WQED changes Lives
shop WQED


Western PA History Bridges and Buildings Rivers and Valleys Folks in Community The Arts Having Fun

Pop-Up Reconstructions

Construct three-dimensional pop-ups of Pittsburgh at different of its history. Collect clues from historic Pittsburgh views and maps for reference:


  • Paper--for practice
  • Oaktag--9-inch x 12-inch file folders work well
  • Clear tape
  • Glue (glue sticks work well)
  • Pencils
  • Old travel magazines
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • X-Acto knives

Find several buildings or building details in the video segments featuring area archictecture.

Decide on the basic shaped and size of each building. Is it a square or rectangle? Is it short, tall, wide, or narrow?

Use practice paper first, then transfer your ideas to oaktag.

Make a pop-up street scene!


step 1

Make a book fold in the paper by folding the sheet in half.

step 2Step 3

Mark 2 or 4 cuts on the folded edge; cut and crease tab as shown and return to flat position. Open paper to the flat position.

Step 4Step 5 Push table to inside of folded page (reverse the crease). Try to avoid any part of the pop-up showing beyond the edge when the paper is in the folded position.
Step 6

The top of the building (dome or other decoration) may also pop-up. Draw in the detail; use an X-acto knife to make a slit so scissors can cut around the shape; fold into "up" position.

Open page. Flatten paper and make the surface decorations and textures with markers, crayons, pens and other drawing tools.

Pop-up folder 1

Pop-up folder 2

Pop-up folder 3

Pop-up folder 4


  1. Take a second sheet of oaktag, a different color, if desired; make one bookfold, apply glue around outer edge; position it as a cover for the pop-up, so the holes don't show.
  2. Take several streets and combine them into a Pop-Up City Book.
  3. Build a free-standing pop-up city on a larger base by gluing buildings to the surface and supporting them easel-style with a triangle of oaktag (see examples below).
  4. Make a pop-up of the buildings in Changing Scale for a vivid example of how Pittsburgh's scale has dramatically changed over 200 years.
Stand-up town 1
Stand-up town 3
Stand-up town 2
Stand-up town 4

Source: Sue Neff, Introducing Architecture: A Series of Worksheets and Activities for Classroom Use, Pittsburgh History & Landmarks, 1997.


Back to Activities


[Previous] Discussion
Western PA History