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Creative Collage Ideas for School Projects

A student presents an art project among her teacher and peers.

Use up spare time in the classroom with this classic artistic activity.

Whether you have a special art teacher who visits your classroom or you conduct your own art projects, there are a number of creative collage projects you can try.

Further Reading: Saying Goodbye to Students Before School Ends

I taught kindergarten at a private school, so art was part of my lesson planning. I chose to teach my kiddies how to make collages because it's a flexible, forgiving technique that appeals to children of all ages and abilities. Plus, this great, hands-on activity promotes artistic expression, which should be encouraged.

Creating Collages in the Classroom

My class enjoyed making collages throughout the school year, so I set up several boxes and asked parents to bring in recycled materials from home. Obvious paper options include gift wrap, wallpaper, greeting cards, tissue paper, sandpaper, aluminum foil, magazines, and newspaper. But almost anything that's fairly flat and can be glued on a surface—bits of colorful plastic plates, foam from produce trays, bubble wrap, egg cartons, yarns, fabrics, etc.—will work. Encourage your little learners to be imaginative about what they use!

Focusing on a theme for the collage project will help your class get started. For instance, you may want to relate to your current curriculum when choosing a topic. Because children will have a good knowledge base to work from, ideas may come easily. But here are a few options to get you started:

  • Follow a read-aloud story with a collage activity. Challenge your students to create a collage that expresses the main idea of the story or depicts their favorite character.
  • Choose a weekend or vacation as a focus. Ask the kids to bring in memorabilia (ticket stubs, menus, pictures from brochures) to make a scrapbook collage. Holidays also make for colorful and symbolic collage pages.
  • A math collage activity might involve a graphic illustration of the number 10 (for example, 10 animal pictures, 10 buttons, or 10 pom poms). An equation such as 6 + 4 = 10 could be illustrated with six gift-wrap circles, four newspaper squares, and 10 fabric triangles.

Picture and primary storybooks are tremendous resources for examples of this type of art, and they can offer more inspiration to your little artists.

Exploring the Medium

There's more than one way to make a collage. Check out these variations of the art style you can explore with your students.

  • Torn paper collage: Have your students tear shapes and images from colored tissue paper and glue them to a piece of construction paper or card stock. Encourage them to experiment with layering the colors to create new blends. To view this technique, share the books of author Eric Carle, who's most known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
  • Nature collage: Have the children gather small twigs, stones, leaves, flowers, and seeds. These can be used to create a beautiful collage that's full of texture. Author and illustrator Lois Ehlert likes to mix colors with her cut-paper images and combine them with real objects from nature. Check out her books, including Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf and Feathers for Lunch.
  • Recycled art collage: This type of collage makes use of a variety of materials by repurposing them in a new way. Author Jeannie Baker used mixed media in her books Window and The Story of Rosy Dock. She constructed realistic depictions of life using fabrics, papers, grasses, and more. Encourage your students to look out their window (at home or school) and create a collage of what they see using a combination of recycled materials.
  • Texture collage: A famous author and illustrator of children's books who uses texture collage is Leo Lionni. His books Swimmy, Inch by Inch, and Frederick are examples of this technique. Challenge your students to explore texture, color, and collage. Provide them with paints, colored paper, and pieces of textured materials, such as burlap, sandpaper, coins, and straw mats. Invite the kids to make rubbings with crayons and paper, and then cut shapes out of these rubbings to include in the collage.

Further Reading: 5 Tips to Keep Your Students Engaged at the End of the School Year

There's no reason not to experiment with any of these creative collage ideas for school! Just keep an assortment of materials in your art cart (including glue sticks and stronger adhesives, depending on your collage materials), and have your kiddos try out this art form (and read these books!) throughout the year.