Collage Background Information for Teachers and Parents

Grade Levels: K-3

This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about the art of collage.  The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Collage. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.

Help children explore and interpret art and encourage them to create their own works using what they have learned. This movie will explore the art of collage, introducing different forms and identifying a few key artists who have utilized collage. It will also explore how symbols, colors, and textures are used in collage to communicate ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

Review with children that a collage is an artwork created by joining different materials together. The word collage comes from the French word coller which means “to glue.” We can create collages by attaching different pieces of paper, such as newsprint or magazines, to a canvas. We can use stamps and stickers, wood or parts of plants, fabric, or even found objects in a collage, and we can also draw or paint to add to a work. Help children understand that they can pretty much use anything in a collage. Some children may be familiar with scrapbooks, which are types of collage. Look at different collages together and analyze their elements. You may want to share the works of Kurt Schwitters, who incorporated bits of debris in his art.

Many children’s book illustrators incorporate collage into their works. For example, the collages in books by Eric Carle and Ezra Jack Keats bring the stories to life. They mix paper of different colors, shapes, sizes, and patterns. You may want to screen our movie on Ezra Jack Keats for an extension. You may also want to compare and contrast collages by different illustrators. How are they alike or different? What materials were used? What mood or feeling do the illustrations communicate?

There are several forms of collage: encourage children to explore different types. A photomontage is a collage made out of photos. Explain that the photos together can be more powerful than each photo displayed alone, and help children understand how a photomontage can communicate an idea or feeling. A wood collage can explore texture, shape, and color, and it can easily be done in the classroom or at home using found scraps of wood or plant matter. A film collage is created by mixing parts of movies, such as feature-length films, commercials, or found or archival footage. A sound collage is created by mixing sounds and clips of songs. Some children may recognize that hip-hop music is a form of sound collage.

Help children understand that collages communicate feelings or ideas through symbols. Review different symbols together. For example, a heart is a symbol of love and a four-leaf clover is a symbol of good luck. Items or materials used in a collage can be symbols of an idea.. Explore different collages together and identify various symbols used in the work.

The use of color and shape can also communicate feelings. French artist Henri Matisse cut out paper of various colors to create collages that communicate a wide range of emotions. In his Jazz series, he used bright colors and shapes to communicate the playfulness of music. Bright colors communicate joy while wavy lines communicate energy or improvisation.

As children create their collages, encourage them to think about the elements they incorporate into their works. Have them explore different shapes, colors, and textures and juxtapose objects that seemingly do not go together. Have them think of a clear idea they want to communicate and create a work that shares that idea.