Kindergarten – Ecosystem collages inspired by Eric Carle

Kindergarten – Ecosystem collages inspired by Eric Carle

Description of the Unit –

Integrated with a science unit on ecosystems, students will create an Eric Carle-inspired collage of an ecosystem.

Kindergarten art - Eric Carle-style ecosystem collage
Ocean ecosystem by kindergarten student: for this she used a dolphin stencil to help her

Activity statement –

In kindergarten science students explore an entire unit devoted to ecosystems. They learn about earth’s many ecosystems: climate, flora, fauna and so forth. Each student is assigned a specific ecosystem to research and present to the class. This collage will be one of the visual elements used in their reports.

To inspire the collage-making process, we will look at different Eric Carle books and notice his painted paper collages. Using his techniques as a guide, we will focus on color and texture as students first paint large pieces of paper in single colors and then add texture with the brushes, combs, forks, rollers and other tools provided. These pieces of paper will be used communally among the students for their collages, therefore no one piece belongs to one student.

eric carle
©Eric Carle

For the collages themselves we will discuss background and foreground. The students will do a tempera wash for the background envisioning an “out-of-focus” look, so that the foreground objects (trees, animals, rocks, etc.) visually stand out.

In some cases, students will get to use stencils to trace animal silhouettes for use in their collages. They can also choose regular scissors, pattern scissors or tearing (or of course a combination) for cutting the paper.

Here I will add that this project satisfies the following California Visual Arts Standards for Kindergarten:

  • 3 (within Artistic Perception) – Identify the elements of art (line, color, shape/form, texture, value, space) in the environ­ment and in works of art, emphasizing line, color, and shape/form.
  • 2 (within Creative Expression) – Demonstrate beginning skill in the use of tools and processes, such as the use of scissors, glue, and paper in creating a three-dimensional construction.
  • 3 Make a collage with cut or torn paper shapes/forms.
Kindergarten art - Eric Carle-style ecosystem collage
Rainforest ecosystem – the student was able to use a cat stencil for his jaguar

Goals – Students should…


  • The element of texture and how to create texture on paint
  • The difference between warm colors and cool colors, and which would be more prevalent in their assigned ecosystem


  • Facts specific to their assigned ecosystem
  • What a collage is

Be able to:

  • Define foreground and background

Objectives – Students will: Identify the elements they would like to include in their ecosystem collage; paint and add texture to separate pieces of paper so that the whole class can share in a variety of colors for their collages; create a collage with background and foreground elements.

Resources and materials –

  • Textbook or internet sourced examples of earth’s different ecosystems
  • Eric Carle storybooks
  • Bristol paper
  • Paint
  • Palettes
  • Brushes
  • Tools to create texture on paint
  • Cups
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Stencils (of animals to help in cutting out shapes)
Kindergarten art - Eric Carle-style ecosystem collage
Desert ecosystem by kindergarten student

Questions –

(While discussing what students have learned about ecosystems)

Which is your ecosystem? What kinds of animals are in your ecosystem? What kinds of plants? What is the overall color tone of your ecosystem, warm or cool?

Can you describe the kinds of textures you would include in your ecosystem?

(While looking at Eric Carle books)

Point to a texture you notice in the illustrations?

How do you think Carle made the texture?

How could you make texture with wet paint? What would you use?

Evaluation –

Did students:

Understand which elements, colors and textures to include in their ecosystems?

Understand the difference between warm and cool colors?

Understand the meaning of texture?

Thoughtfully create a collage?

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