I have a little stash of “emergency” projects I keep in a list on my phone for situations that call for some kid entertainment STAT. The criteria for my 911 list are that the activity requires only 1 or 2 supplies, be mess-free & simple but engaging for any kid. These mini compositions are one of my favorites because, not only do they meet all the criteria, they offer endless options for art exploration and kids can do variations on this for-ev-er. I mean, for-ev-ER.
Honestly, I have *literally* torn up sugar packets and ripped a hole in a paper napkin to do iterations of this at restaurants and movie theaters – NEVER fails to entertain (at least long enough to change the mood or provide a bit of a quiet calm-down). Take my word for it – this one’s a keeper.
For another quick variation on this lesson in composition, try our incredibly simple color exploration grid exercise or take it one step further by creating a beautiful collection of torn paper landscapes.
To make your own scrap paper collages you’ll need:
- Pieces of scrap paper
- An 8.5 x 11 piece of paper (or similar size – I think black or white works best)
- Scissors or an X-Acto Knife
- A clear transparency sheet
- A dry-erase marker
Quick Scrap Paper Collage Instructions:
- Cut a large square window out of a piece of paper
Cut a square out of the center of your large piece of paper to make a “viewfinder” window.
- Layer scrap paper bits
Let kids arrange the scrap bits – or – just toss them up into the air and onto a flat surface (this seems to be the favored choice around here).
- Use the viewfinder to find different compositions
Move the viewfinder around to look for different cool compositions.
- Draw a simple pattern or shape onto a transparency sheet
Draw a simple pattern or shape/s onto your transparency. Slip it under your viewfinder (you can secure it to the paper with a couple of bits of tape if necessary) and move it around the paper again.
- Photograph your compositions as you move things around
Instead of gluing the paper bits down or trying to create finished pieces of artwork, I prefer just keeping it fast and loose. One of the great lessons in this project is the idea that art doesn’t have to be permanent. There are no mistakes or forevers with this one – it’s just play! Another fun option is to take pictures of each composition then collage them (I use the Layout App on my phone).
It’s a fun way to remember what was created, and there’s always a bit of a “wow” factor when they’re all seen together. Honestly, these are just as fun for adults as kids – and a good reminder that an artist lies within us all! 🙂
A Helpful Hint For Kids Who Are Just not into It…
It happens. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, they are just NOT going to get into it. When this occurs (or in rare circumstances when everyone just desperately needs a giggle) I turn to my super-secret, “move it….move it….move it….FREEZE!” tactic. You can use it when kids are drawing, or making a sculpture or WHEN. EVER. But it works especially well for this project. Instead of presenting it as an art activity, make it into a game – kids move the square around over the paper until you yell, “FREEZE!” I think of it as short-term entertainment that’s a long-term win. Plus…it’s really fun to yell, “move it….move it…move it….FREEEZE!” 🙂