ms. De Roso’s 5th Grade class worked together to create Candy Land, a diorama based on the game of the same name. They created the piece collaboratively during their art class once a week, after voting as a group on their favorite theme. As students finished the project, they worked together to write a humorous poem in the style of the ones found in the Walter Wick books.

Hillcrest Elementary School, Baltimore County

Robot Bob

"My project was inspired by Walter Wick's diorama 'Assembly Required.' I made it with electronics parts from my uncle's and my houses. The diorama drawing shows what the main robot does. His name is Bob. He hides in plants and video tapes whatever he sees. My diorama has two baskets. One has a robot in the bath tub. The other has UFOs with aliens. At the edge of the basket is a robot peeking in."

Lisbon Elementary School, Howard County

Revenge of the Stinkbugs

This is our diorama of unusual bugs from our fifth graders. They are in plexiglass museum style boxes but many have crawled on top. They are glued on black screens inside the box.

Oakleigh Elementary School, Baltimore County


I chose the idea of nature on my diorama because I love nature and I especially love frogs, flowers and butterflies.  I am also really fascinated in leaves because they are really pretty when they change colors in the fall.  By my house some of the leaves have turned purple, which is the most prettiest color to me.  This diorama is inspired by the movie, The Princess and the Frog.

It’s Raining Cats & Dogs!

My project is about raining cats & dogs.  It has cats and dogs falling from the sky.  The materials I used were bubble wraps, pictures of cats and dogs, purple, blue and black scrap paper, pipe cleaners, and a box.  It is inspired by Walter Wick, the author and illustrator of I Spy books.  The Raining Cats & Dogs is an “I Spy” set for me.  That’s what my project is about.  This is also for Walter Wick.

Candy Machine

We came up with our project by taking votes. Cierra hot glued everything down. Cierra drew and painted. Jack made a tube and helped color. Maddie stapled all the paper down and the box. Maddie stapled all the candy down. Jack glued down the letters on the box. Maddie had the idea of making a candy machine. The reason we came up with the candy machine is because we all love candy. We used the long piece of cardboard paper to make the candy come down.

Board Game

I got my idea because I like board games. Then I just gathered game pieces and just glued them to a chess board. I also spelled my name on my project with scrabble pieces. My materials are Monopoly cards and pieces, Monopoly money dice, scrabble pieces and bag and instead of a box, I glued everything to a chess board. That is my project.

Bell Ringer

We thought of games and used lots of game pieces from clue, cards, mousetrap, and monopoly.We had to go to 7 different stores to find actual paper Mache .we first thought about a marble going through a big tube. Then we thought of it hitting a bell or two to make a loud noise. Also we needed to make it strong so we paper Mache it.We had to use problem solving and innovated thinking.  You can just ring a bell, but instead we came up with an innovated way ring the bell.

A World of Color

My partner and I thought of this project by looking at Walter Wick’s I Spy picture find books. We thought we could make one, but more 3-d, so we made a diorama to represent the 3-d look. We used a shoe box, game pieces, paper tubes, stickers, beads, toy erasers, marbles, key chains, and other art materials in the process of doing our project. We also used helpful materials such as scissors, glue and paint to help create our project. We thought our title could be called a world full of color based on all the different colors we used. We worked hard and think a lot of people will enjoy our project.

Scavenger Hunt in a Box

I spy with my little eye a red, black and white guitar pick. And a pencil with a  monkey on it. I see two silly bands a green one and a blue one. I see pokemon cards and a Mario kart on a chain. I see a dime a nickel and a penny too. 1 half a dollar. Do you see it I know I do. I see a battery and an orange smiley eraser. I see a green crayon and a pink eraser that says pink pearl.

The Wide Open Sea

You never know whats in the wide open sea. I spy with my little wavey eye, a green button, a purple purl, a brown earring, a whale, and a pink earring. Look I even see silly beans! A green one and a blue one. Do you see what I see?


In order to complete our Oakleigh Elementary Scrabble Set we came up with words that describe our school. The computer came in handy to scramble the words so we knew where to lay them out.  Then we laid out the letters to complete the scrabble words. We used words that complete our Oakleigh code of conduct and what we need to succeed in our wonderful school days. The owls represent our Oakleigh mascot. We used Otis because that is the name of our awesome Oakleigh owl mascot.

Worcester Preparatory School, Worcester County

Town of Games

Our team brainstormed, voted, and the winning theme was “Town of Games”.   We were creative in our use of materials by using game pieces, toy blocks, and bottle tops.  We used playing cards to pave the town’s streets. We worked together to construct the buildings.  Building the town required us to use math skills to measure and build the structures.  We gave each other suggestions about building and decorating the town.

I  Spy Loggers Camp

We brainstormed and had the idea to use camp as our theme.  We expanded on the idea and created “I Spy Loggers Camp.”  We worked as a team in constructing the camp.  We took turns painting and building.  We used an eraser for a chimney and were creative in making the logs for the camp.  To build our camp, we used math skills to measure materials and determine placement of objects in the camp.

Treasure Island

Our group had the general idea of islands as a theme. After discussing islands, we agreed that our project would be “Treasure Island.” Our knowledge of geography helped us to plan and construct the island.  We planned to include a volcano, but decided as a group that it was not feasible. Instead we decided to make many snakes to guard the treasure.  We used different materials to create treasures.  We intended to use blue sand for water, but another group used it, so we painted instead.


We debated and were unable to agree on any one theme.  So, “Imagination” includes each team member’s theme. In creating “Imagination,” we used literature, art, and math skills.  We worked together to design  the layout.  Cotton balls, toy figures, artificial flowers are some of the materials we used, innovatively, to decorate our project.  We listened to each other’s ideas when we were unsure of how to build or make a part of the project.

Underwater Jungle

Our team came up with two major themes.  We could not agree on one, so we combined them into “Underwater Jungle.”  We collaborated by working together in pairs to mold and decorate our figures.  We were creative and innovative in designing “Underwater Jungle” because our animals and sea-life are whimsical,  instead of conventional. We reused water bottles to create our fish and other animals. We used our knowledge of history to construct a replica of the sunken ship the Titanic in our work.

Welcome to the Jungle

Our team brainstormed, debated, and voted. The winning theme was “Welcome to the Jungle.” We worked in teams on different aspects of the project, landscaping, construction, etc.  Each member had to be consulted before anyone could make changes to the project.  We used math skills to measure the trees.  When we had problems building the trees, we shared ideas to come up with the solution of dividing some materials and using some different materials.


Each team member brought in objects related to his or her theme idea.  After reviewing the objects, the team voted "Circus" as the theme. We used math skills to build "Circus's" structures by measuring our materials. We shared ideas in order to figure out how to construct the tent.  We were creative by using popsicle sticks to make people and by painting the bleachers to look like a crowd.

Candy Land

After discussing themes, our team decided on the majority’s choice “Candy Land.”  Since we couldn't use real candy,  we were creative by using candy wrappers  to decorate the buildings and by using styrofoam balls  covered with DumDum wrappers for trees.  We didn’t have miniature marshmallows, so we talked about what we could use instead and came up with the idea to spray paint packing peanuts to look like them.  We used math skills to measure the materials to construct the buildings.

Battlegrove Elementary School, Baltimore County


This group explored the dark and light side of Halloween in a diorama.

Hamilton Elementary School, Baltimore City

Silly Band I Spy

I spy three continents; Australia, Africa and America, three states; Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, The statue of Liberty, a peace sign, 2 liberty bells and a dollar sign.

Orems Elementary School, Baltimore County


After looking at Walter Wick books, including Optical Tricks, my fifth grade students decided that the theme for their projects would be illusions.  The students created original designs and used contrasting colors to emphasize the illusion using math skills to measure and draw with rulers and compasses.  Each box was created when students selected objects (toys, mirrors, magazine pictures, etc.) and combined them with photographs they had manipulated using photo software in the computer lab.

Warren Elementary School, Baltimore County

Our dioramas

Two fifth grade classes worked together to create 4 dioramas: A playground, Christmas morning, a boy’s bedroom and a girl’s bedroom.

6-8th grade

Maree Garnett Farring, Baltimore City

Dinosaur Days

We made a diorama of a prehistoric environment that includes an erupting volcano, a cave carved out of a cliff, trees, grasses, bushes, a setting red sun, and a river for the dinosaurs to drink from. We have the dinosaurs doing many natural things from drinking water, eating leaves and grass, and even trying to steal eggs.


We did the Ravens Stadium. In this project we used clay, a cardboard box, Popsicle sticks, paint, and tissue paper. At first, we had to use our problem solving skills to decide what parts of the project we would each work on and to decided what materials would work best for our idea. We came up with the project theme after our teacher told us to try and incorporate Baltimore into our project so we all thought of the Baltimore Ravens. While working on this project, we all learned how to work with each other’s differences and listen to and respect each group members’ ideas. 

Old Court Middle School, Baltimore County

Each diorama was designed by an individual student and the others will help to work collaboratively to carry out the design.

9-12th grade

Walter Johnson High School

Automata Project

“This is our machine,
we think it's pretty keen.
It bumps and knocks
and ticks and tocks.
It has gears that grind
(and sometimes bind.)
But take a look
and see what you find.”

Students at Walter Johnson High School were given the problem to design a mechanical toy for younger children, and that the toy should be centered around a collective theme.

The entire class of 32 9-12 grade students came up with ideas such as fairy tales, music, trains, ocean, zoo, etc… and according to these areas we broke into teams of 8. Each team designed and built the entire mechanism.