Need some inspiration and new ideas for a children’s collage activity at home or at school?
Perhaps you’re limiting yourself by defaulting to the same types of paper and materials when there are so many fun options, many of which are free collage materials.
Scroll down for a complete list of collage materials, including:
- Types of paper
- Fabrics and materials
- Natural objects
- Food items
- Other objects
- Collage bases
- Glue for collaging
Collaging is a wonderful activity for children and a great form of process art – art that is focused on the process of doing, rather than the final result.
Children learn how colours, shapes and textures look when arranged together, and they develop an appreciation of design. They express themselves through these three-dimensional creations.
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Where do you get the best materials for collage? Find them in the garden, in your food cupboard, among your art supplies, online, in your box of beads, buttons, and leftover scraps of materials, and anywhere else you can think of.
Get creative and you won’t need to buy many collage supplies. It’s best to collect them over time so you don’t throw out something that can be used for a future collage project.
When doing a collage with children, offer a choice of materials, separated into baskets or containers. These can either all form part of a theme, such as ‘the beach’ or be randomly selected.
Encourage kids to think of what colours go well together, or what would contrast and look good. They can change the form of materials as they see fit – by scrunching, cutting or shaping them.
Paper Collage Materials
Here are a variety of types of paper to offer kids:
- Printer paper
- Tissue paper
- Facial tissues
- Baking paper
- Coloured cardboard
- Small cardboard boxes (like cereal boxes)
- Corrugated card
- Used gift-wrapping paper
- Brown paper
- Paper bags
- Old business cards
- Shiny paper
- Wax paper
- Lick and stick paper
- Greeting cards
Fabrics and Materials
Offer scraps of various types of fabrics and materials, such as
- Leather scraps
- Scraps of rugs and carpets
- Material scraps and trimmings
- Pipe cleaners
- Coloured wire
- Tin foil
- Cotton balls
- Polystyrene packaging – crumpled or in pieces
Natural Collage Materials
The outdoors can be one of the best places to find materials for your collages. It gives kids a chance to appreciate and explore nature, especially if you involve them in collecting the items.
Here are just a few objects mother nature provides:
- Small stones or pebbles
- Sand (garden or beach)
- Tree bark
- Wood chips/shavings
- Pine cones
While you may want to offer a variety of objects, you can also work with one type of object or material.
For example, a leaf collage using only different colours and shapes of leaves can be a beautiful creation.
Food Collage Materials
Raid your kitchen cupboards and you are bound to find many edible items that work great as collage materials.
Just beware of offering items that are tempting to eat, especially to younger children. You don’t want your 2-year-old eating popcorn with glue right off the picture.
Offer items like:
- Crushed eggshells
- Cous Cous
- Rock salt/coarse salt – put this on the page to look like snow
- Pasta tubes
Make use of other objects that you have around the house, some of which are waste materials that you can recycle for art.
There are also some art supplies you can purchase, like this set:
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Here are a few ideas:
- Bottle tops
- Coloured beads
- Small tiles
- Googly eyes
- Ice-cream sticks
A collage base should be firm enough to hold the items as well as the glue. For heavier items and liquid glue, a firmer base is better, whereas paper works fine for a paper and glue stick collage.
Here are some options to use as a base:
- Construction paper
- Large pieces of tree bark
- Pieces of wood
- Polystyrene trays
When it comes to gluing the items, there are a few options and it depends on several factors – what type of items you are pasting, what base you are sticking them to, and the age of the kids handling the glue.
There are different types of glue, such as:
- Glue sticks (these are the easiest for toddlers to handle)
- A glue made from a mixture of flour and water, pasted on with paintbrushes
- Mod Podge (great for sealing art)
SaleMod Podge CS11301 Waterbase Sealer, Glue and Finish, 8 Oz, Matte
- CONVENIENT & VERSATILE SIZE – Add this multi-purpose, all-in-one glue, sealer, and finish in a 8 oz size to...
- STUNNING, DURABLE FINISH – This handy decoupage glue comes in a beautiful clear, matte finish to preserve...
- White liquid craft glue in bottles
SaleElmer's Clear Liquid School Glue, Slime Glue, & Craft Glue, Large 1 Quart for School...
- Make batches of clear slime that you can customize with color
- Safe, washable and nontoxic formula
The best glue for sticking all kinds of materials is liquid white glue. If the kids use them in squeeze bottles, they can get clogged so they must be cleaned regularly.
A good option is to offer some glue in a container with a paintbrush and teach kids to spread the glue onto the page. Some objects can be dipped into the glue, and then pasted on the page.
Make sure to clean up white glue immediately with hot water as it is easy to clean when wet, but much harder if it dries.
I hope you’ve found these ideas helpful. It’s important to just embrace the mess when doing these kinds of messy activities. The fact that kids are learning so much makes it worth it.
“Total Learning: Developmental Curriculum for the Young Child”, written by Joanne Hendrick.
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