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Teaching Art in the Classroom Part Two

By Nancy Jang on October 14, 2010
  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5


All right, now you have a positive attitude and are ready to tackle teaching art to your class. Here are five art lessons for you to do in your classroom. Three times a year, our school uses Art Masters, which focuses on art history and some of the great masterpieces. So for my class, I have developed some art projects that are not covered in the program from artists that I liked.

 Photo courtesy of Microsoft Office Clipart.


Compositionabypietmondrian emptyeasel

Piet Mondrian: Geometric Shapes, Line, Color

Piet Mondrian art image courtesy of Making Art Fun.

We study vertical and horizontal lines, geometric shapes, and color. I look up his biography on Wikipedia and talk a little bit about his life and how his art evolved over the course of it.

For our class art project, we use a ruler and pencil to draw in the vertical and horizontal lines. Then the students go over the pencil lines with black Sharpie or black crayon. After that, we use watercolors to color in sections of the piece. We begin with yellow, followed by red, then blue. Finally, they can choose a few sections to color black. I try to remind them to leave some white spaces in their picture. You can see the results here. Mondrian



David Hockney: Landscapes

David Hockney art image courtesy of Millthorpe Art Department Gallery.

With the landscapes, the students use some oil pastels to draw the road, the trees, and the house. Then we use watercolors to fill in the rest of the landscape. When it's dry, the students use a black Sharpie marker or crayon to outline details in portions of their picture.




Frank Lloyd Wright: Stained Glass Windows

Image courtesy of museum.msu.edu.

Frank Lloyd Wright was an amazing artist and architect.  I found images from Google images of his work to create a PowerPoint presentation tour of some of his buildings and windows. I also talk about his life by finding information on Wikipedia.

This lesson came from the Orange County Museum of Art, done when they were hosting a Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass exhibit.

Using overhead pens and transparencies, the students create stained glass windows. We use rulers and black Vis-à-Vis pens to create a pattern on the transparency. Then using overhead transparency markers, they color on portions of their designs. Using colored Sharpie markers works as well. We tape the finished product on a black frame, back them with white paper, and then display them on our classroom window. 

Matisse,polynesia, the sky

Henri Matisse: Paper Collage Mural and Interior Still Life

Henri Matisse Polynesia, The Sky and The Goldfish images provided by henri-matisse.net.

We actually do two different projects with Matisse. We model our collaborative effort after this picture from Matisse, made when he was using paper collage. First we brainstorm ideas for a theme and names for the piece. Then we vote on it as a class. Students cut out shapes inspired by the theme and decide where to put it on the large sheet of butcher paper to create a mural.  This year, our class voted for the theme "Under the Sea." So all the kids cut out shapes based on what they thought was in the ocean. Most of the kids cut out five or so different shapes. I could have glued some dark blue pieces onto the paper before they started, but the kids voted against it.



We also create an oil pastel and watercolor crayon piece modeled after The Goldfish. I also read these two books to the kids: A Bird or Two by Bijou Le Tord and Henri Matisse Drawing with Scissors by Keesia Johnson, Jane O'Connor, and Jessie Hartland.

MatissebookMatisse drawingwithscissors


Well, I hope that I have inspired you to support arts education and teach art in your class. Join me next week as I post about character education using Inch and Miles by Coach John Wooden.  Thanks for reading!

Happy teaching,








Comments (9)

Hi Nancy, I to teach and love Art. I also find matisse's work so uplifting. Here is an art idea. Have the kids make their own Van Gogh by looking at his work, then a real landscape :)

Teresa, I have purchased a number of prints over the years, but I also have downloaded images from different museum sites and put them into a power point. I often get images from calendars when they go on sale after the 1st of January! I hope that this helps!

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Hi! Great art! Where or do you put up a print for the kids to examine? Where do you buy them?

Eva, Thanks for supporting the blog and posting a comment! Those were my samples. The kiddos that I had do the project last year didn't let me keep them. Their parents wanted to frame them. Most of the kids' artwork was very close to mine. I did mine in a rush when I was demonstrating. :)

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Maggie, Thanks for posting a comment! The kids had a really good time making the cut outs and deciding where to put them.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Mary, Thanks for your comment! I remember that in Scholastic Magazine too! Maybe we can put in a good word with Scholastic to bring it back. :)

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Nancy=What great ideas! Were those kid samples or your samples. Either way I loved seeing the translation to a real classroom project. Also loved the book connections to the Goldfish. I have that print!:)

I love how the Matisse is a collaborative project. So much comes from students deciding as a class how to accomplish things.

I love your choice of artists--great background knowledge to have at such a young age. A while back, Scholastic Instructor used to publish one famous artist each month, an inserted poster. I pulled them all and had them laminated. I don't think they do it any more--wish they did!

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