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Grade Level(s): 3-5

Collage/Assemblage - Discovering shapes, colors, and patterns using works by Matisse




  • Learn about different colors, shapes, and patterns.
  • Acquire knowledge about the artist, Henri Matisse and relate their own work to his.
  • Learn where the country of France is located on the world map.
  • Learn the shapes related to math.
  • Be able to distinguish between different shapes.
  • Be able to describe and interpret one of Matisse’s works.
  • Cut a shape of their own preference by folding a piece of construction paper in half. They will do this as many times as needed to create a pattern of choice.
  • Paste the shapes onto the black poster board using their imaginations, creating a design with the shapes they cut out.
  • The student will recognize art by a French artist, Henri Matisse.


  • black Poster board for background, 12x18”, 1 per student
  • brightly colored construction paper, 9x12”, 4-5 per student
  • scissors, 1 per student
  • clear glue, 1 bottle per 4 students
  • pencils, 1 per student
  • poster pictures of Matisse’s work (1 or 2)
  • a video about collage (1)
  • 3 or 4 slides to show more of Matisse’s work
  • artist handouts, 1 per student
  • self-assessment sheets, 1 per student
  • world map (1)



Art Production - cutting, pasting, making a collage using many different colors, shapes and patterns.

Art History - The art of Henri Matisse, French male artist

Mathematics and Social Studies - learn different shapes, and also learn where France is.

Day 1:
  1. The teacher will show the class a few slides on the works of Matisse and share some of his background history.
  2. The teacher will then pass around two pieces of his work in color.
  3. The teacher will ask the students to point out where France is located on the map. (15 minutes)
  4. Next, the students will learn how to make a collage using cutouts, made with their scissors, through a short video on collage. (25 minutes)
  5. The teacher will focus on color and shape, especially the way paper was arranged to create form.
  6. The teacher will make a shape using the scissors and paper to demonstrate what exactly is to be done. She will do this a variety of times, so that the students are well aware of what is to be accomplished. (10 minutes)
Day 2:
  1. The teacher will place the examples of Matisse's work on the chalkboard for a guide, the students will then create their own shapes, and make their own design. (35 minutes)
  2. The teacher will walk around the room to make sure that every student is on the right track and getting them to focus on certain aspects of the design, while the children work. (all during the period)
CLOSURE (Day 2):
  1. The teacher will ask that the students put their finished projects over on the shelves to dry.
  2. The students will then, pick up any scraps of paper lying on the floor and return all supplies to the supply counter. (5 minutes)
  3. The teacher will ask that everyone hang their designs on the wall.
  4. The teacher will then ask the students to stand in front of their design.
  5. The teacher will then pick out a few students to ask why they chose the shapes they did to create their pattern or design? Did Matisse have any influence over their choice of shapes and colors? Did you like this activity? (10 minutes)
  1. The student will be able to pick out pattern, shape, and color in a picture using their previous knowledge.
  2. The student will determine features of a paper cutout by Matisse from a variety of collages by different artists.
  3. The teacher will hand out a worksheet for the students to complete at home and return to class the following day. (self-assessment worksheet).
  4. The teacher will review the questions with the students to make sure that they understand the question.
  5. The student will make a collage on their own at home using whatever they want to, as long as it has something to do with shape and color.

Henri Matisse is regarded as one of the most important French painters of the 20th century. He was born on December 31, 1869 and died of cancer on November 3, 1954. Early in his job, he was the leader of the Fauvist, or the “Wild Beasts” Movement, a style of painting that focused primarily on colors. Of course, his style changed over the years, but he never gave up, even through the cancer he developed in 1941, he was still an artist. When Matisse developed the cancer he was put in a wheelchair because it was so horrible. He began creating paper cuttings and collages. This was one of the few things Matisse could do in his wheelchair. Making these paper cutouts is something Matisse is best known for. Everyone enjoys his bright, colorful collages. He was a perfectionist when it came to the relationship between color and shape, hence the name “Master of Color”.


Henri Matisse, “The Snail”

Henri Matisse, “Ivy in Flower”

Slides: Henri Matisse,
  • “Large Composition of Masks”
  • “One Thousand and One Nights”
  • “Beasts of the Sea”
  • and also a couple of slides of Henri Matisse himself.

AV resources: VCR, TV, and Slide Projector



  • Devonshire, H. (1988). Collage. New York: Franklin Watts, Inc.
  • Munthe, N. (1983). Meet Matisse. Boston: Little, Brown & Company.
  • Robins, J. & Steele, P. (1993). Step-By-Step Collage. New York: Grisewood & Dempsey Inc.
  • www.geocities.com/Paris/LeftBank/4208/matreal.gif
  • www.geocities.com/Paris/Metro/6436/matisse2.gif
  • www.barewalls.com/cgi-bin/ClientDetails.exe?ItemID=5332&thumbs=1
  • www.barewalls.com/cgi-bin/ClientDetails.exe?ItemID=5331&thumbs=1
  • www.geocities.com/Paris/metro/6436/mativy.jpg


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