My Scrappy House Collage

In this lesson students will use scrapbook paper to work with color and pattern in order to create a cohesive composition for a torn paper collage.


Preparation & Materials

The materials for this project are very simple.  Scrapbook paper, glue, & a small amount of acrylic paint.  However, these simple materials are a little pricey, so it important that you follow the specifications to make sure there is enough material to go around to all students.  For each 2nd grade class the docent should gather (the paper will need to be removed from the scrapbook pads):

  • 20 pieces of 12×12 scrapbook paper – neutral color
  • 20 pieces of 12×12 scrapbook paper – warm color
  • 20 pieces of 12×12 scrapbook paper – cool color
  • 48 pieces of 8.5×11 scrapbook paper – varying pattern, texture, and scale – B&W
  • 30 pieces of 8.5×11 scrapbook paper – varying pattern, texture, and scale – color
  • 1 bottle each of white and black acrylic paint
  • 50 Q-tips
  • 25 salsa cups
  • glue sticks (check with teacher to see if they have in the class room)


Color Wheel - Primary Grades

Color Vocabulary

  • Neutral: Neutral usually means without color. Neutral colors such as beige, ivory, taupe, black, gray, and white appear to be without color.
  • Warm Colors:  Warm colors are vivid and energetic, and tend to advance in space.
  • Cool Colors: Cool colors give an impression of calm, and create a soothing feeling.

Working with Patterns to Create an Appealing Composition

What is composition?  In the visual artscomposition is the placement, arrangement, or organization of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art.

There are a few things to think about in order to create an appealing composition when working with and mixing patterns.  Look at the example below:

Pattern Collage Example

Scale:  Scale refers to the relative size of repeating elements. In the example above which pattern is small scale, which is large?

Texture:  When varying tones of the same color are used in a pattern we call them “tone on tone”.  The lack of contrast in tone on tone patterns suggest texture.  What part of the image above has a tone on tone or textural pattern.

Color Families:  In the piece above, the artist focuses on two color families.  Can you name them?  What neutrals did the artist use?

A Word About Scraps

DSC_5136A lot of scraps will be created with this project.  You might want to have a receptacle for each table group to manage scraps and keep them from going on the floor.  In my experience, there are two types of scraps:  flat scraps that can be saved and reused and curly/crunchy scraps that should be recycled.  For this project, the curly scraps can be used during the creative process, but please recycle what’s left when you are done.  Please save the flat scraps for other classes and projects.

What to Do:

  1. Have each student choose their paper.  When they are selecting their paper they should be thinking about color families, pattern, and texture:
    1. 2 pieces of 12×12 paper.  They should be one of the following combinations: warm + cool, warm + neutral, or cool + neutral.
    2. 3 pieces of 8.5×11 paper.  One should be a neutral and one should be a large scale pattern.  DSC_5134
  2. Choose the background from one of the 12×12 pieces.  Gently tear all four edges. Try not to tear more that half an inch into the paper.  Names should be written on the back of the background paper.
  3. Take the other 12×12 piece and rip off the bottom third.  Place it on the bottom edge of the background paper.  Reserve the remaining 2/3s for details.DSC_5137
  4. From the 8.5×11 pieces tear a square/rectangular piece for the house out of one and a shape to make a roof out of another.DSC_5139
  5. Glue these pieces down.
  6. With the last piece of paper, tear out details:  doors, windows, chimneys, flowers, trees, pets, etc.  Students can also use their own or their neighbor’s scraps for details.  Once they are arranged, glue them down.
  7. DSC_5146While students are arranging their collages, the docent should be preparing the acrylic paint cups.  Squirt just enough paint to cover the bottom of the salsa cup.  Two students can share a set of black and white paint.
  8. Define:  Carefully, using the QTip, draw lines and make dots to define the shapes.  On lighter color compositions use mostly black, on darker color compositions, use mostly white.  Be very careful not to overwork the project with too many details.

For the Gallery

After the projects are done they will need to be prepared for display.  Cut a 12×15 piece of colored construction paper to complement each student’s artwork.  (Save the left over–you’ll need it for the paper weaving project in May.)  Ask your teacher for labels with each student’s name and the teacher’s name (they usually have them for displaying work in the class).  If they don’t have labels, use a fine tip black marker to write the names on the construction paper. You’ll want to mount each art piece on the paper, centering it width-wise, but leaving about three inches at the bottom for the student’s name/label.  Samples are in the TAP Room.



4 thoughts on “My Scrappy House Collage

  1. Really cute project….lots of scraps, some kids tore small holes into the center of papers which was wasteful. I would encourage using the scraps that I left in the tap room, I would hate to see all that paper go to waste. Also, no 2 houses looked the same, some did streams instead of grass. I would suggest that the house not be centered on the 12X12 paper so there is room for the other stuff (like the examples are). This project is a keeper!

  2. Beyond the Great Mountains by Ed Young is a picture book using torn paper collage. It can be found at the Camarillo Library. (J PB) It is a very short and easy read. The illustrations are torn paper which combine ancient Chinese characters (Circa 500 BC) and landscapes.

    I modeled for the students slow, deliberate, tearing. It is important to keep one’s fingers near the tear line to control its direction. I also modeled fast tearing with the fingers further away from the tear line and how this lead to lack of tear control.

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