Goofy Gourds: Kindergarteners Exploring Facial Expressions Through Collage

Kindergarteners practiced their tracing, cutting, and gluing skills with this Goofy Gourd collage.

My Kinders finished up their first piece of artwork: a collage made up of colored construction paper using both organic and geometric shapes. My learning goals for them included:

  • Developing foundational skills of tracing and cutting both organic/irregular and geometric shapes
  • Learning effective gluing strategies using a glue stick
  • Creating facial expressions through the use and arrangement of shapes
  • Adding details to enhance the personality and environment within their artwork

Students used both organic and geometric shapes to create expressions for these Fall-inspired and fun gourds.The work we did together is the first of a series of collage pieces they will be doing. One of my overarching goals for my Kindergarteners this year is for them to learn how to trace, cut, and glue with proficiency.

With the conclusion of this piece, I can see clearly that most of my students are ‘in development’ with regard to these skills, which is good and to be expected. I do have some, though, who desperately need practice. I’m excited to see their growth after a series of these simple, representational collages. I may branch out with something funky and abstract later, too. There’s so much to do with collage!

Over the break, I’ll be finalizing the rubric for this piece and providing some online resources for parents to access for home use. I have been excited that a few parents who attended parent-teacher conferences for interim progress reports expressed a desire to do things at home to help their Kindergartener!

What’s in a Name?

Now, Goofy Gourds is a modification of a previous art piece—Pumpkins with Personality—this grade level did a couple years ago. As I indicated at the end of that post, I changed from pumpkins-only to gourds. Technically, I should have called this project “Goofy Gourds and Silly Squash” because pumpkins are technically classified as squash whereas two of the other shapes I had the students work with lean towards being gourds (see below).

I created a series of organic shapes representing pumpkins and gourds to help students practice tracing shapes for a simple, yet fun, collage project.

I created a series of organic shapes representing pumpkins and gourds to help students practice tracing shapes for Goofy Gourds; a simple, yet fun, collage project.

The Process

Any project where you have a lot of little pieces, you can count on it taking up class time. But, that’s okay and should be encouraged if the end-goal is kids being engaged and challenged to learn new things! To be sure, there are quite a bit of kinesthetic and fine-motor skill development opportunities here!

The steps to success for this fun, Fall-inspired project about shapes and expressions include:

  1. Select your goofy gourd color (12×18)
  2. Choose a tracer for your goofy gourd’s body and trace that organic shape
  3. Pick either circles or squares for eyes and trace those shapes (don’t cut out yet)
  4. Cut out pre-traced small black circles and glue onto white eye
  5. Draw a mouth shape (again, can be organic or geometric shape) onto black paper (3×5 or 4×6) using a white colored pencil (but don’t add teeth)
  6. Select a background color (12×18)
  7. Paint the grass using tempera on the background paper (We discuss how grass grows from seeds and how artists often paint their brushstrokes in the directions things grow)
  8. Glue gourd onto the background color and, then, add the lines from top to bottom for your gourd shape
  9. Cut out eyes and mouth, and glue those down (NOTE: Before this step, demonstrate a variety of facial expressions achievable by putting the shapes in different locations on your gourd sample (or, use one of the kids’ gourds!)
  10. Hand out a white strip of paper (1×3) to every student and discuss different shapes for teeth; after the review, cut out and glue down teeth for inside the mouth
  11. Using construction paper crayons, draw (and color in!) background details that are contextual (e.g., sun, clouds, birds, trees, etc. for the daytime)
  12. Using a green construction paper crayon, add line texture to the grass area using swift upward motions

The speed at which you work will be dependent on your Kindergarteners (and your teaching schedule). Many Kinders do not do well with multi-step directions. Slow and steady wins the race here!

I’m on a six-day schedule (in practical terms, that’s often every 8-10 days). So, this is a long-term project for me. For classroom teachers who would like to do this project, it would entail two days with a little time in the morning and afternoon or working for a week during the afternoon for a bit.

You could also incorporate some writing by creating a haiku for them to practice their printing. There’s a free dotted-line font for download at FontSpace. How’s this for a quick one?

I see the leaves float
Making goofy gourds is fun
It is Fall outside

Poetry4Kids.com is a fun site, and Kenn Nesbitt, the site’s creator, walks you through the steps!

For Next Time

Students used both organic and geometric shapes to create expressions for these Fall-inspired and fun gourds.When I choose to work with this theme again, I will bring science into it more with a discussion about gourds versus squash. I think this will be interesting and informative for the kids. Plus, those tidbits of information can be reinforced easily throughout the development of their artwork.

Additionally, I want to explore painted paper with this project. My Kinders love to paint with tempera, and I think explorations with watercolor and/or tempera would be a fun extension and worthwhile. The differences between those two mediums could also highlight textural differences within their work.


Look, Mr. Phillips, I made a vampire princess pumpkin!

right_arrowVisit Artsonia to check out this student’s artwork and see more student samples from this project and others!

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