Collage Ideas


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 cardboard.

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:
cotton balls

pom poms


torn or cut out scraps from old magazines or newspapers

spare photos

confetti shapes (such as heart shapes, or "Merry Christmas")

left over construction paper scraps


pre-packaged foam shapes

jelly beans and gumdrops or other candies

colorful paper confetti shreds

packing "peanuts" -- starch or styrofoam


small ceramic tile pieces

paper "lace" doilies

scraps of colored yarn

colored sequins

plastic rhinestones

bits of used ribbon

wiggly "googly" eyes

tissue paper -- cut in shapes, or scrunched into "flowers", stems, or leaves

old puzzles pieces (great use for puzzles with missing pieces)

dried flowers


dried leaves

dried moss

dried and crushed eggshells

feathers (natural and dyed)

sunflower seeds

stale goldfish crackers

unshelled peanuts




popcorn -- popped and unpopped

dried beans

dried pasta shapes

small dried twigs

small pebbles

dried sand

whole cloves and dry powdered spices

uncooked rice -- plain or colored with food coloring or liquid watercolor

old silk flowers or leaves

toothpicks, plain or colored

puffy foam paints

 Caution:  Never leave small children unattended with the above materials as many are potential choking hazards.








About Glue

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 right. 

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.


 More Project Ideas


Summer Sunflowers

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 petal 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 for patterns.)  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 summertime decorations!

Confetti KrinklesEaster Eggs

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 shapes (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 layered.

Fall Leaves

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!

Indian Corn

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...)


Letter Collage

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

Collage is 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 their creation.



Need to order supplies?  Let us help!

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 Discount School Supply.

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Chubby Glue Stick with Disappearing Color

Price:   $1.32


Riverside Paper Tru-Ray(R) Assorted Color Construction Paper, 12" x 18"

Riverside Paper Tru-Ray(R) Assorted Color Construction Paper, 12" x 18"

50 sheets for $3.08

Extra long for great collage fun!  10 fade-resistant colors that keep art projects bright and fresh. Acid-free. Made from 50% recycled paper.

Ross(R) All-Purpose White Glue, 4 Oz.

All Purpose White Glue, 4 oz.





Tacky Glue!



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Chubby Glue Stick with Disappearing Color

Price:   $1.32



Ross(R) All-Purpose White Glue, 4 Oz.

All Purpose White Glue, 4 oz.





Tacky Glue!



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