I Am Sunshine Collage

Purchase Just Like Me by Vanessa Brantley Newton at Bookmarks

From Vanessa Brantley-Newton, the author of Grandma’s Purse, comes a collection of poetry filled with engaging mini-stories about girls of all kinds: girls who feel happy, sad, scared, powerful; girls who love their bodies and girls who don’t; country girls, city girls; girls who love their mother and girls who wish they had a father. With bright portraits in Vanessa’s signature style of vibrant colors and unique patterns and fabrics, this book invites readers to find themselves and each other within its pages.

“Bursting with positivity, this would be a great book to use in primary school classrooms when discussing issues of friendship, diversity, and self-esteem.”–Booklist

While I was waiting on Just Like Me to arrive on my doorstep from Bookmarks, I was curious to see if there were any interviews with Vanessa Brantley Newton about this collection of poetry. I was delighted when I came across a PBS Books Storytime video with Vanessa Brantley Newton reading a selection of her poems. Vanessa IS sunshine; her voice is warm and she has a welcoming presence. She made me want to crawl through the screen and sit on a carpet circle to listen to her read.

The poem that really inspired me from her storytime was “The Day I Decided to Become Sunshine”. I’ve always found that children love to answer the question of what they can do for others, and this poem sparks them to ask how they can shine a light in their community.

Let’s all become sunshine and make a bright and beautiful sun collage! As you create your sunshine collage, think of ways you can shine a light for others.


  • colored cardstock
    • 12” x 12” sheet for sun’s face
    • 9” x 12” sheets for sun’s rays
  • favorite drawing materials // markers, crayons, oil pastels, etc
  • scrap paper // book pages, envelopes, newspaper, colored papers, etc
  • pencil
  • glue stick
  • scissors
  • optional // washi tape, colorful stickers


click images for larger view

  • Choose 3 sheets of colored cardstock for the sun’s rays.
  • If you have washi tape or colorful stickers, use these to create patterns on the paper. Or you can use markers or crayons to draw lines and patterns.
  • Tear or cut scrap papers into strips. Glue the strips on a sheet of cardstock. You can draw patterns on top of these scrap papers for additional color.
  • Cut the sheets you’ve created into strips. On one end, cut the tip off at an angle.
  • Choose a color of 12” x 12” cardstock for the sun’s face. Draw a circle that fills up as much of the page as possible. You can use a paper plate or other large circle to trace around.
  • Choose different scrap papers for the mouth, nose, eyes, cheeks, and eyebrows. Use a pencil to draw the shape you want for each facial feature. Cut out.
  • Arrange the facial features on the sun’s face. Move them around – make the pupils look up, down or side to side. How expressive are your eyebrows? Once they are where you want them, glue them down.
  • Flip your sun face over. Begin gluing the sun rays down. Make sure that you see the back side of the sun’s rays! Once all the rays are glued down, allow the glue to dry completely before flipping over.
  • Hang your sunshine where you will see it everyday, reminding you to be a light in the world.


  • If you’re creating this with a classroom, or even a small group of friends, come together at the end to share your collage and say one way you’re going to spread your positive light in your community.
  • Make collage sunshine masks! Instead of adding eyes, cut holes on the sun’s face, punch a hole on either side and attach a string.
  • Make mini collage sunshines!
    • Turn them into puppets!
    • Mail one to a friend! Write to them and tell them how you’re being sunshine and ask them what they will do to spread sunshine in their community.
  • Don’t have a material listed? That’s ok! The great thing about collage art is that you can use anything on hand. Maybe it’s a paper bag and junk mail, or scrap paper from a project you did last year. You can use liquid glue – just make sure you let it dry longer. Need other ideas for materials to swap out? Leave a comment and ask me – I love to think creatively!


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