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Fall Tree Collages for Elementary Students

Updated on September 30, 2012
construction paper tree collages
construction paper tree collages | Source
asymmetrical balance in fall tree collages
asymmetrical balance in fall tree collages | Source
comparing asymmetrical vs. symmetrical balance in the tree collages
comparing asymmetrical vs. symmetrical balance in the tree collages | Source

As a teacher, I always love teaching in the fall. It is the beginning of the school year and most of the students are very excited to be back at school. This autumn tree collage project is great at the beginning of the year because it is not very messy and the students all love doing collages. Each grade level of students is capable of making beautiful artwork. The final projects absolutely make the art room look great when they are hung up. The colors are fantastic in the project and they really perk up the room; fall is truly my favorite time of the year.


  1. This fall tree project does take a little preparation on the teacher's part. The biggest task that must be completed before class time is getting all the construction paper cut into small pieces (or torn) to use as the leaves. For the younger grades, kindergarten, first and second grade, I had simple tree trunks drawn on the paper with marker before they came to class. The third, fourth and fifth graders had to draw their own tree. Some did not know where to start, so I showed them a simple process to make trees by drawing two lines on the board first. Then I showed them how to draw their ground so the tree was not "floating" in the air. I made sure all the students had a glue stick and a small pile of paper pieces to use for their collage leaves.
  2. I briefly explained the princples of art at the beginning of class. These are the "rules" that are applied to the elements of art to make them into a cohesive design. They are: balance, unity, variety, proportion, gradation, contrast and movement. This collage project stresses the principle of balance in artwork. I showed the kids how to fold their paper in the middle. If the tree and the leaves fall on one half of the paper or the other, it is asymmetrically (or unevenly) balanced. If the tree and leaves fall in the middle and are about equally spaced around the picture, it is considered to be symmetrically (or evenly) balanced. In the younger classes I randomly chose where the tree trunk went. The older classes could choose which type of balance they wanted to use in their piece by their own tree placement.
  3. The students use a glue stick to adhere the paper leaves onto their trees. The older students had to label their artwork as either symmetrical balance or asymmetrical balance. Some students got very creative with their backgrounds and drew mountains, caves and forest creatures. They really enjoyed this project and even if they cannot remember the big words of symmetrical or asymmetrical, they understand the difference between even and uneven. They have learned a rule of art which will help them create better compositions in the future. I hope you get a chance to try this project in reference to balance. It is really a great lesson to teach elementary students.

Have you ever heard about the principles and elements of art before?

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