Spaghetti Box Kids

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Kids’ Art: Open Composition

September 13th, 2011 · 7 Comments

If your art routine is beginning to dull, here’s a fun project to put the zest back into things. You could easily say this open composition art project approaches elements of surrealism in the spirit of, say–Magritte or Duchamp. In any case, it’s fun, it’s easy, and it looks cool around the house.


  • Colored Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Regular or charcoal pencil
  • Flat top tacks (optional)
  • Old art frame from thrift store

What to Do:

In this art project your child will be cutting out construction paper fish and rocks and arranging them inside and outside a frame on the wall.

how to draw a fish1) Choose a color of construction paper for the fish. You can use different colors or all one color.

2) Making the fish: An easy way to make a fish is to place your hand on a sheet of construction paper, and with your other hand trace the web between index finger and thumb. You can use a regular pencil or a charcoal pencil– charcoal is easier to see on colored construction paper. Careful not to trace too much. Just go from middle knuckle of index finger to middle knuckle of thumb. (figure 1)

kids art with construction paper3) Notice how the traced area resembles the head of a fish. Now finish drawing the fish.

4) Cut out the fish. If there are pencil marks remaining, erase them. Draw the mouth and make a mark where the eye will go. (figure 2)

kids fish art5) Make two more fish.

6) Of the three total fish, one needs to be approximately 2x bigger than the other two. Also, for variety, do not make all the fish pointing in the same direction. (figure 3)

7) Make a rock formation: To make the rocks, first pick a color of construction paper different than the fish.

surreal art for kids8) Now place your fingertips on the piece of construction paper and allow your child to trace them. (figure 4)

9) Cut out the shape made by the tracing– that is your your rock formation. (figure 5)

Mounting the Art Project:

10) Mount fish directly to the wall by pushing a flat tack through the eye. The tack will become the eye. (If you do not want to make holes in your wall, color the eyes with a crayon and use tape to secure the fish to the wall.)

11) Completely remove the back and any glass from an old art frame. Now mount one fish completely inside the frame. Mount one fish completely outside the frame. open compositionMount one fish (the biggest one) half inside and half outside of the frame.

12) Mount the rock formation inside the frame.

13) Your open composition art project for kids is now complete. (figure 6)

This project reinforces the concept of open composition by drawing attention to boundaries. Some follow up questions might include: Where is the boundary of the art work? If you mount a fish on the opposite wall, is it still part of the picture? How far away can the fish go and still be part of the art work?

Have fun!

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Tags: Kids’ Activities · Kids' Art Projects

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Amy // Sep 13, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Well done! This is caffeinated kids’ art.
    Looks like FUN!

  • 2 Spaghetti Box Kids // Sep 13, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Hmm…interesting way to put it. Good luck, Cheers–

  • 3 Todd // Sep 14, 2011 at 2:00 am

    Woooaa. Pretty great idea. You got a point about the surreal aspect–not in a strange way but in a plays with convention way.

  • 4 Spaghetti Box Kids // Sep 14, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Good to hear. Yes, I hope the visual surprise has do with a playfulness toward convention more than anything else.

  • 5 Lynn // Jan 31, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Really top shelf project for kids. Overall your content is thoughtful and relevant.

    I like that I’m not seeing any cute photos of tots with birthday cake on their faces, or posts about a lost sock, etc. Nothing against the mommy blogger crowd, but it gets kind of old, kind of fast.

    Anyway, nice site-I bookmarked and subscribed.

    -Lynn P
    Portland, Oregon

  • 6 seo // Jan 31, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say excellent blog!

  • 7 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jan 31, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Lynn- Thanks for the endorsement. I appreciate your insight, and for pointing out the types of articles that do not appear on this site.

    seo- Grrr is right. I would have loved to read your extended comment. I have no idea what could have happened. I’ve just learned the hard way to frequently copy and paste things I’m writing online..into a separate document. That way if the internet connection is lost or any number of other techno-maladies manifest, at least the info is backed up. Anyway, thanks for the thumbs up.

    All the Best–

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