For several years, my third graders have explored collograph printing by creating snowy evergreens. Our timing didn't quite work out this year for that theme, but we may have topped ourselves with our texture mosaic collographs - they are really outstanding, if I do say so myself! We had lots of craft foam scraps leftover from our Calder sculptures, and I had a few rolls of really old corrugated border that was a similar thickness as the foam. We used the contrasting textures to create nonobjective mosaic designs, where we found shapes that "fit" together, but without touching:
Next, we prepared a couple of printing sheets by gluing some dark construction paper scraps together to contrast with the white ink I bought (originally for snow!). I knew that the kids would start to cut their background shapes really small, so to avoid that I gave them a strict 5 minute time frame to get their scraps cut and glued, and then I did my printing demo and they realized the background shapes weren't really important, it was just a pop of color! Every student had great success and the results are very artistic - they remind me of a piece of clothing I had back in the 80's with geometric and organic shapes scattered about (Esprit maybe, 80's kids?) Ha - it was like a flashback when I pulled my first print - gnarly dude!
Here is a pic of our printing setup - the kids' printing papers are under the table mat to keep them from getting inked until the right time.