This multi-layered, multi-textured, mixed media collage was completed by my group of three and four years olds over three sessions of forty five minutes each. Combining lots of techniques and some useful scissor practise, this was an exciting project, particularly at its final stage when the children worked together to assemble all the elements, culminating in a really bold and striking work of art.
Session One: Painting Paper
The first job was to produce a selection of painted papers in blue and green which would later be transformed into waves and seaweed. I gave the children some mismatched off-cuts of paper left-over from earlier projects, and paint colours in a range of dark and light, blues and greens.
They used lots of different tools and techniques to create texture and patterns – dragging the paint with brushes, combs and texture tools, and printing with corks, bubble wrap and foam rollers.
Session Two: Slipper Fish
The children created their own tropical fish with a little bit of help from their slippers! The sole of a shoe makes an ideal template for drawing a fish. After drawing around one of their slippers to make a basic fish outline on cardboard, the children looked at some photos of different coral reef fish and then added fins and a tail to their drawings.
After they had been cut out, the cardboard fish were decorated with all sorts of paper scraps, including circles of tissue paper, sparkly wrapping paper with a mosaic design, and hole-punched strips of coloured paper. Eyes were made from milk carton lids of different sizes and colours.
Session Three: Putting it all together!
Before the session, I drew parallel undulating lines on the reverse of the blue painted papers. The children used scissors to cut carefully along the lines, producing a large pile of wavy strips. Then they moved onto the green painted papers, using ‘edge-craft’ scissors to cut long strands of seaweed with zig-zag and squiggly edges.
At last, it was time to assemble all the elements! I handed out the glue sticks and the children started to stick the blue wave shapes all over a long sheet of blue paper that I had stuck up on the wall.
Next, they took their own fish, and glued it on. The final element to be added was the seaweed. Rather than gluing it flat onto the picture surface, I encouraged the children to let it stick out from the surface to give a three-dimensional look. Some of the fish are even swimming in and out of the seaweed!
The result is a stunning, underwater scene, with a real sense of depth and movement. Not bad for an idea that emerged from the desire to find a use for some odd leftover sheets of green and blue paper, and a box full of miscellaneous scraps…