Collage is one of the most free-form types of art your kids can do. It involves sticking stuff onto a surface to make a picture or pattern. It can be anything!
The first step is to collect the raw materials to work with. Getting organized is the hardest part, so start small and grow your collection gradually.
Use a large box or laundry basket to hold your recycled cardboard, paper, and wood scraps. Smaller items can be sorted into shoeboxes or plastic ice cream tubs and kept in the larger box. When you want to do collage, just pull out your junk box or basket and everything is handy.
There are three basic components to collage:
The Surface or Base
Heavy paper or light card is much more successful as a base than lightweight paper, which tends to tear. You can also use old cardboard boxes or scraps of plywood.
The "Stuff" Itself
As for the “stuff,” just about anything will do! A few ideas are:
- Paper and card of all kinds including tissue or crepe paper, used gift wrap, greeting cards, candy wrappers, old magazines, junk mail. Paper can be cut, folded or torn.
- Fabric scraps, leftover yarn, embroidery thread, buttons.
- Packaging materials such as corrugated cardboard, bubble wrap, shredded paper, tape, and string.
- Recycled, washed junk like bottle caps and lids.
- Natural materials like acorn caps, shells, autumn leaves, dried flowers, seed heads, sycamore seeds, small pine cones, feathers, fleece (natural or dyed), cotton. Children respond particularly well to an attractive array of natural materials, and often produce their most beautiful collage creations from these. When you go out for walks, take along a bag to collect any interesting bits and pieces you find. Being on the lookout for interesting things is also good for children’s observation skills.
- Crafts materials like glitter, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, colored matchsticks, little pom-poms, precut shapes etc. Although these are convenient, I like to limit the amount of this type of material, as it doesn’t give as much rein to your child’s imagination as most junk or natural materials.
Gluing it Together
For younger children, and older children working with flat materials like paper and fabric, put a small quantity of white glue in a yogurt container, and use a flat brush about an inch wide as an applicator. Add more glue as required. Afterwards, wash the brush carefully and throw away the container.
Allow plenty of drying time, especially in damp weather. Glue sticks are convenient when traveling, and for sticking work into scrapbooks. However, they don’t have the holding power of white glue.
Older children working with chunky materials will work much more quickly and easily with a glue gun. Yes, they may burn themselves at first, but they quickly learn to stay away from the painful end. Make sure to stay with children using a glue gun until they learn to use it properly.
If you want to seal and protect your collage when it's done, brush over it with a thin layer of watered-down white glue. A sealant called Mod Podge is made specifically for this purpose. (Compare Prices)
You can use the same basic collage technique to create different kinds of artwork. For instance: