When it comes to collage making, as
with most preschool art, don't expect your child to end up with a
finished project that looks attractive to adult eyes. Certainly
some children manage to create a stunning masterpiece, but most don't.
And really, to do so is not even the goal! The goal is to learn
about creativity and themselves. So try to see this as an
opportunity for your child to experiment with shape and texture and
color-- with wet and dry, with sticky and smooth, and so on.
Keep in mind that when young
children do collage they really don't have any conscious goal in mind as
they work, and so they get a lot of creative inspiration through
exploring novelty. In other words, don't put the same old items
out at each session. And don't put every possible collage material
under the sun out either. Put out just a few things at a time
(or one thing that is somewhat varied, like different shapes of colored
paper). And for some projects it may be enough to put out one type
of item only (for example: only cotton balls), which will allow the
child to focus on the experience of applying the glue and sticking
something to it.
Of course, it's important to remember
that every child is different. And so while one will be fascinated
by exploring how the glue feels, observing it's sheen and the way it can
make white droplets or puddles or long runny streaks, another
child will quickly become bored with this sort of play and run off to
find something else to do. That child may simply need to have a
more exciting assortment put out (or maybe art isn't her thing right
now). And this is fine. Just observe your own child and
tailor the activity accordingly.
In addition to varying the
assortment of collage items from time to time, you can all vary the
paper (or other material) that you use to do the collage on.
Try different colors of construction paper, or an old piece of
And of course we preschool
teachers love to provide pre-cut shapes out of construction paper --
such as flower, a large letter shape, or animal shapes -- for
collage. Not only does this make very small children feel more as
if they're really made something impressive (and satisfy the parent
in this regard), but it can be a nice way to tie the art project in
with whatever else we've been learning about --
say ocean animals or different kinds of eggs.
It is important that you always
supervise children during these activities. Children must be
warned not to place the materials in the mouth, where they can become
choking hazards. Be aware that young children sometimes try
putting such small objects in the ears or nose where they will cause
discomfort and eventually infection. Talk to your child
about the problem. Also, collage activities are not
appropriate for children who still place most objects their mouth.
As a final note of caution, be
aware that very young children may rub their eyes when using glitter,
sand, glue, or paint. Stay close by and be prepared to
intervene and wash hands.
Possible collage materials:
torn or cut
out scraps from old magazines or newspapers
shapes (such as heart shapes, or "Merry
construction paper scraps
and gumdrops or other candies
"peanuts" -- starch or styrofoam
bits of used
-- cut in shapes, or scrunched into "flowers",
stems, or leaves
pieces (great use for puzzles with missing
(natural and dyed)
popped and unpopped
and dry powdered spices
-- plain or colored with food coloring or liquid
flowers or leaves
plain or colored
leave small children unattended with the above materials
as many are potential choking hazards.
As most parents know, glue sticks
are a great way for preschoolers to apply glue as they are easy for them
to use and don't make a terrible mess. But while glue sticks might
work for some collage items, like magazine scraps or small amounts of
glitter, they really won't help with most of the items in the list at
So if you want to do these projects
you will need to find a place where you and your child can use regular
white craft glue without ruining carpets or other fabrics.
Next, you'll need some glue ("Tacky Glue" is the best but the much
thinner "Elmer's School Glue" is usually cheaper), a little dish to pour
it in (old butter tubs work great, as you can pop the lid on when you're
done), and some kind of "brush" for applying the glue. Obviously
you don't want to use an actual paintbrush unless you want to carefully
soak and clean it after each session. Instead try using a
popsicle stick, or better yet, a commercially made glue "brush" designed
for preschool use. These have a handle similar to a chubby
preschool paintbrush (only shorter) and a flexible plastic piece at the
end that serves as the "brush".
Some other exciting options are the new
"glitter glue" roll-on pens that eliminate a lot of mess as well as
other difficulties young preschoolers have with squeeze-style glue pens.
You will need large white paper plates
for this craft. Print and cut the
sunflower pattern, and use it to trace
out the sunflower shape on your paper plates. Please note that you will
have to draw the lines an inch or two from the printed pattern, to
enlarge it, or just use the pattern as a visual reference and free-hand
draw your own flower. Then paint the
paper plates with bright yellow tempra paint. Allow them to dry
completely. Alternatively, you can leave the plate round and
use the entire plate for the center of the sunflower. Then use the
pattern to cut yellow petals from construction paper.
Now use white craft glue to stick
sunflower seeds onto the center of the sunflowers. You can get
plain raw seeds cheaply at most Pet/Farm Feed stores or in stores which
carry seed for wild birds. Otherwise, use unsalted cooked seeds
for this project.) If you like, you can attach "stems" cut from
extra long green construction paper. Add a few leaves for extra
fun. (You can probably get by with glue stick for this part,
although craft glue will be sturdier.)
Glitter Sand Art
For this craft you will need to cut
out shapes of a seahorse or a starfish. (Click
Now mix a little gold glitter with clean, dry sand and put it in a
shaker bottle (an empty glitter shaker or an old, empty salt shaker will
do). And lay out some old newspaper under the area will you will
be making your art. Lay your paper shapes on top of the newspaper.
Dribble white craft glue onto your seahorse and starfish shapes.
You can make interesting designs with your glue or just smear it lightly
all over. Now sprinkle the glitter sand onto the glue. Be
sure to use plenty. Now shake off off the glitter sand that
doesn't stick onto a paper plate or etc. You'll be able to pour it
back into the shaker to reuse. Lay your creations out to
dry. Later you can hang them up in the house for some nice
You will need to start by cutting out
large "eggs" out of different colors of construction paper. Your
eggs don't have to be perfect -- just large oval shapes that are
narrower on one end. To decorate your eggs, you can use
colorful pom poms or confetti "krinkle" shreds (shown at right) or try
using crushed egg shell. If you've dyed some Easter eggs a little
early (or saved some broken dyed shells from last year), you can crush
up some of the colorful dried shells to use in collage. Add a
little glitter, and the result can be quite stunning.
Fluffy Lambs and Chicks
This is a fun activity to do with the
youngest preschoolers as they will be impressed with the soft fluffy
result and love touching their cuddly lambs or chicks. The hardest
part is cutting out the
(and wiping up the glue afterwards).
Just put out a supply of cotton puffs -- white for lambs, yellow for
chicks -- and be sure to pull and fluff each puff before putting out for
use; this makes it necessary to use fewer puffs and it gives a better
looking result. For fun trying using other colors of puffs, like
pink or lavender!
Tissue Paper Collage
This is a pretty craft that calls for
small tissue paper squares (or other small scraps) in multiple colors,
diluted glue (or liquid starch), some sponge style paint brushes for
application, and colorful construction paper shapes. Cut the
construction paper into the desired shape -- butterfly shapes or Easter
egg shapes are especially nice. Instruct the child to lightly
brush the diluted glue onto the construction paper and apply the tissue
paper squares, smoothing them down. Squares can be overlapped and
This is an art activity that can be
coupled with a neighborhood "nature walk" to gather the necessary
leaves. The leaves must be completely dry however, so make sure
that they sit out on some newspaper to dry a day or two if they are
damp. Choose some nice fall colors for your background, like
orange, brown, red, or even purple. Have your child glue the
leaves to the paper. Don't worry if he decides to crumble them and
sprinkle them on this way -- it's all about exploration. Other
elements that could be added to the project include acorns or dried seed
pods, glitter or fall-themed confetti sprinkles, or even feathers,
natural or dyed. Paint could be incorporated as well.
Your child could first "do a fall painting" (whatever that means to him
or her) and then, when dry, glue on the leaves. Or the paper could
be stamped/painted with either sponged shapes or cookies cutters that
have been dipped in paint. Another option is to let your child
paint the collage, after the glue has dried. Experiment!
Colored popcorn is what makes this
craft stand out. First, air pop some popcorn (i.e. no oil!).
Next, place the cooled popcorn in large Ziploc baggies with some
powdered tempra paint. Use three baggies, one with purple
powder, one with red powder, and one with yellow powder. Shake
well to coat the corn. Meanwhile, use yellow construction
paper to cut out some large, yellow ears of corn. You can make
these life size, or much larger. Have your child glue the
colored popcorn to the paper corn "ears". Make your own collage
too, and talk with them about how they can mix the different colored
kernels in anyway they like. Some ears might be all one color,
while another mixes all the colors. They could even play with
patterning the colors -- one red, one purple, one yellow, and repeat.
(Be sure to explain the popcorn is
not for eating! The paint is non-toxic, but still...)
There are many ways to do this craft,
depending on what skills your child is focusing on. One fun
activity is to simply find collage items that start with a particular
letter. You can use spare photos, old magazines, newspapers,
online images and clipart that show things that start with that letter.
Or you can use physical objects whose names begin with that letter. For example, if the letter collage was about
the letter "B", you might have pictures of boys, basketballs, boxes,
berries, things that are the color blue or brown... as well as some
actual buttons and some dried beans.
Still another idea is to draw a large
letter on a piece of construction paper and have your child "glue inside
the lines". You can also
cut out construction paper in letter shapes or to
buy large pre-cut letter shapes like the one's shown, available from
Discount School Supply.
Different Theme Ideas
a great art medium to combine with teaching, as you can see in the
"Letter Collage" project above. Other ways to use collage to
extend learning include using themes about :
Shapes: Children can
either glue different shapes (in varying sizes) onto the paper as
you talk with them about the different shapes, or the collage can be
done with images cut from old magazines or catalogs that show items
in a feature shape. Wheels, hula hoops, balls, buttons, could
all be things that are round. Books, doors, shoe boxes, a
cookie tray, are all things that are rectangular. Such
activities help children to become aware of the natural geometry all
around them, and can be a fun game. Be sure to include simple
(i.e. obvious) shapes in with the more complex images of real
objects. Note that many teaching supply stores do carry
collage materials that come in various shapes, saving the work of
having to hand cut all the materials.
Textures: this is a fun
one to use up old scraps of sand paper, fake or faux fur, aluminum
foil, variegated cardboard, even sand. Old clothes or fabric
scraps, contributed by parents, could also provide lots of fun
variations in texture. Corduroy, imitation velvet, denim--
each has it's own texture.
Colors: This could be
done in a variety of ways. Cut out pictures and objects all in
one color, but in varying shades and textures, could be provided.
Or children could be given a piece of tag board or card stock that
has a square of each color printed on it, and the child must choose
match collage items to the color on the card stock and glue it on.
You could even use the names of the colors, printed in the
color, to encourage "sight word" identification of colors.
Animals: Doing a collage
with pictures from old nature magazines gives a great opportunity to
talk about different animals, the colors, sizes, shapes, fur
patterns -- even their behaviors and habitats. "The jaguar
lives in the jungle. What other animal on your page lives in
the jungle?" "Which animals roar? Which ones swim?"
Plant Parts: This is one
where you can used real plant pieces to glue on the paper.
Dried flower petals (parents can save them from their yards), dried
seeds and seed pods, dried leaves, all can be used in collage.
Skin color or other themes about
accepting diversity: Let children create collages that
feature people of all different skin colors and nationalities.
My Favorite Things: This one
works best if children can cut or tear their own pictures, but they
could be simply given some piles with precut items from magazines,
etc. Then they glue pictures of things they like to tag board
or construction paper. At circle time they can talk about
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Chubby Glue Stick with Disappearing Color
All Purpose White Glue, 4 oz.