Since 2014… Opening each center usually starts with an “Around the Room” Game.
My Draw around the Room activity has been popular. (Both with my students and with my online readers!) Today I share my Collage around the Room activity.
Just like the Draw around the room, this is an activity designed to quickly expose the students to a lot of different collage papers, glues, scissors and techniques. It is done prior to “opening” the collage center.
Each of my 6 tables will be set up with different materials. I have gone back and forth between 4 and 6 different “boxes” on my worksheet. Really it would depend on what types of papers you have for your students to use and what techniques you want them to experience during this activity. This year we had Magazines, Construction paper (solid colors), Tissue paper and “Scrapbook paper” (patterns and such.) Different tables had different glues and scissors that might best fit that type of paper. I have regular scissors and funky edged scissors for the kids to use at most of the tables. Glue sticks, sponge glue, and white glue bottles are at different tables, with the goal that kids try out the different glues. I try to match them with which paper I think they work best with. Students move in table groups from one table to the next to complete one collage at each table. We usually spend 2 days on this part of the activity.
As kids finish up and for the 3rd and 4th day of the project, they get a small ½ sheet of tag board to make a free choice collage. A mini lesson that is part of this week unit is the “Rule of Space” and how to use focal points in a collage. The small free-choice collage can be any combinations of papers, but with the goal of showing the “Rule of Space.”
Some management things to note:
I usually assign table group jobs. There is a “Glue Boss”, a “Paper Pusher”, the “Garbage Man” and a “Table Leader” Glue boss checks that all the glues are properly closed and upright at the end of the work session. Paper Pusher (probably should come up with a better name, but I like alliteration) is in charge of making sure the bin with the paper supply is neatly organized at the end of the period. I think that Garbage man and table leaders are self-explanatory. The jobs are chosen and kept for the 2 days.
Another management tip is that I tell kids that if they reject a piece of paper and it now has glue on it… it must go in the garbage. Or paper that is smaller than the palm of their hand is probably not going to be used by someone else, so in the bin. BTW There is a garbage tub at each table! (This is very important to limit unnecessary movement.) Everyone picks up stuff from the floor and the Garbage Man empties it at the end of the period. I sometimes play a little game that there is a “magic” piece of garbage and the person that picks it up will win a prize. (I have a bin of pencils and erasers for my rewards.) Or alternately to the fastest, quietest and cleanest table gets the prize.
Just like the Drawing game, there are laminated Vocab and Technique cards at each table. These can get lost in the bins of paper, so the table leader needs to make sure they are clipped together and set aside during clean up.
I will tell you that collage is my personal favorite medium, and I have used it in my own artwork for decades. Managing all these piles of paper, glue and scissors can look and feel like chaos to the uninitiated but I love it.
Changes Over the Years
2020-2021 Sadly no around the room games during Covid times… I look forward to ramping these up again once the sharing materials restrictions are lifted.
- Just like my drawing game, I went ahead and updated my collage cards to match the word wall format. As soon as we were done with the cards at the tables (2 days) I put one set on the cupboards of the collage center. Usually I just put the center posters on the upper cupboards, but running out of room I realized that my lower cupboards are easily seen by the kids sitting at the nearby tables, so it makes a good space for these.
- Slightly different paper media choices. Last year I had colored paper and “scrapbook paper” as separate media boxes, but the kids got confused since they were so similar in texture and thickness. So I combined them and just called that box “colored paper.”
- Kids love collage! Having the whole room doing collage makes for a much more active and noisy room. Lots of kids standing, sharing choices and supplies, laughing, talking and mess, noise, mess, noise. Kids putting glue on their hands, putting TOO much glue on papers, things getting stuck to each other. Wait a minute, do I file this under good or bad? It’s a little of both. I laughed quite a few times this week, but was exhausted by the end.
- Not really bad necessarily, but I added a “mixed media” box and put out my boxes of ribbon, trim, and fancy tapes and this presented some new challenges. They went crazy for this table! But wow, the resulting collages are very bulky and 3 dimensional. So I think I might ditch that box next year. Plus they weren’t very thoughtful with it and just blobbed stuff on. However, there was some good problem solving for figuring out how to cut and attach these more unusual items. These were stored in small plastic drawers which are now a super disaster. Not sure if I will bother cleaning these, or let someone else take responsibility later.
- Trying to write the vocab on the back of the worksheet after some gluing has happened is difficult. A few kids figured out this would be a problem ahead of time and walked around to get all the vocab first. Others got so involved with the front part that they completed forgot about the back and turned it in without doing the vocab at all. I don’t want to remove the vocab portion because I like the more active way to get some vocab, rather than the just sit and copy from a book or projection. Plus I really do want them demonstrating the words in the collages. Clearly the kids that didn’t write the words, also didn’t use the concepts or techniques. Not sure if I need to do any changes, because the few that didn’t get it are the same kids that would not follow directions in any other version I might do.
- I don’t think I will include the mixed media table. I might need to reduce the number of vocab cards and make the boxes side by side like I did the drawing game so the words don’t get forgotten.
How do you introduce students to collage?
What is your favorite type of glue for kids to use with collage?