Friday, December 17, 2010

Surrealism again - 4th grade collages

This is my second surrealism/Dali post tonight! Hopefully next week I can post the surreal lockers made by my 6th graders, 2nd grade landscapes with dripping clocks, and if we finish them, 5th grade surreal hallways.
My 4th graders made these surreal collages after viewing and discussing the DVD Get Surreal with Salvador Dali. As I've mentioned before, educators can get this movie for FREE (does it get any better than that?) from the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. The kids totally loved this movie - it's wacky, with a fun song, young adorable narrators, an animated moustache, and some giggle-worthy glimpses of nudity (imagine a statue of Venus that doubles as a "chest" of drawers). And it does a great job of explaining various vocabulary words: surrealism, juxtapostion, dislocation, tranformation, levitation, and even muse and bust. Kids will learn about Dali's fear of grasshoppers, and much, much more!

This collage project, using only magazine images, is introduced in the movie. We cut up old magazines: Ranger Rick, National Geographic Traveler, Adirondack Life, Woman's Day, Good Housekeeping, and more.
I gave each student an 8-1/2 x 11" piece of oaktag, and a Ziploc bag big enough for the paper. The students stored the images they "collected" in this bag, and no gluing was allowed until they had plenty of images cut and placed in their bags.
The rules were simple: take no more than 2 magazines at once, return magazines neatly to the proper box, select some large images to cover entire paper so no white space shows, and cut smaller images carefully to remove all background.
Also: no blood, gore, violent images, tobacco, alcohol,or underwear, and no combining of images in a way that might offend or hurt feelings.


  1. Your kids took a lot more though in these then mine do. This type of a project always bombs for me.

  2. Thank you for introducing me to Dali Museum. I am looking into that "free" video :)

  3. I think there were several keys in the lesson not bombing:
    1) the video helps a LOT as it briefly introduces the project and the terminology of surrealism. So we spent a good deal of time on vocabulary review and recalling what was on the movie, which is about 1/2 hour long and worth every second of it.
    2) Everyone had at least one and most had two full art class periods (40 min) to cut and fill their Ziploc, and there was no glue available to them.
    3)They had to show me that they had a way to fill the background before putting stuff on it. We found lots of good full page photos for background, but most were SMALLER than their white paper so they had to cut pieces to fill the gaps. If you look carefully you will see the ones posted all have found a way to do this. By the way, it's a good idea to keep the paper no bigger than the size I did, or you will find that they want to leave a bunch of white space and that ruins the sense of space and depth that is so prevalent in surreal artwork.

  4. I love your "rules" for this project!! I do a similar "Surrealism Collage" with my 4th graders each year, only we study Rene Magritte in preparation for it. I'll add that lesson to my list of projects to post for 2012. Happy New Year!

  5. PS
    I meant to tell you that we solve the "empty white space" problem by creating our collage on calendar photos. Travel calendars, or any calendars of photographs, work really well for this. If you ask parents at your school to bring in their old 2011 calendars for you, you'll probably have enough to last you a few years! :)

  6. Great idea (asking for and using calendar photos). Actually I have a bunch of good sized photos this year so it won't be a problem this time.

  7. I am appalled that you would show that video to fourth graders. It has SEVERAL instances of nudity. I am a teacher, by the way, and I would never expose such young souls to any form of nudity. That is precisely why this country is going down the toilet.

    1. Thank you, JDS, for your comment. I hope you will check back with my blog, because I will be responding to your comment probably later today with an entire new post discussing this topic.