Last month I was invited to a local preschool’s makerspace to do a project with their 4 and 5 year olds. I decided to use materials they collected for the space, a lot of which were recyclable, plus I brought some of my own and we made recycled collages! Let me tell you all about the ingredients and process.
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Supplies needed to make recycled collage with preschoolers:
~ Cardboard pieces, one for each (ours were about 10 x 10 inches)
~ An assortment of small, recycled materials such as: shredded toilet rolls, small pieces of cardboard, bottle tops, cut-up egg cartons, wooden beads, buttons, corks, bubble wrap, popsicle sticks, cupcake liners, pine cones
~ Small plates, trays and containers to display ingredients
, white school glue (Make sure they all work perfectly and are not blocked)
~ Jars with lids for paint (we like to use Bonne Maman jam jars)
, soft brush (I like Royal)
~ Embellishments like dyed rice, yarn scraps and pom-poms
Process for making recycled collage with preschoolers:
1. Spend some time collecting content. Enlist friends, family, co-teachers to help collect. Once you have plenty of materials (so much so that you never have to tell the kids to stop making their creations and never have to worry about running out of anything), lay out the materials on the table. Find your characters. I like to use berry cartons and wicker chargers, but you can use anything you have as long as it’s low-ish and flat-ish. The more materials you have in one layer the better so that kids can see everything and don’t have to dig around to find something.
2. We had 6-8 students coming into the space at a time, so I made sure they had everything they needed within their reach. I kept three sets of everything, plus they each had their own, newly filled gum.
3. Place a piece of cardboard in front of each child. While they are working write their name on a piece of tape and attach it to the back.
4. We had half an hour and most of the children had finished their work by then. For those quick to finish work, have another autonomous activity nearby if you have the space, such as a block area or a chalkboard. Or give them another piece of cardboard if they want to make more.
5. Leave to dry. We did Part 2 a week later.
6. When I came back the next week, I brought with me some of the paint I had mixed, as well as some dyed rice and pieces of yarn. I added white paint to the paint to make it more opaque. And to color the rice, simply pour the white rice into a large ziplock baggie or Tupperware. Mix a few drops of food coloring or liquid watercolor and a few drops of white vinegar. Stir, stir, stir so that all the rice is coated. Then leave it on a tray lined with paper towel to dry overnight. I love the colored rice used, it adds a really fun texture and can be used in place of glitter.
7. This time I set up two stations with the same materials so every child could access. If I had more space and time, I would start with the paint first, then remove the toppers. But I only had half an hour for part two, so I covered everything right away.
8. Before the kids came inside, I drilled two holes and added wire. In retrospect, I would add the strings at the beginning next time.
9. I also used a hot glue gun in case some pieces weren’t glued properly a week ago. I secured everything before the kids arrived.
10. I casually suggested that the kids start with paint and then add other materials on top. Some children went back and forth, and some even traced the painting on the rice. Nothing was off limits!
11. Each collage was so unique that each child approached their design differently. As a teacher, there was not much for me to do except listen to their stories and get to know them. They were completely self-reliant and able to share materials, take turns, and enjoy the process. This is a wonderful age because they really still love the process and aren’t worried about a “product” or comparing themselves to others. I think this age group does the most creative work.
12. Some kids used a really generous amount of materials. Sometimes as adults we have to keep an open and flexible mindset. We may be tempted to jump in and say, OK, that’s enough. Because we are used to saving and being conscious of wastage. But it’s important that we keep our mouths shut and let the creative process unfold – that’s how we allow children to express themselves and build creative confidence!
13. These final pieces are so expressive, colorful, and exciting! Do you see how amazing process art is? And how important it is for kids to learn all those social emotional skills.
The school director hung her work and I loved how she used pink paper and white scalloped cardboard. This is a perfect exhibit for families to see their children’s amazing creations!
Did you like this post? Here are some more ideas for kids using recycled materials:
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