Let me say this is not the first center I open or introduce in my art room. Drawing is always first; then I open collage; then painting isn't too far behind collage because I like to give the students the option to use paint to add layers or textures to their collage. I also do a brief intro to the printmaking center that allows students to utilize various texture stamps, printing tools, and ink pads to also create textures for collages or paintings... and well, mixed-media artwork.
One of my favorite collage artists is Romare Bearden. I usually show the students examples in a PowerPoint of his collage work (below). We discuss how Bearden used many of his life experiences for his collage artwork. Here are a few examples of my favorite Bearden collages. Pittsburgh Memories is on the left - it holds a special place in my heart as I am originally from Pittsburgh, AND I used to work at the Carnegie Museum of Art where it resides.
Megan Coyle's Swordfish Collage Video
Art Journal Page with Magazine Cutouts
Deborah Shapiro Bird Collage
There are also a zillion more videos that show all kinds of mixed-media techniques (Printing, stenciling, painting, drawing, etc.) layered with the collage paper. I really want the kiddos to understand how to cut and layer paper... then this is where we talk about the paint and printmaking centers for layering.
So - Here are my menus/direction I currently use. Everything in the center is labeled, too, so kiddos can find and return materials. This is where scissors, glue, and glue sticks will live the rest of the year (even though I still have several kids asking me in February - "where are the scissors?" - Argh! Really? ....anyways...Back to the Menus....).
I do a little demonstration/review for classes using my document camera and gathering kids around tables to see the various options of collage and layering. We sometimes spend one class period creating painted paper swatches with various textures. What does that teach us? EXPERIMENTATION with.... color mixing, stamps/texture tools, layering, and sharing ideas and paper swatches with one another. If there are specific papers the kids know they want to use, they put their name on it and save in their portfolio folders... If they don't need it, we place it in a box for others to use.
Some kids take to collage - while others are not interested. I do not force anyone to try a center they are not ready to tackle for a project. Below are some student examples, and there are other examples in my Gallery tab of my blog.
So - what do some of these student collages look like? Check out the gallery below.