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Awesome Animal Collages

I have students ranging in age from TK and up to 7th grade. Finding engaging projects both achievable and challenging is a constant quest. I found this one on

On this post, it appeared 5th or 6th graders were creating these collages. However I believed even my TK kids would enjoy and succeed making these in my small class setting. Turning this into a three-week project, and it gave the kids the opportunity to connect with students they hadn't met from classes on other days.

Week one was Paint Week! Everyone got a large sheet of brown craft paper and was given the option of crayons or pastels to make large swirls or other designs. I left this very open ended because I wanted this to be a project of complete freedom. After there was a good amount of coverage on the craft paper, we brought out the tempera paints. I encouraged as many ways to apply the paint as possible. We used traditional brush to paper, sponging, splattering… sky’s the limit. I found it interesting that while some kids relished the freedom, others were a little lost without a play-by-play procedure. While I’ve been teaching it is important to follow directions, it is also good to explore within safe boundaries.

Because I have so many younger students, I made it very clear from the beginning these pieces of art were going to be torn up into a couple dozen pieces. There were a couple sad faces at first, but most kids embraced the idea of destruction!

Week 2 was Collage Week. Between weeks I tore each artwork into about 24 strips and prepared folders with one from each artwork. Using most of the strips from these folders, students painted the back of each torn strip with thinned white glue and arranged them carefull

y in a starburst pattern on 11x14 Bristol board.

On the final week, the kids drew eyes and a nose for the animal they wanted to integrate into their collage onto glossy white stock (as a graphic artist, I had some old paper sample books that provided the perfect material for this). I had a sample sheet of eyes, noses and beaks drawn to scale as an example. Students used sharpies and water based color markers to make some cool color blends. After cutting and gluing the facial features onto the collage, most kids added tempera paint to add mouths, facial features, whiskers, feathers, spots and more. Some wanted to create a different animal, and so we added to our menagerie.

It was during this week that one of my heroes, author and illustrator Eric Carle passed away. For those not familiar with his work, his works are comprised of painted tissue paper cut and arranged into collages, making charming creatures such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Creating something along a similar vein felt like a way to honor him.

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