Torn paper art for kids: Making torn paper collages into a real art form

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Finished torn paper collages

Torn paper doesn’t sound much like art unless you take a look at a real artists torn paper art.

With children we do torn paper collages that is  such a wonderful activity and can be done with kids of every age and stage. Of course, the older the child and the more experience a child has with this, the more sophisticated their collages will be.

If you are only used to the old time collages for kids that use the left over pieces of cut up projects or neat geometric collages, this might take some getting used to.

I actually first learned about torn collages when I was in my art for kids graduate school class.

We did our torn paper collages there using brown kraft paper and the classified sections from the local newspaper. The brown paper was the background and the classifieds was used to rip. It was a very interesting activity and I realized late on how it can be much expanded.

Its a new way of doing collages and takes kids our of their comfort zone, which is a good things. Creative crafts is all about making kids think and solve problems and this is a classic case of that. They now have to think of how they will create a collage without pre cut pieces and no scissors.

The challenge the children have now is that they have to create their own pieces  to collage with. When the children are very young and or new to this type of art freedom they usually just react as they do to all new media. It becomes process only, ripping large pieces of paper and just pasting them down randomly.

The instructions for torn paper collage at first  are simple

The children are given a choice from a stack of construction papers to choose two colors and two colors only. (at least for the first collage)

paper for torn paper collages

Once they have their two papers they are told that they are to use one color as the base and the other paper they are to use to rip up to collage with.

The only problem is they have to create the pieces they wish to collage with on their own by tearing the papers they will collage with and there are NO SCISSORS allowed. Only glue. Some kids definitely have a problem with this idea as scissor use is the normal way to cutting things, especially construction paper.

The children may get a bit disconcerted at first, especially if they are not used to creating independently. If they are, they will like the challenge and get to work.

The collage below was done by  4 year old child. Younger children than this will often create similar pieces. As I said before random tearing and just gluing the papers all over the place without much thought.

4 year olds torn paper collage

The two collages below were done by  children a bit older than the previous one. It is quite obvious that they were giving real thought to the placement of their pieces.

torn paper art torn paper collage

The children below were even a little older children and they were actually using this activity to create representational pictures which shows a much higher level of maturity than the previous children.

house with torn paper art person out of torn paper collage

If you want to use torn paper collage for the children to create a specific theme than you would need to give them the proper colored papers. In the picture below the teacher wanted the children to make winter collages, so she gave them a few different colored papers with a black background and shown are just two of the beautiful pieces of artwork these 5 year olds made.

winter torn paper collages

(This is an update: Check out this post on snowman crafts to see some more gorgeous winter torn paper collages)

Another way to extend the torn paper art ideas is to add materials to their collages.

The first time I tried this, I told the kids they should make a tron paper collage but, that I am also adding feathers

 

feathers for torn paper collage

Some children used only the feathers but others took the assignment seriously and added feathers to their torn paper collages.

Torn paper collage with feathers

I have also added googly eyes and or crafts sticks. You can use your own creativity to figure out what can be added. It also can be holiday or theme appropriate.

Be careful though that you don’t add too much as they will not concentrate on the torn paper idea but, will make it into another collage which you can save for another time.

I absolutely love torn paper collages and also wrote about torn paper animal art  done for an Erci Carle unit.If you are doing animal crafts, its just another way to do them.

Have you ever tried more sophisticated torn paper art?

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2 comments
Sarah says June 25, 2013

It really is incredible how fast the level of sophistication changes as children grow. I will never get tired of seeing that. I recently did a collage project with my kids and, even between 3 and 4 years old, there was a huge difference (you can find that project on my blog). Thanks for posting!

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gary says June 25, 2013

And what is amazing is how you can tell the developmental level of the kids from their work. Can you give me the url to that blog post of yours?

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