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Trash to Treasure Art

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cardboard or cardstock, tempera paint, white glue and tacky/gorilla glue, paintbrushes and children's "collections" of small, recycled items


This project is adapted from an idea in the book "Make it POP! Activities and Adventures in Pop Art", which features the artistic styles of famous pop culture artists.  This project is inspired by the artwork of Robert Rauschenberg, and how he would walk around New York City and collect things and use them in his art.  This project is good during an art theme, or a theme on recycling.

Prepare beforehand:  Have children collect small items from home or school that they are no longer using, and would otherwise discard.  (You can send a note home to families a week before this project to give time for the collecting).  Some ideas of small objects could be buttons, pieces of old puzzles or board games, jewels from costume jewelry, small pieces of fabric, old wrappers, bottle caps, shells, small toys, etc.  Tell the children and families that you will be recycling the objects and using them for art!

Directions:  Put out a few bowls of paint (2-3 colors) and mix some white glue into each.  Allow children to paint their cardstock/cardboard as they wish with the paint colors.  Then have them look through their "collections" and stick some objects onto the paint/glue mix.  For heavier objects, assist children with applying some tacky glue or gorilla glue onto their board.  Their creations will be true, one of a kind, unique works of art that are personal to them because of the objects they used!

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