I’ve always loved making collages, but I got re-inspired by the idea after looking at ideas for “busy boxes.” A friend suggested a “busy box swap” where each mom in the group made 1-2 kinds of boxes for each child—and everyone goes home with a kit full of projects. I saw an idea for a collage busy box and started thinking about all the different types of collage kits I could make for my daughter. This seemed like a great way to make use of old magazines and catalogs (as well as those old 2012 calendars) and to use up remnants from other craft and sewing projects. Since collages are by nature free form and mixed-media, they lend themselves to children’s artwork; all you really need is a glue stick and a dream.
Here are some of my favorite ideas so far:
1. Bringing the Outdoors In
Collect outdoor things like stones, acorn caps, leaves, and sticks, and extend their lifespan by creating an outdoor scene on an indoor kind of day.
2. That Looks Delicious
We started with a “pastry shop” made from an old calendar. I cut out the small inlaid images from the back of the calendar and parts of the larger monthly images. My daughter matched them up, arranged them in her “shop,” and used the small pictures as “tickets” for us to buy her baked goods. When she tires of this game, the pastry shop can live on as a collage, and this style can work with grocery circulars, catalogs, and all kinds of food themes.
3. Dream House
I once bought a piece of furniture that was delivered to my home, and now several times a month I get a company catalog. Usually I just drool over it and then recycle it, but next time I’m going to cut the outline of a house on a large piece of cardstock and help my daughter furnish it with our favorite finds from the catalog.
4. One Scanner, No Glue
A friend of mine introduced us to the scanner collage, where you arrange items on top of the scanner and then print out the image (or just look at the file on screen). This one is glue-free, so it works great for items that you don’t want to destroy, and the imaging creates interesting textures and shadows that add dimension to the printout. My elder daughter and I love doing this one with my jewelry—so many shapes and colors with lots of creative draping.
5. Ransom Note
Find letters in various shapes, styles, and fonts to reinforce letter-learning (upper and lowercase) as well make a beautiful alphabet arrangement. Real words are optional.
6. Collages with Character(s)
7. Modern and Monochromatic
Emphasize color shades and variations by collecting items that all fit in the same hue-family and pasting them onto the page. This style also lends itself to mixed-media and multi-textural items (fabric, buttons, ribbons, papers, foil, etc.)
8. Mapmaker, Mapmaker
I love maps as art and artifacts, and collage lends itself to the concepts of cartography. Use images to create a souvenir (with postcards and pictures of a particular place) or make an actual map (with landmarks and landscaping details to navigate).