Read + Create: Collage Adventure Story

This creative and open-ended art project for early learners is inspired by the children’s book, Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson. Explore collage techniques, as seen in the book, and work with your child to create a picture story of their own adventure filled with the people and objects they’ve observed.

This project is designed by the Museum’s Teaching Artists and inspired by our Reading Two-Gether Author Visit series, which provides early learning literacy opportunities for children. 


Collage Adventure Story Tutorial

AGE: 3+ (with adult support)

TIMEFRAME: 45 min (with story sharing time)


  • Copy of Milo Imagines the World or view a virtual reading by the author here
  • Blank paper (canvas)
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Crayons
  • Glue stick
  • Assorted collage materials (e.g. tissue paper, construction paper, adhesive foam)


1. Read the Story: This is a story about a young boy, Milo, on a special monthly trip with his sister. In the story, Milo shares with the reader all that he observes as well as his
initial impressions of the people he sees. The playful illustrations are engaging to little ones and tell the possible stories of many characters through Milo’s perspective as well as his own story. As you read, invite your child to observe the illustrations and encourage them to help tell the story using the pictures. Have them think about the people, places and objects that make up Milo’s experience.

2. Talk About an Adventure: In the book, Milo goes on an adventure. Reflect with your little one on a recent adventure or experience that made an impression on your early learner – a family trip, a day at the park, an event at school, etc. Ask your child what they remember seeing (use descriptive words), who was there and what was special, exciting or memorable about it. They can also create an imaginary adventure! Where would they go? Who or what would be there? What might happen?

3. Collage Your Adventure: Gather all materials and work together to create the adventure story into an artful collage (adding layers of materials together using glue and drawing tools). Begin by inviting your early learner to observe the materials and explore them. Then encourage them to draw and collage their adventure as discussed in step 2 onto their paper. Paper scraps can be used to create characters, patterns or shapes from the story. For toddlers, this is an opportunity to freely explore with textures and colors!

4.Reflect and Share:

After your child is finished with their Collage Adventure Story, observe their art together and ask your child to retell their adventure story as they look at their art. Write down their words as they tell you their story or ask them to describe or name the objects, people or characters they’ve created. Give special attention to how they depict the people in their story and talk about those impressions together. Find a special place to display their Collage Adventure Story!

Toddler to Kindergarten Learning Connections

Early learners (3-6 years old) enjoy storytelling and related activities like this one that allow them to engage with what they have heard and seen. This activity is also a way for early learners to explore materials and use their imagination. To further extend and build upon learning opportunities, consider exploring one or more of the additional activities below.

Drama Time
Encourage your early learner to use their imagination through dramatic play. Create or set up a space that is inspired by their Collage Adventure Story. Think of props you can add to a space for play that represent the elements (people, places and objects) from their Collage Adventure Story. You can create dress-up props or use recycled materials (cardboard, etc.) to build and recreate the scene and reenact the story’s events or invent new ones!

Words Alive Related Resources
Words Alive, a local literacy-centered organization and partner of The New Children’s Museum, is dedicated to providing literacy education, resources and programs to families throughout San Diego and beyond. In addition to virtual readings available on their website,, they have also designed a host of related projects and exercises for early learners and caregivers to try together.

Share Another Story
Reading is a wonderful vehicle for learning and exploring new ideas. Select engaging and age-appropriate books by the same author or those that explore similar themes, such as people, places, shared experiences and community.

Recommended Related Reading (Ages 2-6):

  • Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson
  • You Matter by Christian Robinson
  • Whoever You Are by Mem Fox

Preschool Learner Foundation Standards (Visual Arts, Social + Emotional Learning, and Literacy)

Age 48 Months:

  • Create marks with crayons, paint and chalk and then identify them; mold and build with dough and clay and then identify them.
  • Begin to recognize and name materials and tools used for visual arts.
  • Enjoy learning and are confident in their abilities to make new discoveries, although may not persist at solving difficult problems.
  • Use language to construct short narratives that are real or fictional.

Age 60 Months:

  • Begin to plan art and show increasing interest and persistence in completing it.
  • Recognize and name materials and tools used for visual arts.
  • Use language to construct extended narratives that are real or fictional.

This project is made possible through program funding from

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