Activity: Collages in the Style of Eric Carle

Activity: Collages in the Style of Eric Carle (Colour and Texture)

Instructions for Collages in the style of Eric Carle (from Kathleen S)

This activity takes 2 sessions. Time needed will depend on the ages of the students. Younger students will need more time to clean up from the finger painting and older students will need more time for intricate cutting and tearing in making their collages.

Part 1: Finger Painting & Sensory Preferences

Session 1 – Exploring texture and colour

Materials needed: finger paint – see colour discussion below, finger painting paper available at the dollar store and cleaning materials

Depending on the colour concepts taught in each grade’s curriculum, the finger painting colours can be modified for this exercise, for example, grade 1 and 2’s will benefit from mixing only 2 primary colours at each centre to discover their secondary outcome. Grade 3’s might divide the colours between warm and cool while grade 4’s experiment with monochromatic colours. Young students will enjoy using fingers (but provide gloves for the visual learners) while grade 5’s may wish to try using forks and other tools to scratch into the paint, or to paint with fingers on one piece and to a monoprint of it by pressing a second piece on top and pulling it off to make a print. Tell students they will be making paper to use on special collages next class. They should do at least one of the prescribed tasks that they will be sharing with colleagues. If time, they may do others in any way they choose.

Today’s finger paint washes off tables easily, but go over the instructions before students begin. They will print their names on one side of the finger painting paper in crayon or some other non-water soluble tool. If one side is less shiny, use it. Tape 2 corners of the paper to the table with masking tape. Demonstrate placing (only) one teaspoon of each colour on far sides of the paper. Use both hands to move the paint towards the centre where it will be mixed. Press firmly with hands to make white marks where the paper shows through the paint. This will show the texture up better when the paper is dry. Try creating different swirls and textures with your fingers. Since these will be used as textures emphasize that the students should not make drawings in their initial pieces, but if they choose to do extra, they may experiment in any way they choose. When done, remove to the drying rack or plastic table cloths to dry. Wash hands. Wipe the table with paper towel before washing. Most of the paint will come off this way. Finish by wiping with a damp cloth.

Four stations for the four sensory preferences (this is a form of differentiated instruction):

  1. Finger painting using just fingers and set up next to the computer with music going (auditory preference)
  2. Painting with tools like sponges, brushes and gloves (visual preference)
  3. Finger painting at a table with no chairs – lots of space for students to stand up / move around (kinesthetic preferences)
  4. Finger painting on the table (the teacher creates a frame with green painters tape that the students can create their designs within). Once the student is finished finger painting on the table, they press a piece of paper down over the paint to transfer the textures onto the paper. Don’t forget to clean up table after! (tactual preference)

* I need to do some thinking around what grades I would use this in and how it might be modified for older students.

I chose to go to the tactual learners’ station. Here are my two finger paint pieces:

fingerpaint fingerpaint2

Part 2: Finding an image or design in the textures

Materials: construction paper in a variety of sizes and colours, Glue, scissors

Have students collect their finger paintings and put away the extra pieces that they choose to keep. Students will divide the remaining pieces in ½ to share with colleagues so everyone ends up with lots of textures and colours. It is important to tell students on day 1 that this is going to happen to avoid upsets. Place one half in the centre of the table. Keep the other half. The next task is to find shapes in your own or in the extra pieces on the table. With a partner, find many different ideas, as if you are looking for pictures in the clouds. Share some with the class. Choose one to cut out. If you like this, choose a piece of construction paper and begin to build an image or a design around your initial piece (you can choose the colour). The construction paper size and shape can also be modified. Lay most of the pieces out on the paper before you begin to glue them down. Pieces can be torn or cut.


When we did this activity in class we had a second opportunity to play with the background the class after we created these works. Some people added a second construction paper behind their work to add a second background (that is my green one above). Then we all put our work up on a couple of standing bulletin boards and it was neat to see everyone’s work displayed together.

Nonjudgmental critique (Reflect/Assess): At the end of class or the start of the next class, conduct a nonjudgmental critique by placing volunteer’s work on the table. Have students gather around and look first for interesting textures (they could be done by that artist or one of their table-mates). Don’t name the artist or just concentrate on pieces that are successful as finished work. Now look for interesting ideas – again the resolution is not judged. Now look for one or two pieces that the students think are very successful overall. Emphasize with the students that there is not time to discuss the merits of everyone’s work in the critique – it is merely a learning session to take away more good ideas as a community of learners. The teacher will place comments on sticky notes on the back of each piece when it is handed in.