Assemblage Art in a Shoe-box

Term: 3 Year: 2014

Horsham West Primary School's Year 3 & 4 Students give a range of personal, found and donated items a new lease on life by arranging them in shoeboxes and  coating them in solid colour with Sprray Paint.

Unit: Assemblage Art in a Shoe-box
Year Levels: 3 & 4
AusVELS levels:  3 & 4
Duration of Unit:  4-5 weeks (45min sessions)  
Year: 2013

Learning Focus from AusVels Level 3 & 4:

As students work towards the achievement of Level 4 standards in the Arts, they apply and develop their arts knowledge by exploring art processes and ways to communicate concepts arising from their personal experiences and from the world around them. Through the discipline of Visual Arts – (two-dimensional and three-dimensional), both individually and in combination, they communicate ideas, observations and feelings using a range of media, materials, equipment and technologies to make art works.

Students select, combine and experiment with ways of using a range of art elements, principles and/or conventions, skills, techniques and processes, to explore art ideas sourced from their imagination and from their own and other cultures.  Students consider the purpose and audience of their arts works as they experiment with various ways of presenting works in a range of arts forms, and begin to evaluate and refine their work in response to feedback.

As they explore and respond to their own and others’ art works, students develop skills, techniques and processes for expressing emotions and ideas, and signifying purpose. Using appropriate arts language they begin to identify and describe ways they and others use specific elements, principles and/or conventions, skills, techniques and processes and discuss how ideas, feelings and purpose are conveyed. They reflect on their own and other people’s art works and ideas, identifying key features of works and performances from their own and other cultures, and discuss the function of the Arts in their community.

Unit Learning Focus:

To explore the concept/process of assemblage art and create a unique piece of art using non-recyclable waste gathered from an average household.  The students looked at artworks created by Louise Nevelson and tied this concept in with a waste issue in our society.

Teaching & Learning Activities

Week 1: 

Introducing the students to the concept of assemblage art and the works of various artists


Students choose a shoebox or lid and name it for next week.  Consider what items they may wish to use in their art.


In small groups, students look at and discuss photos of various artworks.  Seeing more in each work through discussion with others.  Discuss as a whole group, various waste items they could use.

Week 2:

Children begin assembling their artworks.


Students select items from the available donations, along with any they have brought in from home.  Time is spent arranging and gluing items using Supertac.  Heavier items are hot-glued on by the teacher as required.


Students discuss with each other, their choice of assemblage (item choice and placement) and comment on the works of those around them.

Week 3:

Continuing with assemblage and looking at ways to add more interest to their work, perhaps a focus on angles, details or combinations.


Revisiting the works of Louise Nevelson and that of their peers  (awareness in their own work of techniques and/or features drawn from other people’s works)  Completing their assemblage pieces.


Through planning art work that is informed by an understanding of ways other artists have used and combined selected arts elements, principles and/or

conventions to achieve special effects.

Week 4:

Spray-painting.  Whole class explanation and demonstration on how a spray can works…. Angle of can, wind direction (overspray), distance of can from work, drop sheets, health and safety with fumes.


Spray-painting with a partner for supervision and assistance/tips.


Helping each other (verbal peer support) with spraying painting to avoid drips/runs and create an even coat.

During week 5, provide time for students to present their works to the class.  This will allow them to answer any queries about their artwork and receive feedback on their efforts.

Resources and Materials

Laminated photos of artworks by Louise Nevelson

A selection of non-recyclable items from the art room (used glue sticks, felt tip pens, discontinued hot glue guns)

Donated plastic toys, either damaged or throw-aways from fast food outlets etc.

A selection of non-recyclable items from the art room (used glue sticks, felt tip pens, discontinued hot glue guns)

Donated plastic toys, either damaged or throw-aways from fast food outlets etc.

Items that the students have brought in from home.


Hot glue gun

Spray paint (various colours available, students to choose one colour only)

Drop sheets

Dust masks

An open outdoor area – sheltered from wind

Assessment Tools

Observation of students in small group discussions

Contributions made in whole group discussions

Facilitate discussions with students about their creations.

Observations of their assemblage in the making.

The art produced from the first week of assembling and the additions made in the following week.

The completed art work and presentation of it to their peers.


Set a minimum number of pieces required in each shoebox, but allow students to have a limitless number they may use.

Sharing thoughts with peers may guide some students to add more detail to their art.

All students to try spray painting. Confident peers may complete their partner’s work if the child is concerned after a reasonable attempt.

Link with other domains

Sustainable patterns of living rely on the interdependence of healthy social, economic and ecological systems.

The unit involves discussion about our society and the unnecessary waste we produce through consumption of goods. It also allows the students to be creative with items that would otherwise end up as landfill.

Link with Personal, Social and Physical Domain

In Years 3 and 4, students begin to shift their focus from their inner to their social world. Through their relationships they expand their social world and learn how to recognise the needs of others. They respect and support each other, offering assistance and giving appropriate feedback when appropriate.

Link with Interdisciplinary Domain

Students explore different ways of thinking, solving problems and communicating. They learn to use a range of technologies to plan, analyse, evaluate and present their work. Students learn about creativity, design principles and processes.