Magic Dream boxes inspired by Joseph Cornell

Our older children have a real interest in mastering cutting skills, sticking and construction with loose parts at the moment. Since the  recording of our end of year performance the children have also been keen to continue using the camera and tripod to record events. Throughout the art studio the children were found exploring collage, assemblage and experimenting with film collages. This naturally led our Art Teacher to introduce them to the works of Joseph Cornell.


We started by reading ‘Mr. Cornell’s Dream boxes’, by Jeanette Winter to them. Alongside this they looked at photographs of his collages and assemblages and the children identified their favourite pieces and objects that caught their eye. Immediately you could see from their faces the children were inspired!



As the project progressed the children explored many different art materials –  scissors, glue sticks,  paper, magazines, photographs, cardboard boxes, loose parts, fabric, paint, PVA Glue, camera, tripod and simple video editing software. Art techniques such as cutting with scissors, collage, assemblage, film and stop motion animation. Art elements such as shape, form, texture and colour all by expanding our art terminology.


In the early stages of the project the children learnt about the meaning of 2D and 3D works and  they explored 2D collage compositions. They used scissors to cut and make snips on paper and over time we continued to provide paper and printed illustrations for the children to cut, supporting their ability to hold scissors correctly and use scissors safely, building their confidence in the skill.  In conjunction the children also explored fabric collages and  children began to use glue sticks to stick fabrics on felt.



As the project progressed the children began to paint boxes in preparation for making their own assemblage works, which we called our ”magic dream boxes” and just like Cornell the children began to browse the loose parts resources to have creating their own collections with objects.



Puppets and Film Collage

The children watched some examples of Cornell’s experimental film work, including ‘Jacks Dream’, a puppet  animation into which Joseph Cornell inserts a few shots from other material– just enough to throw it into the sphere of artful fantasy. The children were then inspired to make their own puppet show box, as well as puppets using loose parts. They used the camera and tripod to take photos whilst experimenting with stop motion animation techniques, creating their very own little film.


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