Tag Archives: collage

Martina Nehrling



For as long as I have been teaching art, I have been going to art shows, gallery openings, and museums as well as taking classes.  I think that if I want my students to be life long learners, I need to be one myself.


I love to look at gallery sites and find things that might inspire me or my students to create something fun. That is how I found this artist.


I came across an article about Martina Nehberg on the Markel Fine Arts blog.  Her art is colorful and fun and my students loved seeing her work and the pictures of her studio especially when it included her dogs.


We used scraps from our box of colorful paper strips. It was a great lesson for my 1-2 combo class to practice cutting and gluing skills while creating amazing works of art.






I have a wonderful opportunity to teach weekly art to a group of students. These ponds were done at the request of a teacher to go with their grade levels pond unit.

These students get art with me for about 30 minutes each week. I started by telling the kindergartners about Monet and his water lily paintings. They created theirs using oil pastel and water soluble markers which they painted with water.


The next week, we made the green backgrounds. We talked about texture. I gave them green, yellow, and blue paint, forks, and my infamous paint daubers (sponges clipped to a clothespin).

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The week after that, they cut the ponds into a “pond shape” and glued them on the background and added cattails and dragonflies.

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The last week, we added butterflies and frogs. I think they came out just stunning and will be great for their open house celebration.

Kumeyaay Ollas



The third grade learns about the history of our community. Part of that history includes the Native American tribes that lived here before anyone else.


They often take a field trip to the Kumeyaay Interpretive center and see a replica of an Ewaa, grind acorns, paint rocks and learn about the tools, food, lifestyle and culture of these people.


To complement the study of the Kumeyaay, students created these paper pots. We looked at images of Kumeyaay pottery, learned how it was made and then cut out our ollas from paper. I do not have a kiln, so we cannot easily do clay lessons.


We also looked at images of petroglyphs and petrographs from our county. We learned that most of the Kumeyaay pottery was not decorated but did have fire clouds from the Raku firing process they used. We also learned that Kumeyaay pottery is still being made today.


I allowed the students to use images from pictographs and petroglyphs to add more color to their pottery if they chose to. They glued their finished pots onto simple backgrounds when complete.

Collaged Cupcakes



I met the other elementary art teacher from our district at the San Diego Museum of Art. Four of her students had this cupcake lesson chosen for the Young Art 2017: Beyond the Ordinary Exhibition. She mounted them on colored paper squares and grouped them together.


I think her students were grade three, I did this with my First Graders.



I thought it was a great way to use up some of the magazine donations and scrap paper we have accumulated.


I had my students color the background with oil pastel. I don’t typically use colored paper because it is difficult to estimate how much I need from year to year.






Collage Bees


The kindergarten students study insects and they often have a beekeeper come and share what it is like to be a beekeeper and how we get honey. 55282272

He brings in the clothes, tools, pictures, empty hives, and honey. It really is fun for the students.


I did a project last year on black paper. This year, we did it on white.


They had a lot of fun collaging their bees and creating a background. As always, we did this in 30 minutes!


I think they are just so cute and have loads of personality.


Sail Boat Collage



My K/1 Combo class did this lesson. They painted the background first doing the sky white then adding blue, they then painted the ocean with blue, green, and white. We did not rinse between colors so that was one less clean up step. I had them wipe their brushes on scrap paper or their placemats.


While that was drying, I showed them our “magic square” trick. A square can be cut into 2 triangles or 2 rectangles.


They then made boats with the squares of painted paper. I often use my old demo lessons chopped up for things like this. I also have some art room helpers who will take the paint leftovers from a paint day and paint on “oops” papers.


That paper is made by my upper grade student helpers. While I am pretty conservative in pouring paint, there is always a bit of leftover paint on the supply plates and it is a good way to use that up. (Reduce, reuse recycle: it’s good for the budget)


They then cut and assembled the boats however they wanted to.


Collage Birds



Years ago I saw some collaged cardboard birds. After my best friend died, her kids and mine did a grief group each week with activities from the Dougy Center. This activity wasn’t from there but I loved the idea of 3D birds and the kids and I liked doing art together. We made the “word birds” below.


For that project, we put a word about what we needed on one side and what we loved about ourselves on the other. My thought was they could put the bird in their room in a place people could see it like on their dresser or desk and when they needed some extra TLC, they put that side out facing the world. When they were doing okay, the side of what they liked about themselves showed.


This year after getting a giant box of cardboard packing triangles, oodles of paper strips and having loads of scrap paper, I had my students do these birds.


They are really colorful. For the feathers, we used edger scissors  that cut interesting patterns as you cut. Kids LOVE using those scissors and I have a lot of them as they were given to my own kids over the years.


If the students wanted to, they could add words when they were finished but many did not.


I had them fold card stock in half, draw a bird shape, collage both sides and glue them together.I did this in a step by step fashion after the first group struggled a bit.


I learned with the first group that several of them collaged the same side and then the bird would not go together. So for the next group, I had them cut out the birds, have them lay them flat then have them “kiss” or touch tails and draw an “X” on each side that was facing up.


This helped prevent them from collaging the wrong side. I showed them how to glue the beaks and tail feathers on one side so that it would sandwich between when the project was complete. Most of them understood that part, some did not.


They were instructed to decorated all sides of the triangle and leave the bottom of the bird open. They brought them to me and I stapled the triangle feet for them.




Alma Thomas Collage


“Through color, I have sought to concentrate on beauty and happiness, rather than on man’s inhumanity to man.”



Last year, I did Alma Thomas paintings with my Kindergarten students. They used my home made sponge brushes.


This year, I have TONS of scrap paper. I put the scraps in several shallow bins on each table.


I figure my second graders would enjoy some collage so we looked at the work of Alma Thomas and they came up with these. I told them they could copy the artist or do their own thing.


We barely make a dent in the scrap paper.


Collaged Hearts



In the teacher workroom is a box that says, “Art Scraps”. A few years ago, a recycling minded parent created the box for us. Teachers and parents put all the construction paper and other paper scraps from projects in the box. For this project, we used some of those scraps.


Students in my 1/2 combo class were given heart templates to trace. They then filled the hearts with scraps of paper.


I used cups of white glue mixed with water and some sponge brushes that were donated. They traced the heart templates with our black Staonal Crayons. They used scissors or tearing to make the pieces of paper smaller.


Because they came out so nice, I did the lesson again with my K/1 group.


For them I pre-traced the hearts to save time. There is only one class of this combo and it is small. They actually ended up having time to cut the hearts out and glue them onto black paper. I think it is always good for students to have extra scissor practice and the black background really makes the hearts stand out.


Art Room Tips #1


20170131_101317.jpgWhen I first started at my school, we qualified for Title 1 funding. I felt it was important to make my budget stretch as far as it could and reached out for donations. I asked for things people were discarding or recycling. Silk flowers, old markers, crayons, card stock, wrapping paper, craft items. I even had a couple of donations of paper from local printers. These donations have been the springboard for many art projects over the years.

I now teach almost a thousand students. We are no longer a Title 1 school and we have a larger budget for art. I still like to be conservative with my supplies. I still use recycled or donated items and do my best to be considerate of all the fundraising our parents do to keep art at our site.

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The water cups we use are donated as are the plates they sit in. One of my favorite items to use is the lean cuisine trays. They are the perfect size for a water cup and a half a sponge. They also stack nicely. The sponges were purchased from the 99 cent store and cut in half. Students share this set up when painting.


For tempera paint, we use paper plates. I used to use recycled lean cuisine plates but California is often in a drought and it seems better to throw away a plate than use the copious amounts of water needed for washing. I use the same plates for several days or until they become really messy .


Students share one plate. I call it the “supply plate”. If they are mixing colors, they do it directly on their papers or in a plastic lid like those from a yogurt cup. I also use those plastic lids for glue for my pre-K to K friends.


It saves us from using too much glue and they get some much needed eye-hand coordination in the process. Most of them don’t mind and find it fun to peel off the dried glue.


This my set up is for liquid watercolors. We use them periodically. I like them for the bright colors. I put a few drops of liquid watercolor in the plastic souffle cup and add water. I store the lidded cups in a box I picked up from Costco. It fits perfectly in my cupboard and is fairly shallow. The nice thing about the cardboard box is that is absorbs watercolor that may be on the bottom of the cups and the best part is it was free.


For lessons with PreK, I often give each pair 2 cool colors then I swap them with their neighbor for 2 warm colors. Three of those little cups will fit in the tray so for older students. I use three warm colors and three cool colors. The little trays have saved us from big spills many times.


The black papers are our placemats. Years ago, our admin ordered paper that was much larger than a teacher needed and passed it off to me. I needed something to cover the tables and these were perfect.

My youngest students do not usually get water and sponge plates for tempera. I have them wipe their brush on the placemats between colors. This process works for many reasons-brighter colors, less time making “strawberry water” and “milk water” and more time actually painting, it eliminates water spills as well.

I use the same placemat papers for much of the year until they are overly covered in stuff or are bumpy or torn. When they get to that point, I chop it up for collage or paper making.