Friday, January 29, 2016

Grade 5 Romare Bearden Storytelling Collages

The second project I did with my fifth graders was a storytelling collage. This project idea was one that the art teacher left for me to complete with them. However, I decided to present the idea of collage to them by showing them Romare Bearden's collage "The Dove" from 1964. I have a HUGE laminated print of this from the "Picturing America" series from the National Endowment for the Humanities ( For those of you not familiar with this collection, check it out! I'm not sure if you can actually get the portfolio of laminated images anymore, but you can access the images digitally through the website as well as a bunch of other resources (discussion questions and lesson plan ideas). I am constantly amazed and delighted by the images in the collection--there seems to be an image for just about every art concept I've been wanting to teach lately (1 point perspective, 2 point perspective, landscape, portrait, radial symmetry, etc.).

So, back to the collage. We had a great discussion about collage, storytelling, setting, mood, and the figure based on the discussion questions in the Picturing America Teacher's Handbook and some of my own questions. Bearden's collage shows a place and time very different from our town! The children enjoyed looking for the dove and the cats as well as commenting on how the people were dressed and (gasp!) how there was a cigarette in the image. Great discussion that got us all thinking!

Then students were given a piece of card stock and could browse the big bin of magazines in the classroom to find images to create their own collage that told a story. I advised them to be open-minded about the story--I couldn't guarantee they'd be able to find *exactly* what they were looking for--sometimes you need to let the story emerge on its own! As they worked, students also needed to think about focal point.

One they had the entire surface of their piece covered, they could create a frame that enhanced their piece (also with collage)--students could think about colors and textures that would go with their main collage.

And lastly, we coated the entire piece with an, ahem, liberal coat of Mod Podge to seal it all in. I had the students complete a quick little write-up of their piece where they titled their collage and told me a one sentence story about it. Some of them were so funny!

After students completed this sheet,
they taped it to the back of their collages. 

If you'd like to learn more about "The Dove," check out this link from PBS:

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