Saturday, May 14, 2011

Newspaper Self-Portrait Collage

This was one of the projects I did with my 4th graders for my "Reuse, Recycle, & Recreate" unit.

Each year I do self-portraits with all my students so a mention that we were going to begin our self-portraits with my fourth graders led to the inquiry, "how are we going to do them this year? Are we going to paint? Rip paper? Oil pastels like last year?" As I laughed at their questions, I held up a newspaper and told them, "We are going to use this." That got them wondering!

We discussed the element of value and I had them do a value scale using pencil. As students were working on their value scales I photographed them. Using GimpI (a free alternative to Photoshop)I desaturated the photos to black and white and used the posterize filter to limit the number of values so students could see the different values in their photo more easily.

Students use the photos as a reference as they worked to recreate a self-portrait using the different values of ink in the news paper. The project took most students 2-45 minute class periods to complete.

Here are a couple of student examples:

A couple of reflection notes on this project -
* Many of my 4th graders found this a project a bit of a challenge. I think that moving it up to 5th or 6th grade might be a better fit for students in my school.

* As some students worked I watched them stop and read parts of the newspaper. This made me think that having students include words and/or phrases they find important to them into the portraits would be a great idea. I was in a bit of a time crunch trying to get these done before our Family Art Night so I didn't incorporate this idea then - but would definitely in the future.


  1. These look great - such wonderful results for 4th graders!

  2. These are terrific. I LOVE using newpaper (partly because it's free!). I'll have to remember this for next year. Thanks.

  3. use this as a resource- her art is great!!!

  4. Thanks! It's definitely one I will repeat - can't beat using free resources. Thought of doing one using the Sunday comics or other color sections of the newspaper too.