A few years ago my school held a door decorating contest in celebration of reading month. I had to dive into my photo archives for this one, but since we are currently in the midst of reading month once again, it seemed like a perfect time to share.
I love the beauty in Eric Carle’s collages and I find his personal story to be so fascinating. So after reading several books by Carle to the class, we set about to creating a large-scale collage inspired by The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Unfortunately, this was a past project and I don’t have photos of the process to share, but I do have step-by-step instructions for you!
Each student painted an oval for the body of the caterpillar. I prepared these ahead of time by cutting large pieces of white bulletin board paper (approximately 2’x3′). On each piece of paper, I drew a large oval. The beauty of this was that Carle does not use perfectly round shapes so my large, quick freehand ovals worked great!
Next, I prepared paints for my students. I had 3 different shades of green. All were created with some combination of green, yellow, and white paint. I didn’t mix any of the colors completely. Eric Carle often has paint streaks in his collages and I wanted to look as authentic as possible. One student painted 2 smaller ovals to serve as the eyes instead of a large body oval. I painted the pieces for the head, nose, antaenna, and yellow outer oval for the eyes myself.
After school, when the paintings had dried and the children were gone for the day, I cut out the ovals and assembled them onto another, very large rectangle sheet of white butcher paper. I staggered them in a way that was visually interesting (not uniform because again Eric Carle does not do uniform pieces of art!) Then I opened all the windows for ventilation and used adhesive spray to permanently attach all pieces to the butcher paper. A caption was added to the collage and the background paper was trimmed to fit attractively on the door. As a final touch before hanging, the students used crayons to help me add fuzzy stripes onto the caterpillar’s back-just like the story artwork.
Now I know that you are desperately wondering
Did Her Class Win the Door Decorating Contest?!?!?!
The answer (of course) is YES!
A fabulous classroom resource is Eric Carle: Picture Writer . In the movie, Eric Carle brings viewers right into his studio and demonstrates his process of painting tissue papers, allowing them to dry, then delicately cutting pieces from his newly-created tissue paintings to form the collages of his book illustrations.
Kindergarten students are not the target audience of the film- much of Carle’s vocabulary and descriptions would go right over their head. But everyone loves to see a famous illustrator at work. So when I use the film, I let my class listen to the intro, then mute the sound and provide my own narration to Eric Carle’s technique in language the little ones can understand.