The first part of our fifth grade Matisse exploration was a viewing of various Matisse paper cuttings.
We focused on identifying the use of organic shapes and positive/negative space. We looked at how he used a variety of sized shapes and how his compositions prompt the viewer to look around the entire page.
The task was for each student to use a 9 x 12 gray construction paper as their background.
The pieces for cutting were black construction paper, white drawing paper, and newspaper (only b&w- no color pictures or text).
I think this lesson was very effective for the students. We were all pleasantly surprised by the range of compositions the students were able to create with limited materials. They all truly gained a better understanding of composition. As they worked I would emphasize using both organic and geometric shapes, a variety of sizes, and considering repeating or patterning elements, and overlapping (i.e. "If you have been using all small shapes, consider using a bigger shape." as they worked).