Notan is the Japanese design principle of light and dark.  The Yin and Yang symbol is probably the most recognizable example.  Before teaching art, I had never heard of Notan, but thanks to Pinterest and YouTube, I got to learn about it and then got to teach it to my third graders.

Notan paper cuttings are very peaceful and balanced.  They can be very simple or very elaborate, but they always show such a sense of balance between positive and negative space.

If I taught middle school, we would do a lot of these, cutting through paper with exacto-knives is pretty fun stuff.  The oldest grade I currently teach is grade three, and I am just not comfortable with them using exacto-knives yet.  I decided to keep it pretty simple, and we also focused on complementary colors in the process.  Some kids got the concept, others did not (they turned the pieces instead of flipping them), but the results were overall very good.


In the end, I put all of them together to make a display quilt.