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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

An Environmental Collage

Lesson Description:
Students will reuse a variety of paper products to create a collage with an environmental theme.

Eco-fact: A 100 watt light bulb can burn for three years on the amount of energy saved when we recycle just one ton of paper.

  • Before creating the collage:
  • Introduce the term collage to the class. Explain to students that collage became a distinctive part of the modern art movement at the beginning of the 20th century. Tell the students that a collage is not an example of precision, explaining that the pieces of paper do not need to be perfectly measured or layered. Explain that a collage is all about irregular shapes and sizes, layering and overlapping.
  • Explain to students that they are going to make a collage from used materials. The collage may include newspaper headlines, pieces of other artwork, photographs, magazine advertisements, scraps of paper, etc. These pieces will be glued to a larger piece of paper.
  • Explain to students that a collage is often created to represent a theme. Their collage will follow an environmental theme. Have students brainstorm a list of environmental themes and briefly discuss each theme with the class.

Creating a magazine collage:
  • Have students select an environmental theme. Ask them to think of a message they want to send to people about the theme. Explain to students that the collage they create should express the message and their feelings about the theme they selected.
  • Discuss the types of material students will need to find to address their themes (e.g., environmentally-friendly behaviors, pictures of the natural world—animals, plants, strong headlines, etc).
  • Have students cut pictures, words, phrases, from old magazines, newspapers and such to illustrate their themes. Students will glue these onto construction paper in collage form.

After conducting the activity:
  • Have students break up into small groups and share their collages. Have students discuss the message each collage portrays.
  • Display collages around the school to spread the messages of the students in the class.

  • Select a specific environmental topic for students to use when creating their collages.
  • Students can combine their efforts to make a class collage about an environmental theme. Their collage can be used to promote an environmental theme for the school (e.g., waste reduction).

  • Students can find current events articles regarding environmental themes that they can present to the class.
  • Students can “pick 5 for the environment” at Students can select 5 actions to protect the environment on a daily basis.

Lesson Type:
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Climate Change
  • Economics
  • Ecosystems
  • Energy
  • Gardening
  • Green Building
  • Water
  • Waste Reduction

GEF Program Category:
  • Sustainable Water Challenge
  • Green Building Program
  • Waste Reduction Challenge
  • Green Energy Challenge
  • Green Thumb Challenge
  • I Ride Green

Time Needed:
30 minutes
Materials Needed:
  • 8 ½ x 11 inch pieces of construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Old magazines, newspapers, greeting cards, photographs, rescued artwork, scrap pape

School or Group:
Contact Email:

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