Finding shapes & lines in pictures (art class lesson 2)

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So we are in our second of our art class. For explanation of what this class is all about see first class post.

copying shapes 2

I had a few  goals for this class (which will be continued throughout many of the classes). I want the children to recognize lines and shapes in pictures and in real life. I also want them to gain confidence in being able to copy these lines and shapes from pictures and real life.

Even though there are always those kids that are the more natural artists and their efforts seem to brand them as “the artist” I learned from my extensive research that drawing and art really is a learned skill. Of course, the natural artists will produce more realistic looking artwork but, it doesn’t take away from the efforts of the regular kids and the goal is to make children confident enough to be creating art on their own.

I  use ideas from many books but, learned a lot espeically from Mona Brooks’s Monart method and I wrote some posts about how I taught kids with this method a few years ago in drawing for children post that you can check out.

Her method uses individual papers for the children to copy shapes but, I started out a bit differently . I used a white board and made different marks on it and had the children  copy them on a blank sheet of paper as seen above.

I then gave them a sheet with empty boxes and had them limit their copying of the shapes to the boxes.

copying shapes into boxes

After that I took some coloring pages out of a coloring book and small squares of pieces of the picture that I traced.

The children had to find that piece that was on their small square in the larger picture

finding pieces of picture 1

finding pieces of pictures 2

This is training them to see pictures as lines.

I think I had over planned and was a bit too ambitious as I had more group activities to do with the children. I sensed that they were ready and raring to do some hands on. I decided to jump right into the shapes part and will be going back and forth with having them recognize shapes and lines.

I directed their attention to a group of 7 pictures that I had printed out and hung up. I chose pictures that had obvious, large enough shapes in them.

group of photos

When I was preparing this activity the night before I had originally intended for them to use many colored shapes to make these collages. I realized as I sat down to cut, that they would need to use one color to get the shape idea. I chose black as it would help them concentrate the most on shape.

I then realized that I could let them add to their pictures with oil pastels which easily color over black and make for gorgeous, vibrant color.

black shapes

I also made it clear that even though they had these prepared shapes, there were separate large pieces of black paper that they could use if there was a shape they needed and did not have.

For years when we needed circles for our collages we just cut them out free hand.This time I got smart and bought a couple of  the large hole punchers. For the large circles I used the Fiskars Squeeze Punch X-Large, Round ‘n Round(much easier on the hands for large amounts of cutting)  and for the smaller ones I used one more like this EK Success Paper Shapers.

What a world of difference it was to doing it free hand.
working on collages

Since I have 3 sets of double tables for the kids to work on I just sprinkled a bunch of the shapes in the middle, told the children to choose (in their minds) which picture they wanted to create from the ones hung up and made sure they knew that there were more shapes than the ones on the tables.

The reason I told them to decide in their minds is because I am trying to train them to do their own work and not to copy each other. (it doesn’t always work).

They all got right to work.

working on collage 2

They were  told  that as soon as they were done with their gluing that they could start adding to their pictures with the oil pastels. Even though you may not be able to see it so well in the photograph, the girls who was doing the picture blow chose to copy the watermelon picture and was able to get the red and green colors extremely well onto her black watermelon pieces. (it looks very vibrant in real life)

adding oil pastels 1

The various colors lent themselves to many different depictions, on the black shapes and off of them.

adding oil pastels 2

As the girls started finishing up and I saw how gorgeous their art work was I asked them to title them for me when they showed me what they finished. I wrote what they said on an index card and taped it to their work. They did not understand why at first until I explained that all art work in museums are titled. (Not all of the work I photographed was photographed after the cards were on.)

To recap:

There were 2 watermelon pictures.

eating watermelon

watermelon on table

4 individual buses.

big yellow bus


bus with princess

going to school on bus

3 of them had a  mixture  of some of the pictures. They may have done a car and an airplane or a house and watermelon etc.

bus and house


bus and plane

bus story


1 did  the single flower, partly with the shapes and then finished up with pastels.


This one is of flowers peeking through the fence

flowers peeking thru fence

and this one is of the house (which was done from quite a distance so she only ended up doing part of the house)


I hope you think these are as gorgeous as I think they are. And I’m sure you can try this activity even if you’re not doing it in a certain sequence.

Leave a Comment:

Danya Banya says October 17, 2013

I agree – totally gorgeous! I like that you are introducing the concept of index cards – coming up with a title will give them a chance to consider their work in a different light. I wonder what names they’ll give their abstract work. 🙂

gary says October 17, 2013

Hmmm. Thats interesting, I’m not sure I would have thought of them titleing theier abstract work, but now I will

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