Creativity Prompt: Dream Boxes (Best for second grade and up)

I recently picked up a lovely art book about, collage artist, Joseph Cornell. There have been many books about Mr. Cornell but this one is written with children in mind.  Like Cornell, young artists often demonstrate a keen ability to create in the moment using small details that are meaningful to them. Cornell was a master of using his medium to capture dreams, discoveries and memories in a way that appeals to both adults and children.
Check out some of his work here:

Mr. Cornell's Dream Boxes
By Jeanette Winter

  Cornell's dream boxes remind me of an elegant version of the tried and true diorama. Remember those? Yearly diorama assignments were probably the highlight of my elementary school career. Okay, I'm not gonna lie, they WERE the highlight.  In fact, I practically had to tie my hands behind my back to resist the urge to "help" when my daughter was assigned a bird diorama project last year. I sat in the corner with the glue gun and X-acto knife at the ready- just in case she needed anything. She did eventually let me cut a hole in the top and attach the nest with hot glue!

"Magpie: The Thief of Shiny Things" Diorama by Lilah (age 8)

"Magpie: The Thief of Shiny Things" Diorama by Lilah (age 8)

As an admirer of Joseph Cornell, I like to include his work in my art curriculum. Plus, creating a  miniature world can be magical for children. An artist study, a favorite book, a visual exploration of a science concept or a fond memory would all be inspiring themes for a dream box. This project involves making design decisions, collecting materials and playing with scale. I talk about symmetry, balance and layering in three dimensional work as well.

Start with a good sturdy box, cigar/photo boxes work well. Gather as many cool things as you can find. Try old book pages, fun colored papers, string, tiny trinkets, shiny things, natural elements and start experimenting. Carefully curated materials offer endless possibilities. This glue comes in handy for all sorts of collage products but a nice warm glue gun will do the trick too. 

During Nature Girl camp at Little Loft we chose to focus on spring birds. A few curated materials and feathers later.....

Our very own Joseph Cornell inspired dream boxes. Ages 7-10

Our very own Joseph Cornell inspired dream boxes. Ages 7-10