Lesson 2B: Dragon Composite Collage

  1. Introduction
  2. Teach It
  3. Dig Deeper


In this lesson, students will use the art of collage to depict unique traits of a dragon.

Time: two class periods


  • Students will explore possible dragon creations with unique traits through the collage process using a variety of 2-D materials.

Type of Activity:

  • Hands-on collage

Next Gen Science Standards:

  • Adaptation by natural selection acting over generations is one important process by which species change over time in response to changes in environmental conditions. Traits that support successful survival and reproduction in the new environment become more common; those that do not become less common. Thus, the distribution of traits in a population changes. MS-LS4-6

STEAM Habit of Mind:

  • Students create works that convey an idea.
  • Students use appropriate tools strategically.

National Arts Standards:

  • Enduring Understanding: Artists and designers shape artistic investigations, following or breaking with traditions in pursuit of creative art-making goals.
  • Essential Question(s): How does knowing the contexts, histories, and traditions of art forms help us create works of art and design? Why do artists follow or break from established traditions? How do artists determine what resources and criteria are needed to formulate artistic investigations?
  • 6th– Formulate an artistic investigation of personally relevant content for creating art.
  • 7th -Develop criteria to guide making a work of art or design to meet an identified goal.

Word Wall:

  • Collage

Teach It

Materials Needed:

  • Various art materials: 9×12 white drawing paper; miscellaneous black and white, and color illustrations of dragons, dinosaurs, reptiles, and other animals as desired; scissors; glue sticks


“Coined by cubist artists Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, the term “collage” comes from the French word coller, or to glue. The movement itself emerged under this pair of artists, who began working with various mediums to create avant-garde assemblages around 1910.” Braque and Picasso went on to create a style of painting called “Cubism” that had a collage-like look. “Defined by fractured forms and deconstructed subject matter, Cubism paired perfectly with the collage approach, as it enabled artists to literally piece together a picture from dissimilar components. Collages can be created from a range of materials, though most are made of paper or wood and often feature cut-and-pasted photographs, painted forms, or even 3-dimensional objects. As more and more modern artists began exploring the practice throughout the 20th century, these mediums became more varied and increasingly experimental. MyModernMet Collage

The original concept of  “collage” in art went on to inspire artists such as Sally Smart (SAMPLE A), Ashkan Honavar (SAMPLE A2), Nobu Fukui (SAMPLE B1), Miriam Shapiro (SAMPLE B2) and Josh Dorman (SAMPLE B3). 


The teacher provides the brief art historical background on “collage” (see above). To help students arrive at their own conclusions regarding the meaning of  the sample collage work, teacher can lead a brief discussion on some of the sample images using the Visual Thinking Strategies (see General Teacher Notes).

The teacher explains using sample/s or demonstration, that students can sort through the variety of collage materials and choose “body” parts, to combine to create their unique “dragon”.  Teacher should make clear that students do not have to have a pre-conceived idea of what their final image will look like. Rather this approach encourages students to gather possibilities first. Students are encouraged to cut out shapes of solid colors or patterned paper that can work with actual body parts. (provide colored paper and patterned designs such as scrapbook paper) Parameters of the project should include that each body part; head, torso, arms legs, “wings”, tail must be sourced from a different image. i.e. the head and legs from a lizard picture cannot both be used in the final creation (SAMPLE C – model collage).

Students begin by sorting through the variety of photocopied illustrations, nature magazine pages, etc. and choose various possibilities for body parts. For example a student might find a magazine page of a crocodile, and use the torso, or perhaps there is a furry rabbit torso they find interesting and they might decide to try adding the crocodile head onto the rabbit body.  Perhaps they find eagle wings and decide to add those to the torso. If that doesn’t work completely, the student keeps searching, and maybe finds pterodactyl wings, and tries those on the crocodile headed rabbit torso…etc. etc.  They mix and match until they arrive at a full figured “dragon” they are satisfied with, and glue the elements to create the final creature. Attention should be paid to careful cutting of each element to give a uniform look to the final creature/creation.


  • Students do a short gallery walk to view all the creatures. 
  • Then they should pair-share with a shoulder partner:  
    • what they see and differences between the creatures 
    • some new possibilities they learned or discovered by doing this exercise. 
    • comment on the advantages/disadvantages of these traits to the creature’s survival.

Instructor can invite whole group sharing of some of the pair/share discussion. The instructor should talk about the different traits that are visible and discuss how these new features might affect their ability to survive and reproduce in their habitats.


Teachers will want to gather materials, such as lizard and reptile illustrations for possible use in collage (SAMPLE D, SAMPLE E)

Old maps with serpents for possible use in collage (like artist, Nathalie Miebach discusses) (SAMPLE F, SAMPLE F1)

Romare Bearden – Bayou series https://brooklynrail.org/2011/05/artseen/romare-bearden-19111988-collage-a-centennial-celebration

Three Musicians https://beardenfoundation.org/art/romare-bearden-three-folk-musicians/

Hannah Hoch https://www.elusivemu.se/2015/08/05/hannah-hoch/

Dig Deeper (extension)

Dig Deeper Creativity

Go to Lesson 3: Copies or Combinations? Asexual Reproduction