Raquel Redmond from Brava Art Press had the opportunity to present “The Art of Eric Carle” at the 1998 “Out of the Box Festival” in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. She was commissioned to produce an activity for children involving collage, inspired by the books of Eric Carle, to be implemented during the week-long Festival. 7000 young children from three to eight years of age participated in the art experience. In association with Chroma, Raquel created these videos and lesson plan to inspire children and teachers to explore the magical art of Eric Carle and the wonders of narrative collage.


Collage is an art activity using colored papers that children love. This project gives the students the opportunity to prepare their own papers, engaging in painting and decorating, cutting , gluing and creating an image involving shapes.

Art Materials (25 students)

• 4 sheets of copy paper per student
• 4 sheets of newspaper per student
• 1 sheet of 11×17 paper per student
• 1 x 1/2 Gallon of Chroma 2 Washable Tempera or Chromacryl Students’ Acrylic in the following colors: warm and cool yellow, warm and cool blue, warm and cool red, green, brown, black and white
• 1 quart of glue per class
• 1 #12 (1 inch) flat hog hair paintbrush
per student
• 1 #3 hog hair paintbrush per student
• 1 pair of classroom scissors per student
• 1 colored crayon per student
• several classroom erasers to share
• soft plastic table cloths to cover the tables
• 1 x 5 gallon bucket to wash the equipment in.

Recycled Materials

• 10 small format newspapers
• 1 x old shirt per student to be used as a protective paint shirt
• 12 clean plastic, take away food containers with lids for each group, to contain paint.
• 4 clean plastic milk bottles to make scratching combs
• 5 small pieces of corrugated cardboard per group
• 2 old sheets to cut up into rags
• 1 box of cotton buds for the groups to share
• 5 plastic forks per group
• 5 paddle pop sticks per group

Visual References

There will be a number of Eric Carle’s books already in the school Library. Should you require additional information please visit the Eric Carle website on: www.eric-carle.com

Sourcing materials

Materials for this project will be easy to find. A small list of recyclable materials can go home with the students to collect. Paddle pop sticks, a few clean milk plastic bottles, plastic forks, small pieces of corrugated cardboard, plastic take away food containers with lids, newspapers and others. It is important to invest time to collect materials to ensure a sufficient supply is available on hand.

First Session


To be done after all the desks have been grouped and covered and all the art materials and equipment are ready on the tables.

Introduce Eric Carle to the students. Show a picture of the artist, read one of his books and briefly talk about his life and his art work. The way he paints his papers—one day he paints all the blues needed for the sky, the ocean and the blue whale. On another day he will paint all the greens needed to create the grass, the leaves on the trees and a variety of plants etc.

Point out how simple his pictures are being composed of large and colorful shapes and the colors he uses to create different characters, for example: a large orange and grey cat.

Discuss the idea of illustration with older students, in a simple way, how to combine words and pictures.

The last segment on the motivation stage is to discuss with the students what they would like to create. It is important to encourage them to create their own “stories” and create their own characters. The characters can then be turned into puppets at a later stage.


The first part of the project involves creating “The Paper Bank”. Students will paint and decorate paper and when dried, will be shared within the different groups.


1. Room set up

Once all the required materials and equipment is ready, the next task is to create the table/work space required to paint and decorate the paper. To achieve this, arrange the desks in groups of 4 or 5 room set up (image 1) covered with small sheets of newspaper or soft plastic tablecloths.

2. Paintbrushes

Set up the tables with the paint in food containers, the paintbrushes, 1 big # 12 (image 2) brush to apply paint all over and a small # 3 brush to paint small patterns. Supply rags, water containers, paper and tools to scratch and make marks with.

3. Painted paper set on a piece of newspaper

Every student should paint four pieces of paper in different colors. The paper should be placed on a piece of newspaper for easy handling (image 3).

First step is to paint a color all over using the big paintbrushes, then while the paint is still wet scratch textures using the plastic tools made of milk bottles, cardboard, plastic forks or simple using erasers.

4. Example of scratching tools

The scratching of textures is very effective and works well as the paints Chroma 2 Washable Tempera and Chromacryl Students’ Acrylics have been specially formulated for this kind of project. Once the textures have been scratched, students can add more patterns/colors using the small paintbrush, sticks, cotton buds, etc. (image 4).

After the first piece is painted and decorated it should be taken out to dry. Provide a new piece of paper until the students complete all four pieces.

5. Carefully separate the painted sheets from the newspaper

When the paper has dried separate the painted paper from the newspaper, insert a flat hand between the two pieces of paper and gently separate them (image 5).

When working with very young children, it will be fine for them to paint less sheets and also, they will tend to paint different colors on the same paper. This is OK as long as they can scratch some textures on the wet paint using the milk bottle combs and other tools.

For kindergarten aged children they can use their fingers: Chroma 2 Washable washes off hands easily!

Second Session


Once the papers have been painted and decorated, now is time to create the collage.

To set the room and tables follow instructions given for the first session.

Have the painted papers ready, cut up in half and sorted in four or five bunches, according to the number of groups. Distribute the papers in such way that every group gets a variety of different colors to use in their collage.

Before starting this session, remind the students how Eric Carle creates his pictures. Show pictures of his illustrations and point out the large simple shapes cut out of paper and the white background.

Students can choose their own theme or everybody can work on the same idea as suggested by the teacher, like the circus for example. Another option is to illustrate their own stories they have previously written. The pictures the students create will depend on their age group.

6. Paper bank

On the tables: set up the tables with one sheet of white paper (cartridge paper), a pair of scissors, one crayon in any colour, one short handled cheap brush and a piece of rag per student for cleaning. Centrally place 2 or 3 containers of glue and the “paper bank”, for the students to share.

Students will start drawing their shapes on the BACK of the coloured paper using their crayon. Before they start gluing, all or most of the shapes should be pre-cut so they can plan how they will arrange and glue the shapes to create the pictures.

This project has been designed to be done over two sessions, but if needed, it can be extended to three sessions depending on the age group of the students and the complexity of the collage themes.

7. Torn paper collage

For very young children, instead of using scissors, the shapes can be torn by hand (image 7).


  • Chroma 2 Washable or Chromacryl can be used for this project. One set of 1/2 gallons of the colors mentioned in the art materials section should last for a year.

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