Play idea: Collage – Mahi toi

Children create art and patterns by arranging different pieces of
material in different shapes. These are then glued onto paper or cardboard.

Level of complianceMain audienceOther


  • All Early Learning Services 
  • Educators, Teachers and Kaiako
  • Service Managers
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau

Children learn through play. Below is some information about a play idea for your children.

For safety, make sure all collage items are non-poisonous, and item for children under three are larger than 5cm so that they cannot be swallowed.

When using natural materials for collage, it is important to talk with children about respecting nature and sustaining the environment. For example, only use leaves, flowers and twigs that have fallen from the tree. Natural materials should be collected in culturally appropriate ways. For example by leaving the central shoot and leaves either side when harvesting flax.

Collage can help children to

  • learn skills such as glueing, sticking, taping, stapling, cutting, tearing
  • experiment with different resources
  • socialise with other children as they share materials and tools
  • be creative and learn about design, patternmaking, dimension and composition
  • gain concentration skills
  • learn to solve problems and develop their own ideas.

Adults can support children by

  • keeping spaces and materials tidy and uncluttered
  • making sure there is enough equipment and that it is in working order
  • having a wide variety of resources available
  • talking and listening to them
  • using rich descriptive language when talking with them about what they are doing and the equipment and materials they are using
  • showing them how to use tools, such as scissors and staplers, properly and safely
  • talking with them about environmental sustainability and respecting nature.

Providing for collage

A large, flat table low enough for children to work on and around is useful. Keep collage items in separate containers, well-stocked and displayed next to the table (not on it). This allows children to help themselves and have an uncluttered space to work at. Children can use collage materials outside as well as inside.

Ideas for equipment

  • tools, e.g. strong glue, round-ended scissors, staplers, tape, string
  • large and small boxes, cartons, tubes, containers, lids
  • paper and cardboard, e.g. white, coloured, lined, unlined, greeting cards, envelopes, crepe, silver, cellophane, magazines
  • string, cord, wool, tape, twine (all colours and thicknesses)
  • fabric, e.g. velvet, lace, cotton, wool, hessian (all colours and thicknesses)
  • natural materials, e.g. feathers, stones, shells, driftwood, wood offcuts, non-poisonous leaves, petals, dried flowers, moss, flax, seeds, pine cones.

Te Whāriki

Collage can be used to support learning across all strands of Te Whāriki. In particular, collage supports the Communication strand, as children discover and develop different ways to be creative and expressive. It also supports the Exploration strand, where children gain confidence in and control of their own bodies, including active exploration with all the senses and the use of tools, materials and equipment to extend skills.

This play idea has been developed for playgroups. Feel free to use it at other types of ECE service, but make sure you're still following the regulations and licensing criteria that apply to your service type. Parents may also find this information useful.

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