It’ll be twelve years next month since my daughter and I sat together, supplies in hand, looking for just the right combination of pictures and words to create our Character Collage. A college sophomore now, she was in second grade then, but I can still see us sitting on the floor, poring over our Family Fun magazines, as if it were yesterday. I can totally hear us giggling about those diaper-days-gone-by with every Huggies advertisement we passed up and I can vividly see the twinkle in her eyes with every word and graphic that she deemed “Perfect!” for our project. If I get quiet enough, I can even hear the sharp blade of her left-handed scissors cutting through the sheen of the magazine pages to get the right combo for our creation; if I’m really still, I can smell the glue with which we adhered our treasured finds to that rectangular piece of card stock. The picture below? That’s the finished project from that day that still hangs in my office.
How to Use a Character Collage with Students
A lot of things have happened and are different in our lives since that day a dozen years ago, and yet, the message behind that collage remains unchanged for us. We still treasure the same things, find peace in the same things, strive for the same things, dream about the same things, feel gratitude for the same things: love, goodness, attitude, self-confidence, service, family, friends, play, loyalty, togetherness, sensitivity, honesty, kindness, respect, manners, tranquility, respect, serenity, values, attention, laughter, communication, home. But besides just some mother-daughter togetherness time that resulted in a fun piece for my office décor, what purpose can the Character Collage serve?
We reap what we sow. So if we are to reap positive outcomes, we must first plant seeds of positivity. Use the Character Collage as a tool to help your students focus on the positive things that they have in their lives and want out of them.
Students will find words, pictures, or phrases that positively describe who they are and what they stand for, guided by the following questions:
*What do I value?
*What do I believe?
*What do I hope for?
*What/Whom do I appreciate?
*What/Whom am I grateful for?
*What do I need to make my world better?
Provide magazines and newspapers where students can look for and cut out these words and images. Once all of the pieces to complete their collage are ready, the students will lay them out onto a piece of card stock to create the design of the collage. Add some glue to secure the words and pictures and you’ve got a Character Collage. Encourage students to share their work with one another and explain why they chose certain pictures or phrases.
Hang these collage creations in a prominent place around the classroom and encourage students to use it as a daily motivator as they navigate through their year with your class family. When they come to a fork in the road, their collage can serve as a visual roadmap of who they are, what they want to become, what they want to focus on, and what they’re willing to do to positively impact the journey of those around them in the process.
About the Author
A bilingual educator who was raised on her family’s farm in Wisconsin, Barbara Gruener has been the counselor and character coach at Westwood-Bales Elementary School in Friendswood, Texas for the past ten years. She’s also a motivational speaker and loves to influence and impact workshop participants in her signature Sing, Dance, Laugh and Build Character sessions. When she’s not at school, Barbara likes to write, read, knit, bake, and spend time with family and friends. Check out Barbara’s uplifting blog, Corner on Character, to read her inspirational stories about positive people and elevating experiences.