Color Collages

Children will create a layered shape collage.

Lesson Objective

Children will explore colors and shapes as they make a layered shape collage.


What You'll Need

  • A large, color reproduction or digital image of Study for Homage to the Square: "High Spring" by Josef Albers from the North Carolina Museum of Art website.
  • 8" × 10" construction paper (various colors) – 1 sheet per child 
  • Scissors – 1 pair per child
  • Paper in various sizes with interesting textures and colors  – 12 pieces per child
  • Nontoxic glue sticks – 1 stick per child
  • 9" × 11" black construction paper (for mounting artwork)

What To Do

  1. Display the painting, and discuss the shapes (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
  2. Discuss the colors in the artwork and how you can see the different layers (top, middle, bottom) of shapes because of overlapping (see Vocabulary).
  3. Tell the children that this type of artwork is called “collage” (see Vocabulary) and that they will make layered shape collages.
  4. Explain that they will need to cut and tear paper to make interesting shapes to build their collage.
  5. Distribute piles of paper and 1 pair of scissors per child.
  6. Instruct them to tear or cut the paper to make big, medium, and small shapes so that they will have different ways to overlap and combine their shapes and colors.
  7. Once children have a nice variety of shapes and colors, have them choose a color sheet of 8" × 10" construction paper.
  8. Have the children plan the arrangement of their shapes in overlapping layers on the sheet of construction paper to develop the collage.
  9. Distribute glue sticks, and have the children glue their shapes onto the construction paper.
  10. As children finish, glue their completed collages on a sheet of 9" × 11" black construction paper.
  11. Display the artwork and take a gallery walk, asking children to explain how they made their art special.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Describe the shapes you see in the painting.
  • How many of that shape do you see?
  • Explain how the shapes are arranged and which shapes are in each layer.
  • Describe how you made your collage.
  • Tell me about the shapes you created; do you like torn shapes or cut shapes?

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Have the children go on a scavenger hunt around the classroom to find other overlapping shapes.
  • Have children make a different type of collage. They could use old magazines, recyclables, or craft items.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children cut or tear shapes from a variety of colors?
  • Could children create a collage of layered shapes?
  • Could children identify the layers in their artwork?


Did You Know

Sight is one of the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Eyes see things such as images, shapes, and colors. Eyes also can help to identify order and depth, both of which allow images to appear three-dimensional. How far or close an object is (depth perception) also is determined by the eyes. The color of an image can also make it seem close or farther away. 

Josef Albers was an American artist who was known for his paintings of colorful geometric shapes. In his studies, he explored not only the optical effects of color but also the expressive potential of color. His artwork includes a series of paintings with overlapping squares in different colors. They are meant to show how color can distort and alter forms, creating different effects.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • collage – a type of artwork in which different kinds of materials are pasted onto a surface to make a picture.
  • shape – the form of the outer surface or edge of an object.
  • overlapping – covering or going over part of something else.
  • layers – the surface of one material that lies over the surface of another material.
  • plan – the action that one intends to take.
  • arrangement – a group of things that have been put in order.

Lesson Tips

  • Discuss the meaning of overlapping. To demonstrate this concept, have the children overlap their hands or arms over their legs.
  • As children arrange their shapes, remind them to layer the shapes.


  • Shapes, Shapes, Shapes by Tana Hoban
  • Color Farm by Lois Ehlert
  • Ruby, Violet, Lime: Looking for Color by Jane Brocket
  • I Spy Shapes in Art by Lucy Micklethwait

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

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Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS