For many years in December, I have had the kindergarten students at my school create a small found object assemblage of a house. It has been a favorite of mine, as it ties a lot of art concepts together, symmetry, color, shape, collage, and much more. Most of all, the students get to let loose a little, as it becomes a kitchen sink project, where they can throw lots of different materials together, and just have some fun.
I often see their personalities shine through in these houses, some are very structured and ordered, where others feel more scattered and playful.
It starts in the beginning of the school year. As most art teachers do, we save all the cardboard boxes from our art supply order- as it means as added material for sculpture or whatever!
I spend a good deal of time cutting up these boxes into varying shapes- rectangles, squares, and triangles.. to construct the house shape and use for details such as windows and doors.
Also, I gather materials, recycled or a mix of art materials that are small, and lend themselves for embellishments (buttons, gems, pipe cleaners, beads, and fiber scraps). I also use a great material called "bits o wood" which I get from Nasco. This stuff is so much fun for little hands.
The first class, we discuss the word, "assemblage" and how it is similar to collage, only more 3-dimensional. If time permits, sometimes I show the work of Louise Nevelson, Robert Rauschenberg, and other artists that explored assemblage.
We begin assembling and gluing our houses together, starting with the rectangle for the base, then a triangle for the roof. I have them come up by their table color to pick out further materials for embellishment, and then they are off!
A word on glue. I have tried using both Elmers squeeze bottles (which mercifully clog all the time not matter what you do!) and glue pots with small brushes.. glue pots are the better choice for little ones. The time that you spend unclogging glue is not worth the trouble and unless they are gluing with some kind of creative meaning, it's not worth the trouble!
I also try to encourage students to bring in a few novel materials from home (I always get some incredible stuff here ;) to personalize their house.
We complete the houses the following week and discuss paint and color mixing. I have started using puck tempera recently which feels like very powerful watercolor, only more opaque. It allows students to mix and layer the color more deliberately and allows for more immediate results.
When the houses dry, I glue on a ribbon and button to the back of the project so it can hang. Lots of hot glue is needed for this, and in general, I have the hot glue flowing throughout the entire project, as it is needed in the event that anything falls off during the process.
Please check out some finished houses from this week!