Just in case you were wondering, that is not a plate of salad, but rather the starting elements of our Toddlers, Twos and Threes Art Group natural collages. Before time for art group, we harvested what natural items we could from the topiary around the Toy Lending Library, including leaves, flowers, mulch, acorn tops, and woody weeds. Once everything was laid out, it was time to get gluing and sticking items to our recycled paper pages.
We watered down our glue to make it easier to spread on the page, then the kids had at it. It can take a little extra glue to make some of the larger pieces stick and many of the items need to fully dry before they are stabilized on the paper, but the visual and textural results are worth the patience.
Some of our advanced artists decided that the collages needed a bit more color, so we added some of the feathers from the art area to provide a little extra pizzazz. The feathers – even in unnatural colors – were a nice visual and textural complement to the natural collage elements.
The addition of unnatural elements can even be instructional. After the collages are finished, have your kids point out the items on the page that can be found in nature and those that are strictly art supplies. Differentiating between something natural and something manufactured is a great step in building their appreciation for the environment.
Half the fun of creating natural collages at home is the opportunity to collect items from outside and incorporate them into art time. When your kids are playing outside, have them pick items they might like to use. They can build artwork based off the grass and flowers in their yard, the leaves and bark on close-by trees, and anything else within proximity to the house.
If you and your family take a lot of nature walks, bring a plastic bag to collect items of interest from the ground. (When collecting in a public park or nature reserve, teach your kids to be considerate of the natural world and to only pick things up from the ground.)
As your children make the natural collages, ask them where each item might have come from. Did this big, dark green leaf come from the tree in the front yard? Did that flower come from the park down the street? Associate them not just with the texture, colors, and shapes of the items they use, but their origins as well. Their memories and sense of placement for the items they use will increase exponentially as they routinely create natural collages.
Toddlers, Twos and Threes Art Group meets every Wednesday at 10 am and is open to all members and visitors (with paid admission to PTLL’s playspace). The group is run by Megan Spak and Elisabeth Moyer, with assistance by Emily Fear.