DIY Kids Project: Symmetrical Insect Collage

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The collage above was a team effort between my husband and daughter. You’re a great dad, Cal!

Great for teaching a lesson on symmetry, or just making something experimental and pretty with your little one, this project could also be used as an opportunity to reflect on a bit of art history. You and your child (or your students if you’re a teacher), can be inspired by the gorgeous symmetrical work of Charley Harper and the whimsical cut-outs of Henri Matisse. Google them both!

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How to make (or teach to make) this insect:

Step 1: Start by drawing an empty outline of the insect of your choice. I taught first and second grade classes to do this and did a “draw-along” with them on the whiteboard in class. I kept it quite simple because they were young, and because the really fun part isn’t the drawing, it’s the cutting and designing. Your demo drawing does not have to be a masterpiece! If want to make a more realistic outline go ahead and try something more complex. Use a pencil at first, then outline the pencil in black marker so it’s easy to see.

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Step 2: Bring scissors and colored paper to the table. Cut some small rectangular pieces of paper and fold them in half. If they need direction, show kids how to draw a shape along the fold of each colored paper, then cut it out. Each shape needs to be cut in half so it makes two symmetrical shapes. Instruct the kids to cut out many different shapes and to cut them all in half along the folded line.

Step 3: Explain how to arrange shapes so they are symmetrically mirrored across the insect’s wings. Direct the kids to arrange all their shapes on the wings, without gluing yet, and to make more shapes if there is still a lot of empty space. Encourage them to try making smaller shapes to layer on top of larger ones.

Step 4: Let them glue all the shapes on once they’ve created a design they love.

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Step 5: If you want to address the background with more symmetrical shapes there, or by adding paint or any other medium, feel free to add more.

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Have fun making something beautiful!

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