It is beneficial to allow students to explore an art medium before giving them a thematic goal or asking them to work with a specific content. After a collage exploration (which can last for one class or more) and a lesson focused on creating a shape collage, students will be ready to connect shapes to make people, animals, etc. My good old saying is: “Lines connect to make shapes and shapes connect to make ANYTHING you want!”
Never underestimate the power of knowledge. I believe that if there is enough exploration of the materials, and a clear, engaging and fun motivation, each student in their personal developmental stage will thrive with a challenge!
Motivation: We review how we cut shapes; flat and pointy shapes and curvy shapes. I describe and speak about them in categories: Shapes we all know and Shapes we invent. Today we are going to use shapes we all know and some of our own invented shapes to make people. I ask the class: “What shape do you know that we could use for a body? A head? Legs? Arms?” We build a person together. Then we invent some shapes. How about a fancy shoe shape? A dress shape? A hat shape? They LOVE it! They realize the possibilities are endless! And they are empowered to create and invent. I also talk about the smaller facial features. Do the eyes have to be a perfect circle? No! We are practicing. We try our best, and if our eyes look like triangles, that is okay! The results amaze me every time! I arrange the shapes on a background and discuss how we should “Always Play First” by arranging our shapes on the page without gluing right away.
Lesson Development: Review how to cut flat and pointy shapes and curvy shapes. Review how to talk to our scissors like a pencil (view shape collage). Remember our scissors can draw for us! You will hear children ask if they can use a pencil or marker to draw in the small parts; I just remind them that their scissors can do it. They try and try again, and become so proud to accomplish something they thought would be impossible. Their joy and pride in creating their own person in collage is enough to have you beam with joy!
Materials: background paper of your choice no larger than 8 1/2 x 11in (I use an 8×8 square), cut paper shapes in various sizes and colors (I use fadeless paper because it comes in a variety of shades for each hue), glue jars, glue brushes, scissors.
Reflection: The children are so proud to share their collages with one another. In a circle we look at each collage, and we discuss at what shapes we see. Then the artist can share something special about their person.