Rice boxes were cut into strips. Letters were snipped from 12-pack Pepsi boxes. Intricate puzzle pieces were fashioned from a box that once held cereal.

And it was all a work of art.

More than two dozen youngsters gathered at the Fairfield Public Library on Tuesday afternoon to learn the fine art of collaging from Michael Albert, whose collages are on exhibit in the library's Bruce S. Kershner Gallery.

Perhaps the best bit of advice handed down to the budding pop artists from Albert was this: "No gluing until you know what you are doing." In other words, lay out all the pieces you just cut up before affixing them permanently.

The 44-year-old While Plains, N.Y., resident showed off a few of his pieces, all made with recycled product packaging, including the preamble to the U.S. Constitution and a map of the state of Connecticut.

A father of four, Albert said he didn't create his artwork to work with children. "It just turns out children like making it," he said.

He also never intended to be an artist and was studying business at New York University when he began to take an interest in art and started attending museums. Albert realized, he said, that creating art was something important "and it would be great if I could do something important."

So Albert picked up a piece of oak tag and a set of "fancy" crayons, and began covering the oak tag with drawings of everything that could be found in his apartment. It took about a month, he said. "I really enjoyed doing it," he said. "I felt like it was productive." Then he moved on to collages, first doing collages of his favorite cereals. "I call it the birth of cerealism."

Now, the children got a chance to try their own hand at "cerealism."

"I'm cutting out the letters of my name," said 7-year-old Michael Cowenhover, as he took a pair of scissors to a Fruit Loops box. At the next table, Abby Hart, 8, was working with a box that once held 12 cans of Pepsi. "I'm gong to use the big P and little letters and maybe another big letter at the end to spell Pepsi," she said.

Hart said she was enjoying making a collage. "It's fun," she said. "You get to do whatever you want with it."

Nadia Roshenets, 9, was also planning to write her name, but was adding something else to her collage -- the American flag. "I kind of like this," she said, "because you cut things up and paste them."

They'll have to do a lot of cutting and pasting if they want to catch up with Albert. "I got this idea in my head to do every product in the supermarket aisle," he said.