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Level: ECE, Primary, Junior, Middle School, High School

Grades: PreK and up | Age: 2 yrs and up | Written by: Andrea Mulder-Slater
[Andrea is one of the creators of KinderArt.com]

Students (and teacher) will see how with just one set of directions, everyone in the
classroom will come up with very unique works of abstract art.
This lesson is based loosely on an exercise found in Drawing With Children, a
fabulous book written by Mona Brookes. If you don't already own this book,
consider buying it... it is truly fantastic.

draw, shapes, images, design, listen, understand, unique, identify, imagine,
arrange, line, straight, curve, circle, square, triangle, color, similar, different,
aware, hand, eye, sound, new

What You Need:

construction paper (light colors)

markers- fine and thick tip (or you can substitute crayons, pencil crayons or

What You Do:

Teacher or parent will call out directions for their students and children.

Students will draw what they hear.

Students should be encouraged to listen carefully to the directions.

Students should not look at one-another's work while doing this exercise.

Teacher can use the following directions or they can make up their own:

For Younger Students:

1. Draw four straight lines from one edge of your paper to the other.
2. Draw five circles anywhere on your paper.
3. Draw one curved line that starts at one edge of your paper and ends up
somewhere in the middle of your paper.
4. Color in two of the circles -- any color you like.
5. Fill in three areas of your paper however you like (completely colored in,
lines, squiggles etc.)
For Older Students:
1. Draw four straight lines from one edge of your paper to the other.
2. Draw two more straight lines from one edge of you paper to the other and
make the lines cross over the lines you have already drawn.
3. Draw five circles - any size - anywhere on your paper.
4. Draw two curved lines beginning at the edge of the paper and ending up
somewhere in the middle of the paper.
5. Fill in three of the five circles.
6. Fill in four areas of your paper however you would like.

Once the drawings are complete, students should sign their work.

The work should be put on display in the classroom and a discussion should
take place.

Do the drawings look the same? Different? How are they similar? How are
they different? Why?

Come up with as many different sets of directions as you can. You will be
amazed at the unique qualities of all of the drawings.

Here are some examples from: carlisleartclass.blogspot.ca


Level: Primary, Junior, Middle School

Grades: K-8 | Age: 5-14 yrs| Written by: Kim Swanger
[Kim is a K-3 art teacher from Council Bluffs, Iowa]


This lesson requires planning and problem solving, much like a math problem
or science experiment. Students will see that scribbles can become much
This lesson requires planning and problem solving, much like a math problem
or science experiment. Students will see how a simple scribble can become
much more complicated.
What You Need:
Crayons or Markers
What You Do:

1.Start by asking students if they've ever made scribble pictures. Have a

student explain the process. (This kind of scribble is where you make a scribble
and fill in the spaces with colors).

2.Tell the students that they will be making scribble pictures today, but these
scribble pictures have rules.

3.The first rule is: you can only use three colors. The second rule is: the same
color cannot share a "wall".

4.Demonstrate how to make the picture by making a large scribble on the

board or a large piece of paper. Choose three colors. With the assistance of the
students, start coloring in the spaces. Discuss which colors may go in which
spaces and which MUST go in certain spaces.

5.When it becomes obvious that the students understand the rules, allow them
to make their own scribble pictures. Emphasize that they should fill the paper
and make large enough spaces to color. No teeny, tiny scribbles.

NOTE: If the students don't adequately plan, they'll color themselves into a
corner where they can't use any of the three colors to fill a space. This is when
they'll have to learn how to "cheat" by adding a new line. I explain that
cheating in class or when playing a game is bad news but cheating in art is
called "creative problem solving" and once they learn how to do it, they should
teach a friend.
Here are some ways to add even more interest to the lesson once the students
understand the technique. 1.Ask the students to only use primary, secondary
or monochromatic color schemes.
2.Have the students make scribbles using straight lines and angles.
3.Have groups of children cooperatively create a scribble picture mural.
4.Have students use the same rules to color "overlap" pictures.
5.Have students scribble using crayon, and then paint the spaces using
tempera or watercolors. Discuss why the paint doesn't bleed over the crayon


Level: Middle School

Grades: Gr. 6-8 | Age: 11-14yrs | Written by: Ruth Hand
[Ruth is an art educator at Middle School in Emmetsburg, Iowa]

This is a series of simple design exercises to further understanding of the Principles
of Design and how each can be developed within a structured composition.
Time Frame:: Two to three weeks depending on age level, how often class meets,
length of class period, number of designs assigned, etc.

Students will:

Review the basic Principles of Design (balance, unity, movement, rhythm,

pattern, contrast and emphasis).

Understand each principle more completely.

Provide "aerobic exercise" for the right side of their brain.

What You Need:

Video "Principles of Design" Gerald Brommer

Elements and Principles of Design poster sets (Crystal Video

Productions ph: 516-928-4420)

8 1/2" x 11" white typing paper (cut into 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" rectangles)

Variety of colored pencil point magic markers

Classical Music CDs and CD player (optional during class)

Dot Line Examples

What You Do:

1. View the video. Students may take notes if desired. Afterwards, review the
information discussed by having groups of 2-3 students take one of the
seven principles posters and present it to the class emphasizing two or
three important points talked about in the film.
2. Pass out 15-25 small-size sheets of the white typing paper for each series of
designs that students will be working on. They can identify their own sheets
by using pencil to mark initials on the back side. Make sure each student
has, or can share, at least 4-6 colored pencil point markers for variety.
(Large markers are too clumsy and do not make as neat a design.)
3. Do a quick review of the elements of design (specifically line, color, space).
Explain to students that they will be creating a series of designs, first using

dots, then lines, and finally, a combination of both. Each design should
illustrate at least three or more of the principles they have discussed. Stress
that, while designs need not necessarily fill the entire paper, they must be
complete and well developed as space is an important consideration. Also,
all designs must be totally abstract; no recognizable objects, shapes,
letters, numbers, symbols, etc. are allowed.
4. Discuss and establish some basic criteria for each group of designs. The
following work well for DOT DESIGNS (define a dot as the beginning of a
line, regardless of its size):

use only two colors per design (keep it simple).

dots must be round and colored solid.

dots within each design should vary in size (change can be sudden or
gradual but is important for providing contrast, thereby avoiding
"chicken tracking").

dots may "follow the leader," touch, overlap, stack on top of each
other, run off the edge of the paper, etc.

Dot Design Examples

5. Basic criteria for LINE DESIGNS might include the following:

use only two or three colors per design.

lines should begin thin, grow in thickness and return to a thin line
again...or run off the paper (so they remain lines instead of
becoming shapes).

lines should vary in length (short, medium, long) and may

expand/contract in any form or direction.

lines may be straight, curved, zigzag, twist; cross over, build on top
of or weave under and through each other, etc.

Line Design Examples

Line Design Examples

6. All of the above criteria apply to DOT/LINE DESIGN combinations. Limit
each design to three colors to ensure that the designs do not become more
about color than about design. Make certain students understand that this is
a form of brainstorming and there is no "right/wrong." Designs that appear
to be incomplete can always have something added. Encourage them to
relax and let their right brain take over. Explain that, often, our best ideas
come when we "space out" or daydream while doodling.

Dot/Line Design Examples

7. Tell students to look for new ways that dots and/or lines can be drawn or
interact with each other and still remain dots and lines. If they do come up
with something new, for example, dots passing through each other, have a
round table discussion to reach consensus that it still meets basic criteria.
These discussions can grow into interesting exchanges as students take
positions and offer differing opinions/explanations as to why they believe
some designs may or may not pass muster. Focus on constructive criticism.
8. As designs are completed, they should be laid out on the tables in front of
students for continual reference. Midway through each class, allow students
to take a break, not only to rest their right brain, but also so they may walk
around and observe the work of others. This provides opportunity for "idea
building," especially for those students who get "stuck in a rut." Stress the
fact that if they see another design they really like, they can create a similar
one by changing or adding to it rather than copying.

Original design and Expanded ideas created from original

9. When each design series is completed, have students choose what they
consider to be their best designs to represent each principle and lay them
out in separate marked areas. Again, have round table discussions as to the
merits of various designs. Students should name the principles they see
illustrated and comment on what might be lacking in some designs, for
example, no unity or contrast, unbalanced components, etc. Emphasize that
the best designs may show all seven principles.
10.Ask students to point out designs which show:

unity between all parts of the design.

formal (symmetrical), informal (asymmetrical) and radial balance.

areas of movement and rhythm.

several different kinds of contrast.

any obvious patterns.

a focal point or center of interest.

all seven principles due to outstanding organization of the basic

elements within the design.

11.Allow students to select their best designs for putting up in a large display
area. Ask for volunteers or choose students to plan the arrangement and
put it all together.
Follow up Activity:
Introduce students to the abstract styles of several different artists including
Margo Hoff (Marathon, Street Music ), Piet Mondrian (Composition with Red,
Yellow and Blue), Jackson Pollock (Full Fathom Five, Autumn Rhythm), Mark
Tobey (Universal Field), and Henri Matisse (L'escargot, Beasts of the Sea, The
Wine Press, Sorrows of the King). After viewing and discussing examples of each,
have them create their own more complicated abstract design composition using
geometric as well as organic lines and shapes and unlimited color choices. Provide
a variety of medium, such as charcoal, India ink, colored pencil, oil pastels,
tempera paint, and an assortment of different kinds of paper. Encourage students
to use a combination of several of these. Have students write an evaluation of their
completed work using what they learned from studying the Principles of Design.


Level: Junior, Middle School

Grades: GR. 3 - 8 | Age: 8-14yrs | Written by: Andrea Mulder-Slater
[Andrea is one of the creators of KinderArt.com]

This is a free-form drawing project that deals with the elements of design - colour,
line, shape, form and texture. Very wonderful detailed works of art can be
achieved by simply doodling. Have a look at the works of many great artists like
Joan Miro, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee for inspiration.

What You Need:

Any kind of drawing paper. (size 8' x 10' or larger).

Markers, Pencils, Pencil Crayons

What You Do:

1. Begin in one spot on the paper and start drawing doodles. Create as many
doodles as you like... the only rule is that no doodles should overlap or
interfere with any other doodles.
2. If you wish, you can keep the doodles the same. In other words, draw only
geometric shapes (ie squares, triangles, circles etc.) or draw only organic
shapes (squiggly "natural" shapes).
3. When you have filled your paper with doodles, begin coloring in.
4. You may use solid colour, lines, cross hatching, dots, dashes... whatever you
5. Sign and frame your work.


Level: Junior
Grades: 3 -5 | Age: 8 - 11 yrs | Written by: Andrea Mulder-Slater
[Andrea is one of the creators of KinderArt.com.]

Using paper, pencils, markers and some objects from around the home and
classroom, you and your students can create some fantastic patterns that will
astound and amaze. Note: Although this project is best suited for children ages 7
or 8 and up, you can also try it with the young ones, just keep in mind that you
will have to adapt the ideas accordingly.

What You Need:

Paper (8-1/2" x 11" or larger)


Magic markers

Rulers or other straight edges

Round lids from various sized containers (margarine, yogurt, milk caps,
etc.) Be sure to have a nice variety available - ask the kids to bring round
items in from home. (Optional: compasses used for drawing circles can be
used instead of the container lids, making for a good tie-in to math).

What You Do:

1. Begin by taking a ruler and drawing a number of lines across the paper.
They don't need to run parallel to one another, as long as they all run in the
same direction (up and down) Some can be closer at the bottom and further
apart at the top. Its up to you. Draw between twelve and sixteen lines.
2. The next step is to take the round lids, lay them on the paper in different
areas and trace them. Be sure to have some of the circles overlap other
circles. Also, don't panic if the circles run off the page. It adds interest.
3. When you are happy with the amount of circles (remember to make
different sized circles), then you can begin coloring in alternating areas of
the design.
4. The idea is to start with one spot in the upper left hand corner (upper right
hand corner for those who are left handed). Then, color in every other area
- almost as though you were creating a checkerboard.
5. Take your time and if you run into trouble, don't panic, just change your
pattern slightly and go with the flow. This is supposed to be fun after all.
View a step-by-step blog post:

One Step Further:

Experiment with different color combinations. Try using two different colors instead
of one.
Think about trying the complimentary colors together in the same design (red and
green; blue and orange; violet and yellow).
If you are unhappy with the finished piece, why not find an section that you do
like, cut it out with safety scissors and glue it onto a colorful piece of poster paper
or cardboard?


Level: ECE, Primary, Junior, Middle School

Grades: PreK - Gr. 8 | Age: 2 - 14 | Written by: Andrea Mulder-Slater
[Andrea is one of the creators of KinderArt]

This is a terrific drawing lesson that gets the creative juices flowing. It is great as a
15 minute filler.

What You Need:

Paper 18" x 24"


Water paint

Paint brushes

Oil pastels or crayons

What You Do:

1. Take a pencil and begin by drawing a window frame on your paper, making
sure it fills the entire space.

2. Using your imagination, draw something you might see when you look
through outside, through the window. This could be anything from a tree to
a scary monster to a drag car to your best friend. Anything goes.
3. Using the crayons or oil pastels, trace over your pencil lines making sure to
press hard.
4. With a lot of water and a little bit of paint, cover your picture with a "wash"
of color.
5. Sign and display your work.

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