A 3D Art Lesson – The Cool Kicks Project

The Cool Kicks Project – Original Paper Toy Design

3D Art Lesson at Somerset College Preparatory Academy, 2021
Indian River State College, Educator Preparation Institute (EPI) Internship

In Spring 2021, I completed the Florida Department of Education’s requirements to become an Art Educator in the K-12 system. A dream of mine since I was in high school, and a work-in-progress since graduating in 2017 with a BAS in Graphic Design. Actually, I’m not totally done yet; I still need to complete one more test and an educator portfolio, but I feel confident enough to say I’ve got this.

To tell the truth, the program was difficult and very stressful. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of it, but I will say that if you have a dream and it sparks passion within you – let no one stand in your way.

To become an educator, I endured much adversity. Indeed, more than I’m accustomed to – and that’s saying a lot coming from a mulatto gay guy born in a small southern town in the 80s. But even so, when I found myself in front of the class I was profoundly inspired. The few moments I got to present a lesson, I knew it was probably where I’d end my working career.

Throughout the internship, I was able to teach middle and high school students. I taught two 3D art lessons and one digital photography lesson to four different classes. Each class really left an impression on me. In fact, it was because Period 2 asked for a lesson from me that I ended up teaching my final project to them. The students in this class had awesome skills and unique styles worthy of a designer toy. Therefore, I lectured on the lowbrow art movement and its influence on modern-day pop culture; while for the lesson they were dubbed commercial artists and allowed to design a skin for a shoe.

The Cool Kicks Project is a 3D papertoy template modeled after a shoe. I designed the template specifically for this class and this lesson. The worksheets I provided included a brainstorming graphic organizer and the paper toy template itself.

Designing the form took me a couple of weeks. But construction of the toy, once fully designed, takes 10-15 minutes. However, 10-15 minutes for me can be 75-155 minutes for a class of middle schoolers, not including creating the skins of course. That being the case, I decided to make a walkthrough video for the class as they would most likely be working on it after the lesson and when I was no longer interning at Somerset.

I wasn’t sure how the students felt about my lecture (lecture in class is now taboo, by the way). Afterward, my mentor teacher requested that the students write down what they liked about my lesson, my presence as an observer, and me – overall. It was an unexpected twist ending to my time in the class, and yet so absolutely appropriate for what it was.

We jump through hoops, climb ladders, and exhaust ourselves on theoretical obstacle courses to achieve some spot somewhere. But the most practical and important piece of it all comes down to what those students think of you written on a sticky note.

There’s a great quote attributed to many people that comes to mind that I often consider. In fact, it’s one of the reasons people are typically so drawn to me as an individual.

“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care… about them.”


During my classroom observations, the students interacted with me a lot. I got to know their names, some interests, hobbies, and even some of their family situations. I tried to incorporate what I learned into the lesson and the project. I think their feedback reflects those interactions.

Are you interested in the Cool Kicks Project?

Well, just in case you are – I am providing a free download of the template below.
But, if you’d like to make a donation to support Nolli The Educator, please do. Cashapp: $NolliTheCreator.

Thanks for reading and supporting my efforts to be an artist, a designer, and now an art educator on the Treasure Coast. Please consider taking a look at my other blog posts, projects, and videos!

Tools You Need For Construction


  1. Erika Strowbridge says:

    Love this, you inspire me!

  1. […] I chose to put my future first in May 2021, resigning three years later from my Bookstore Operations role. It came as a leap of faith and a necessary end for me to continue advancing as an artist, a designer, and an educator. During my last year at the College, I completed the Educator Preparation Institute, a necessary program to prepare me for my new role and for completing a 5-year teaching certification. My experiences in the EPI are best left for another blog, but I did detail one experience – my teacher internship. […]

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