We start off by talking about Christmas and I ask the students to tell me what they think of when they think of "Christmas." I let them list off their various thoughts and associations and then I ask them, what is the real meaning of Christmas? Sometimes in my first round of 'thoughts' they mention their Catholic associations and other times it revolves around Santa and presents, so this follow up question steers them in the direction of the project a little more. We discuss Christmas and Advent and then I talk to them about how we are going to make artwork about the real meaning of Christmas from something that often clouds our focus. We are making collages portraying Christmas scenes using Black Friday advertisements.
I let the students pair themselves up into groups. I allow them to choose how many people are in their group, but ask that it is between 2-5 people (but I recommend 3-4 for the ease of a convenient workload for all). Each group finds an image that they want to work from online. I let them use iPads to google search images and I suggest they add the words "coloring page" or "outline" or "clip art" so that a simplified image comes up. We use Reflector (a program that connects the iPad to my computer/projector) to enlarge the image and I allow them to trace the image onto a sheet of posterboard. Since this project is more about the meaning and materials, I don't make them free draw the image. However, at one point our Reflector program wasn't working, so I did have the kids free draw their outlines based on the images they found online. So really, it's your call how you want to teach this...you could even have them invent an image on their own! I can usually get 2-3 of the groups images up on the Reflector at the same time, so it doesn't usually leave many people with down time. And if there is a lot of down time I have the kids start collecting colors.
Anyone that is not tracing their image or once they are finished tracing their image, is collecting colors. I tell the kids to decide what colors they will need and to start tearing up parts of the Black Friday ads and separating them by color. I really emphasize that I shouldn't be seeing whole images, it is about the color, not the objects in the ads. I also emphasize that they should avoid faces, as a face within a collage can be VERY distracting. Which is why I tell them that any people in their finished collage, should not have an actual human face, glued where the collage face should be. I give the groups envelopes to collect their colors in and to keep them separated. Once they have collected "more than enough" of each color, I have them start gluing down the colors to fill in their poster. In the end, we get amazing collages with a good, Christmas spirit!