My young students constructed this art wall from recycled materials, and then they mixed all of their own colors and painted it!! Kids are so capable.
It’s no wonder that everything my students design and create makes me want to open a children’s art museum. Can you imagine how cool that would me? Artists from around the world could come and get inspired by young minds. Children are so creative because they don’t feel any constraints on their imagination. Especially during such a rich, process-art experience like this one. There is nobody telling them what things should look like, they have no vision in their heads – or if they do, they are flexible and fluid in their execution – they are purely creating and making from their instincts and their heart.
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Supply list for recycled art wall
~ Anything and everything cardboard! Egg cartons, toilet rolls, paper towel rolls, packaging, milk cartons, berry containers, cardboard scraps, corks, craft sticks
~ A giant piece of cardboard
~ Glue gun (I buy the low-temp to curb burned fingers)
~ Jars and bowls for mixing
Sequence for making a recycled art wall
~ After gathering my supplies, I moved the table out of the way and put all of the materials on the floor. I only had four glue guns for six kids so that was a little challenging. I would suggest each child get their own because they are working non-stop. Alternatively, you can use regular white glue (or Gorilla Glue for wood which dries faster) but then let the whole structure dry overnight before hanging on the wall.
~ Once they finished gluing everything onto the big piece of cardboard, I used a piece of clear packing tape in each corner to stick it to the wall. (When I took it down, the packing tape did not take the paint off the wall, just as an FYI. Just pull slowly. Can’t gaurantee that it won’t happen, but it didn’t for me!)
~ I had put out paints, jars and bowls, and mixing sticks on the table. I told the kids they could mix their own colors and then paint their assemblage piece. Mixing paints is the NUMBER ONE favorite thing for my art students. They could do it every day, all day!
~ There were a lot of browns and grays mixed, which is usually what happens with little kids. But the older ones were able to stop themselves when they got to a color they liked, so the paints really did have a nice range of color this time. I did have to prompt them to stop mixing and start painting. We only had an hour to do this so I had to move them along. Next time I will do this project in art camp which is three hours rather than art class which is just one hour.
[ Try this other recycled art favorite: Shoebox Mansion ]
~ I saved their paints in jars until next class. They didn’t finish and wanted to keep painting. They named all the colors, too! I kept a record of that which is always fun to do, and exciting to look back on.
~ The next week the girls came to class in these gorgeous dresses. I was like, huh?? You do know they are painting in art class? Turns out they had picture day in school, and nobody wanted to change. It’s a good thing these paints were washable!
So far I have called this a structure, a collage, and an assemblage piece. I had a hard time figuring out what to call it! I think the most accurate description would be that this is art assemblage. It’s similar to collage but uses more 3-dimensional materials that stick out from the base. Either way, it’s an incredible collaborative art invitation that fully engaged the children for two classes (2 hours).
To expand this project, the children could continue to glue on materials after it goes up on the wall. The materials would have to be smaller and lighter so that gravity didn’t pull them down. Also, you could put out collage material for the kids to use after painting – like tissue paper, cut up art, pom-poms, feathers, etc. Or paint it all one color, as an ode to Louise Nevelson! So many ways to extend this process-art experience.
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Did you like this post? Here are some more collaborative art projects with kids: