The process of making something handmade is rare for children these days, but when encouraged to do so they gain valuable life skills such as planning, making decisions and solving problems. It would be ideal to make a workshop area that is accessible to the child at all times. As he gets an idea, this workshop can offer him a chance to transform his idea into material reality. This is satisfying for him and sets up a habit that boosts his enthusiasm for invention.
It goes beyond our idea of collage but includes the concept of pasting. Also, both 2D art and 3D expressions are possible. He can produce many various items in such a workshop. A vehicle, a kite, a city, a shop, a puppet theatre, a target, a pair of binoculars, a castle, a crown, a guitar, a dolls bed, etc.
Collage can begin as a pleasant arrangement of materials of different textures and patterns on a flat surface. Initially, it’s best to show the skills needed separately.
How To Glue – It’s good to present this skill to the child as a lesson.
- Glue – hobby glue, PVA glue, or paste made with flour and water.
- A small short-handled glue brush.
- A small glass jar that doesn’t tip easily.
- Sheet of paper or card.
- Scraps of paper.
- Place a small amount of glue in a jar, enough to cover the bottom. The glue must be suitable for the task.
- Apply a small amount of glue with the brush.
- Then place the brush back in the jar.
- Hold the material in place by pressing down with two fingers.
Tearing Paper is a skill of it’s own. The beginner starts with torn pieces of paper. He can tear the paper into any size or shape he wishes.
The child’s interest is in choosing the coloured papers and the pleasure of sticking them on with the paste. At first it can be rather messy, especially when the child superimposes one piece of paper on another – or even five or six! But some children place their pieces carefully side by side or arranged in places without touching each other.
After some time, you can offer scraps of material cut into irregular pieces and sizes. These should differ greatly in texture from hessian to velvet, cottons and linens. Encourage the child to FEEL the material and note the differences.
Decorations – There are many celebrations throughout the year, and on these occasions you can give him some extra gay streamers with silver and gold. The children assemble the decorations and you can hang them from the ceiling or pinned to the wall. Making their own decorations delights children.
Ingenuity and skill develops through the incentive of collage. As the children acquire more skills add different materials to the workshop shelves. Keep a keen eye for any materials that would suit the completion of a project, whether it is the necessary piece of a submarine or the tail for an animal etc. Put these items within their grasp but with no pressure to use them. You will feel your way towards the stage when the children are ready for more variety.
A 4yo is beginning to use scissors and you can demonstrate this skill separately.
The easiest way to start cutting with scissors is to do snipping on a piece of card cut into strips. The point of interest is snipping on a line drawn in regular intervals along the strip.
The 5yo can attempt to cut all sorts of material with the scissors. As children become more experienced with the tools and the materials they venture into making 3D models and want to stand things up.
The materials should be well sorted and arranged on shelves low enough to be seen and reached by the children.
Shallow boxes are suitable for holding various materials.
- Natural Materials – feathers, raw wool, fur, leather, straw, nuts, seeds, bark, pebbles, wood offcuts, cork.
- Artificial and Manufactured Materials – wire, string, cotton wool, foil, woven materials of all kinds, silk, velvet lace etc.
- Finished Articles – card of different thicknesses, matchboxes, cotton reels, large buttons, milk bottle tops, egg cartons etc.
- Boxes of different sizes, cardboard both flat and tubular or corrugated,
TOOLS TO PROVIDE
- Kindergarten scissors that will cut.
- Masking tape.
- Good quality paste brushes.
- Non-toxic glue or paste.
- Rubber rings.
- Paper clips.
HOW TO HELP
To allow the completion of an invention to the child’s satisfaction he may need help to make it more secure with a stapler or tape. Only help when asked, otherwise allow him to make his own discoveries and his own decisions and don’t suggest anything.
- Don’t provide precut shapes of any kind. The use of geometric shapes belongs elsewhere.
- Don’t supply cutout pictures
- Don’t trace an outline for a child to cut around. To cut or tear a shape from the mind’s eye has great value and distinguishes this activity from the old fashioned “cut-and-paste”.
Much of the charm of inventing the items from these materials is because they would be disposed as rubbish otherwise.
Children often ask for paint to decorate their completed construction. You may already have paint available in another location, or you could supply some to put on the finishing touches.
It is interesting to watch children engaged in this work. They become braver and more inventive as their skills and familiarity with the materials grow with frequent use. They certainly enjoy the process as they feel satisfaction from achievement. They can work independently or with others and become vibrantly inquisitive about new things.