For seven years I’ve been helping the schools where I’ve taught with their annual auction fundraisers. At my school in Nashville, we have an auction each spring and the highlight is the eight classes’ collaborative art pieces that are sold via live auction (very exciting). Here are some of my favorite pieces from over the years, with a few steps for how to recreate them. I think the best projects have an elegant color palette or composition, but show the mark of the child (i.e. they did more than just finger prints- however that’s pretty much unavoidable with infant – two year olds). Another characteristic I love is when they incorporate elements from the Montessori curriculum. ** Many of these were not my idea! Some come from Pinterest or my colleagues’ brilliant imaginations- I just help the kids create them.
PRO TIP: Have the auction pieces professionally framed! Download my framing guide here!
Made by 3-6 year olds. You can make up a composition or use any painting from history as a reference! This is especially fun if the children have been learning about the artist. Inspired by Matisse’s Still Life, Flowers and Fruit
- Lightly (very lightly) sketch the large shapes on a colored piece of pastel paper
- Working with one child at a time, show them the example and ask which part they’d like to do (until close to the end when only a few areas are left)
- Help them select the appropriate chalk pastel color, and remind them what part/how they will add color to the group drawing
This one was made by 2 year olds! Our school had just made a beautiful vegetable garden, so we had some veggie themed pieces at the auction.
- Give children plenty of time to cut the mosaic pieces (in the Montessori classroom the teacher added paint chip cutting work to the art shelf about two weeks before we needed to glue these)
- Have children paint the background of a canvas panel (or four) and let it dry, then lightly draw the shape of the veggies so you’ll know what color to glue where
- Working with one or two children and a very small brush, let them paint a small section of mod podge (about the size of a quarter) and add a mosaic piece (or a few if there is still glue showing), then paint mod podge on top
- Once it is mostly finished, the teacher can cut some specific pieces to fill in the last empty cracks
Made by 3-6 year olds. This one doesn’t necessarily have the “mark” of the child, but they sure made all of it and loved every minute. It was one of my all time favorite processes because I brought the loom and yarn into the classroom each time we worked on it and kids would gather around and try to pet the soft yarn. When I cut extra pieces off for trash they would ‘steal’ them and sneak them into their backpacks. It was really fun to see this one come together and the colors were inspired by March Chagall’s stained glass windows. I recommend choosing a color palette carefully!
- Use this video and maybe this loom (we loved it, especially the dowels that prevent the sides from being pulled to tight) to get started
- Continue adding yarn for what seems like forever 😉
- Use this video to learn how to finish/tie off yarn and add hanger (dowels are easy to find at Michael’s and cut with a little gardening saw- you can also order fancy ones from Etsy)
Inspired by the sun celebration mat in Montessori schools.
- Kids use acrylic paint to add color to the background (we used birch cradled canvas panels)
- With recycled paper, kids cut mosaic pieces, and since this one is made by 3-6 year olds, they were able to cut more specific shapes than the toddlers in the veggie collage
- Using mod podge, arrange and glue all the pieces down!
Inspired by the Montessori puzzle maps and pin punching works.
- Using canvas paper, kids paint whole sheets in colors that you like or that match the puzzle maps
- Either trace the continents from the puzzle onto the paper (with pencil), or use copies for pin punching and tape them over the painted paper
- Kids pin punch the continents
- Use yes paste to glue to a background (we used reclaimed wood)- if you use a more traditional background you could use mod podge instead
- Know someone in the tree business so you can get some great stumps 😉
- Mandala designs are the easiest with this round stump situation- you can draw something out or let the kids organically create one
- Use mosaic tiles and mosaic glue with a paintbrush as they work (it’s helpful to have the colors sorted) ** make sure they are gluing right side up (tiles have a back!)
- Add grout- this one is easy to work with, and then when it dries wipe up the tiles
Also inspired by our new (then) school garden.
- You need a simple white fabric and I recommend doing a small test of the whole process before having the kids begin- I bought just a simple cotton from Walmart…it may have been muslin (can’t remember- do a little test!)
- Teacher uses gel glue to draw the veggies (everywhere you see a white line or dot was gel glue)
- Once dry, kids can begin painting (one or a few at a time) with watered down acrylic paints
- Once all paint is totally dry, run under luke-warm water to dissolve glue
- Iron once it’s dry again