Painting and collage

Kids can learn a lot from painting, printing and collage including language skills such as concept development. They can also develop skills such as the fine motor skills needed for writing.  Making marks on paper is the beginning of developing literacy skills. Learning to make those marks represent something, a picture, is a step towards making marks represent something using written words. It is also lots of fun.

There are lots of different ideas for painting.  You can use water colours with brushes but remember the smaller the child, the bigger the brush, so short chunky brushes are best for little hands.  You can print or stencil with paint using things from around the house such as kitchen utensils, sponges cut into shapes, cotton balls and buds or even fruit and vegetables.

You can combine different mediums.  Why not try;

  • painting water colour paint over a crayon drawing
  • soaking chalk in water then drawing over coloured paper
  • painting with plain water outside on walls or paths
  • face paints or soap based body paints in the bath
  • adding glitter or sand to paint for texture
  • adding cornflour to paint to thicken for finger painting
  • adding spices or scented oils for delicious smells
  • boiling pasta such as spaghetti in water with food colouring then making pictures on black paper while still wet, warm and sticky. (Lie flat to dry.)
  • folding the picture in half so the wet sides touch, smooth together with your hand then open up to make a mirror image.  You can make great butterflies this way.

There are some more ideas on this website:

As you paint, talk about colour, size, shape and texture.  Mix colours together and talk about the new colour you have made. Make faces, people or animals and talk about the names of body parts. Talk with your child about what their painting means. Help them write their name on their painting and write what their picture is about to develop literacy skills. Take photos of the stages of their painting as they make it to develop a sequencing skills and practice describing procedures.

Encouraging your child to show and talk about what they have made with people that were not there when they made it, such as Grandma, helps develop “decontextualised language”. This is the ability to talk about something that happened in another place or time.  It is an underlying skill for literacy development that is difficult for many children with language difficulties. Having something concrete in their hands to talk about that they have experienced is a great way to develop this skill.

Collage involves gluing all kids of things onto paper to make a picture.  It is a great way to develop concepts of colour, size, shape, texture, categories, descriptive words, sorting and more. It is also fun, easy for little hands and inexpensive. You can use things from around the house such as coloured paper, cotton balls, fabric scraps, magazine and catalogue pictures, dried pasta shapes, dried beans and seeds, confetti, glitter, foil shapes, alfoil, pop sticks, cellophane, dried flowers and leaves, and more.  Make sure that the things you use are safe for your child’s age and won’t be put into little mouths.

You can begin by drawing a shape onto paper then helping your child stick things onto it. Make your shape fit the concept you want to teach. You could draw a cat and paste on soft things such as cotton balls and fabric. You could draw and apple and paste on all kids of red things. You could start with a paper plate and glue on all kinds of food pictures from catalogues to develop describing words and categories. You could make an “I like” and “I don’t like” plates or “healthy foods” and “sometimes foods” or a “fruit plate” and a “vegetable plate”. You could draw large outlines of numbers and stick that number of things on each one to develop counting skills.

Older children can make more complex scenes to develop more complex vocabulary.  You could draw a beach scene and glue on some sand, cut out fish, boats, people and blue cellophane water. You could make a farm scene and paste animal shapes and make a farm house with pop sticks. You could make a garden scene with flowers from patty pans and cotton balls. Choose a theme that interests your child.  Make a crazy dinosaur or vehicle.

This website has lots and lots of collage ideas for kids:

This website has printable templates and instructions to make a collage alphabet book. Great for developing early literacy skills.

Have a fun and sticky time!

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