I've had this idea stewing around in my head for some time now, and I finally got a chance to try it out. Emmett can sometimes be hard to rope into craft projects because he gets frustrated easily if things are too hard or finicky. But this project includes some super kid friendly tasks, even preschool friendly, like paper snipping and glue sticking. It also includes some things that an adult or older child will need to do too, so it is a great group project.
Here is what you will need:
1) Some large thin white paper, like children's easel paper, or butcher paper
2) Various papers to make up the body of your collage, such as wrapping paper, decorative paper, scrapbooking paper, or whatever you choose.
3) Something to mount your collage on, such as this wooden art board, poster board, foam board, or whatever you have access too. (click on the link above to see where mine came from)
4) Something to use as your background, if you want one. I used book pages, but you could paint the background, or use whatever appeals to you.
4) A pencil
6) Kids scissors
7) Good grown up scissors, or an exacto knife and cutting mat.
The first step is to get the kid or kids snipping paper into small pieces into a bowl. I found that Emmett had an easier time with this if I first cut the papers into long strips for him, and then he could easily snip them into something like squares. There is no need for them to be a uniform size or shape.
And while he was busy snipping I pulled up some images of whales on Google images to use as a basis for our whale shape. In hindsight it would have been a better idea to do this in advance. Especially if you will be working with more than one kid. Emmett and I together decided that the image below both appealed to him and fit well on the mounting board we had on hand.
So I sketched out the outline of this humpback whale on a piece of paper I snagged from Emmett's easel. The paper (and the outline drawing) must be the size of the design you will want to end up with on your final collage. You want the drawing to be as detailed as you can, although the outline is all you need, so you don't end up with an unrecognizable blob, so pay attention to the silhouette and make sure it is clearly the animal you are trying to make.
Then you want to flip the paper over and make a more vague outline that surrounds your whole design. This is the side you will glue the paper scraps too, and you want to make sure that they will cover every inch of the design on the other side. This sounds really confusing, and is a little hard to describe, but it is very easy to do. The next photo will hopefully give you a better idea what I am saying.
See how the outer line is less detailed but contains the whole more detailed silhouette within its borders? That's what you want. Now you are ready to start gluing, and hopefully the kiddos have lots of snipped paper scraps in their bowl.
Make sure you have the larger, more amorphous side up, and let your little gluers get to work. They can work as methodically or as willy nilly as they want, it will look cool either way. I have some of the purple glue sticks which are great for kids because they can see where they have put the glue, and yet it still dries clear.
And just keep adding and adding paper scraps until you cover up all of the white paper up to the edges of your pencil border. It's ok if there are overlapping papers, in fact, there will need to be, so don't worry too much about lining anything up. Emmett got a little bored before all of the last little bits of white were covered, so I finished it up for him by filling in all of the tiny remaining gaps and then adding more glue to any of the scraps that weren't securely glued.
When this stage is all done it will look like this. (above)
Once the glue has dried, or mostly dried, you flip over your paper, revealing the more exact drawing on the flip side, and get ready to cut it out, either with good sharp scissors or an exacto knife and cutting mat. Cut slowly, being sure to cut through all of the layers of glued paper scraps.
And now the fun part! You flip it over and see the mosaic pattern animal silhouette with nice clean edges:
And now for the background.
I could have just given Emmett a whole bunch of blue paints and let him go at it on the wood panel. That would have probably looked really cool too.
But since Emmett's attention was waning, and book pages are kind of my thing, and I knew I happened to have some pages from an old copy of The Old Man and the Sea lying around, I decided to go that way instead.
Now just slather the back of your whale (or other animal) with glue stick, flip it over and place it on your background and press down all the edges firmly.
The wood panel I used was from Dick Blick, and they come in loads of sizes. The added bonus of using a wood panel is that you can attach a picture hanger right on the back of it and you don't have to worry about either finding a frame, or figuring out how you are going to get it to hang on the wall.
And you're done! Emmett is 4, so by the end of this project I was pretty much working on it alone. And this is also a pretty big piece. But I bet with 7 or 8 year olds they would be able to see it through all the way to the end, as well as be able to take on a lot of the aspects that I did, like the background and cutting out the final silhouette.