In the Artroom: First Grade Lines and Color

Doodling, zentangling.  It’s all good because it’s all about the first element of art: line.

For the first part of the year, every grade level completes an assignment associated with lines and color.  I like to incorporate as many art vocabulary terms as possible (as an introduction and a refresher), and spend a lot of time concentrating on the elements and principles of design.

For the record, I love zentangle patterns.  I love doodling and Iove how accessible these zentangle ideas are on the Internet.  I copied a lot of patterns from the images on the Internet and made packets out of them for each table.  I show the students some zentangle “masterpieces” and watch my students oh and ah.


Then comes the best part for me, making the unreachable reachable. When students first look at complex line designs, they think they are incredible (and they are!) and so out of reach for their abilities.  We work on breaking down the designs into smaller parts so they may begin to understand that something that looks complicated is really not, it is just lines put together in fancy ways.  “Notice the curved line here, the straight lines here.  You all can do that!” Once they start to see how the complex can be made simple, they can start to experiment with their own creativity and gain confidence in their own artwork.


Next I have students make two large lines going diagonally across the paper.  By doing this, they make an X and divide their paper into four sections.  After that, they make patterns in each area with crayons, and then can paint with watercolors over it.

I love watercolor and crayon resist so much. It is truly magical watching the effects of the wax on the paint.


This is one of the few art activities I do alongside the children. No walking around and giving feedback on this day! At the art table, students help me with the initial design on my work. I tell them to begin working on their pieces, and then I turn on the music. I sit down (yay! finally!).  I keep quiet and do my own artwork, referring to the design sheets and charts as needed.  The children often come up to me, silently watching me work. They go back to their seats and go back to their own work.  I model this as much as possible so students can see proper artistic behavior: quietly working, concentrating on details, etc.  The main idea I tell the students during this session is that we go slow. This is such an important concept to teach young children.  In so many other areas of their school experience they are asked to go fast.  They get timed to see how fast they can read, and timed on how well they know their math facts. Again and again, in here, we go sssslllllooooowwwww.

Author: Sonia Chapman

I am an art teacher, living in the Middle East, following my passion for art, teaching little children about the finer things in life, and loving every bit of it.

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