Month: February 2013

A Lesson in Contrast

Teaching a kindergarten class for only a half hour every other week can be a bit of a challenge. I wanted to do something more than a little arts and crafts lesson so I ended up making a plan that they will work on for the next two classes. So far they’ve absolutely loved it! you know something is going right when you have a few that get teared up when it is time to leave the art room… I based this lesson on the book “The Mitten” by Jan Brett. The goal was to teach them about contrast while practicing their cutting, pasting and tracing skills. They even got some writing practice with a worksheet I printed that they could draw on and tell me about their favorite animal. Below is the IMG_3156lesson plan:

Essential Question: Can you design a mitten that will stand out on the white background?

School Goals: Cutting, Pasting, Contrast, Contour lines, Shapes, Printing, Writing

Learning Goal:

  1. To encourage students to try many different types of patterns to fill their drawings with lots of interesting colors and designs so that their mittens will stand out against the white background.
  2. Practice Cutting Skills
  3. Practice Tracing

Materials and Resources:

  1. Two- 9×12 pieces of white paper (or one white and one color of their choice for mittens.)
  2. Construction paper crayons
  3. Scissors
  4. Mitten Stencil
  5. Book “The Mitten” by Jan Brett
  6. Foam stamps for footprints, grey or blue ink pads
  7. Writing worksheets


I sat them down on the rug and read the book out loud to them which took about 15-20 minutes. At the end I asked them why Nikki’s Baba didn’t want to make a mitten “white as snow” and we looked at the illustrations in the book. They loved sneezing a long with the bear! I had prepared a white mitten and a bright colored mitten and we talked about contrast as I held them against a white board. I told them they would be helping design a new set of mittens for Nikki that would be easier to find in the snow. I had them return to their seats, and after a brief demonstration of how they would be tracing their mittens, we handed out the tracers, pencils and paper. Their abilities are pretty varied so some found this easy and some really needed a lot of help. For those who were done, I had printed out some writing worksheets on “My favorite animal from the story is ____” and they wrote the name of the animal and drew in the space below. They were able to take this with them. As I went around to help we talked about their favorite animal. Next class we will be printing the footprints on the white background paper with foam animal footprint stamps I made for them, cutting out and coloring their mittens, then gluing them onto the white paper they have already stamped with animal footprints.

Helpful hints: I would say that the worksheets are a definitely good add-on to this project. Print up a variety of them. This lesson could be modified to one 45 minute class. Be sure to talk to their other teachers to be sure they haven’t already read the book. I lucked out because some had read “The Hat” which they were able to recognize hedgie.

IMG_3165 IMG_3163


Positive and Negative Space- Expanding the Square

NOTAN is a Japanese word which means “dark-light”. The word, however, means more than that. The principle of NOTAN as it relates to design is defined as the interaction between a positive (light) and a negative (dark) space.

I had my fourth grade students do an “Expansion of the Square” exercise to study the interaction of positive and negative space. One space is as important as another space to bring to the design. They are still on the drying rack but here are a couple so far…

IMG_3155 IMG_3159

Big Idea: Students will explore the relationship between positive and negative space.

Essential Question: Does a negative space have a shape?

Learning Goal: To develop promote an awareness of shape and space. Students will create an original visual image using colored construction paper that will demonstrate that all spaces within a work of art have their own unique shapes.


  • 12×12 Sheet of light colored construction paper
  • 6×6 square of black construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Visual aides, examples