Crafts and Learning Activities
Elements of Design - Shape


Including: Printmaking Techniques, Children's Books About Shape


Printmaking - Experiment with Positive and Negative Shapes

printmaking diagram 3Printmaking is the process of making prints from a block or plate that has been carved with a design. The artist makes a master plate by carving an image into block of wood or other material such as linoleum, Styrofoam, metal cardboard, or stone. To make prints from the master plate the artist applies ink or paint to the surface of the plate then pressing a piece of paper or other material onto the plate, and then pulls the paper or material away from the plate. Many prints can be made from one master plate by performing the process over and over. The first prints made from the master plate are called proofs.

In this project we will be printing the "negative shapes" formed from the positive shapes that were pressed into the Styrofoam plate. To print positive shapes the artist would have to remove all the material around the shapes instead of pressing down on the shapes (which is like removing the material from the plate)

What you will need: Styrofoam plates, scissors, water-based marker, 3-inch roller with paint tray (You can buy these from a hardware store for less than $2.00, newspaper, thick acrylic paint, and a sharp object.

What to do:

1. To make your "master plate" cut off the curved edge of the Styrofoam plate so that you have a flat round circle.

2. Use a marker to lightly draw shapes, symbols, and lines on the plate. If you mess up the lines, you can erase them by wiping them off with a paper towel.

3. When you are finished drawing your design use a sharp object to press down on the lines and indent the Styrofoam.

4. Place your "master plate" on some newspaper. Squeeze some acrylic paint into the paint tray and then roll your paint roller up and back over the paint until the roller is evenly covered with paint.

5. Roll the paint roller over the "master plate" until it is covered evenly with paint.

6. To make an artist's proof place a piece of paper over the "master plate" and gently rub over the top of the paper. Peel the paper away from the plate and set it aside. If the proof looks good, you are ready to make your prints. This would be a great project to make a set of Christmas cards or other types of cards.

7. Experiment with different colors of paper and paint, or use a combination of different colors of paint. Once your prints have dried you can add words or other colors to them.

printmaking diagram1 printmaking diagram 2

©2012, Digital by Design, Inc. -See Copyright Information


"Beautiful Oops!" by Barney Salzberg

This adorable pop-up, lift-the-flap book is filled with surprises. A torn paper turns into an alligator's mouth, a spill turns into an elephant and a bent page into a penguin's head. This is a great book for children who are perfectionist; it will teach them that even mistakes can be made into something useful. They will actually be excited about the possibilities when they make a mistake.

1. Let your imagination run wild and experiment with your own oops, blobs, torn paper, folded paper, and spills to see what new creations you can come up with.

"Perfect Square" by Michael Hall

It was a perfect square. It had four matching corners and four equal sides. And it was perfectly happy. Throughout the week it was cut into pieces, torn into scraps, shredded in strips, shattered, snipped into ribbons, and crumpled and ripped, and wrinkled to make all kinds of new things. But on Sunday nothing happened and the square's four equal sides became confining, the four corners were rigid and cramped so the square drew a cross on itself and made itself into a window!

This is a great book to use as an introduction to shapes. Have your children cut up, shred, snip, and tear square shapes and make them into new shapes.


"My Heart Is Like a Zoo" by Michael Hall

My Heart is Like a Zoomy heart is like a zoo

My Heart Is Like a ZooMy heart is like a zoo

All the animals in this book are made with heart shapes. With simple text it discribes each animal with different emotions that come from the heart: a hopeful as a hungry heron, a silly as a seal, an eager as a beaver, and a steady as a yak.

Have your children use hearts to make their own animals.


"Not a Box" by Antoinette Portis

Not a Box

Not a Box

Drawn with minimal lines but still amazingly effective this adorable story shows how one imaginative little bunny can turn a simple box into whatever pleases him. Use this story to prick your imagination. Help your children build things with boxes. They're so much fun!

See the story "Not a Box" on YouTube.

Don't miss this Amazing Video about an imaginative boy, Caine, who builds his own arcade using boxes!


"When a Line Bends . . . A Shape Begins" by James Kaczman

When a Line Bends . . A Shape Begins

When a Line Bends . . . A Shape Begins

A line is a jump rope, black ants in a row, a tug-or-war game and a violin bow . . Yes, a line is fine, but when a line swerves, when a line bends, watch what can happen . . . a shape begins!

Kaczman describes different shapes and where they are found.


Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals

Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals

Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals

Children learn how to draw animals using triangles, circles, and squares, and the letters, Y, J, L, C, D, S, V, W, M, and U.

Ed Emberley many other books on how to draw including: Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Trucks and Trains, Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Weirdos (Ed Emberley Drawing Books), Ed Emberley's Drawing Book: Make a World, Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Faces)

Your children will enjoy making their own pictures out of these simple shapes.


Ed Emberley's Picture Pie

Ed Emberley's Picture Pie (Ed Emberley Drawing Books)

Ed Emberley's Picture Pie (Ed Emberley Drawing Books)

Ed Emberley shows how to cut a circle into shapes that can be put together to make more complex shapes.

Have your children make their own book using these simple shapes.


Ed Emberley's Picture Pie Two

picture piePicture Pie

Ed Emberley's Picture Pie TwoPicture Pie

Ed Emberley's Picture Pie Two uses two shapes, the square and circle, to make more complex shapes with directions on how to make a menagerie of animals and other images. The book also includes a stencil to help children draw the shapes and lines.


Christian Home School Art Lessons

Artistic Design and the Great Designer

Art Lessons on The Elements and Principles of Design from
a Biblical Perspective

Free Christian Art Lessons on the Elements of Design - Elements of Design and The Great Designer Free Christian Art Lessons on the Elements of Design - Elements of Design and The Great Designer

Fun art projects for all ages. The lessons are adaptable to all ages and abilities.

file folder easelBiblical concepts that go along with each element of design.

Children learn artistic techniques, experiment with different artistic media, read books relating to each element, and learn about famous artists and art movements.

Each lesson comes with printable patterns that are displayed in a file folder that folds out to become an easel on which your children's art can be displayed.

Subjects Covered:

Point and Dot - "What’s the Point?" - Free Sample Lesson

dot at Bible Verse PictureBible Verse: "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Eph. 2:10

Teaching Concept: A point is a location, and a dot is a mark at a certain point. Dots are the building blocks of all the other elements. Dots give meaning to a canvas. They provide points of focused attention and reference points. When God created us he put a "dot" in our hearts, a conscious, and knowledge of him. He gives us a reason for living.

Artists and Artistic Techniques: Pointillism, George Seurat, and Aboriginal Dot Painting


Line – "Which Path do You Choose?"

line activity sheetBible Verse: "Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways." Pr. 4:26

Teaching Concept: A line is a path between two points. Lines can have many different characteristics. They can be straight, curved, fat, or skinny. The Bible talks a lot about the paths we take, referring to the decisions we make and the consequences of those decisions. According to the Bible there are two paths we can pick; the right one and the wrong one. The right path leads to life, the wrong one lead to death.

Artists and Artistic Techniques: Wassily Kandinsky's crayon drawing, Paul Klee, symbolism in art, Aboriginal Artist Ronnie Tjampitjinpa's line and symbol paintings, illustrator and author Ed Emberley and thumbprint art, and illustrator author Patrick McDonnell


Shape - "It's Your Choice"

Bible Verse:"Choose you this day whom ye will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.: Joshua 24:15, KJV

Teaching Concept: You are a lot like an artist. Every choice an artist makes about the shapes on his canvas affects the outcome of his work. God has given you the freedom to choose how you will live your life. Every choice you make has consequences and determines how your life is shaped.

Artists and Artistic Techniques:

Jean Arp's Collage Arranged According to the Laws of Chance, organic and abstract shapes, Printmaking techniques - positive and negative shapes.

Color - "How Do You Feel?"

Bible Verse: "For we walk by faith, not by sight:" 2 Corinthians 5:7, KJV

Teaching Concept: People are very much affected by the colors and combinations of colors they see in a work of art. A good artist uses color and other elements and principles of design to create a piece that conveys his feelings and elicits strong emotions from the viewer.

As a Christian we are to walk by faith, not by what we see because what we see is not always what we can depend on. We live in the physical world, but must also consider the spiritual, the unseen world. Things may look bleak and out of control, but we can know that God is always in control when we put our faith in him.

Artists and Artistic Techniques:

Georgia O'Keefe, Claude Monet, Impressionism, and color theory.

Value – "Light or Dark?"

Bible Verses: "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)

Teaching Concept: The artist's use of value in an image can determine its success or failure. Value, the lightness or darkness of a color, is used to create a mood, focal points, and movement. Values can also be used in art to symbolize spiritual concepts. The Bible uses light and darkness to symbolize life and death. Like artists, we must decide what values are important. We must decide if we want to walk in darkness or follow Jesus and have the light of life. Our decisions will determine our success or failure.

Artists and Artistic Techniques: Rembrandt, chiaroscuro drawing, Identifying values using a grayscale ruler, high contrast and low contrast images, using dots for shading, and silhouettes.

©2012, Digital by Design, Inc. -See Copyright Information


Elements of Design Crafts and Learning Activities

Elements of Design - Point and Dot

Elements of Design - Line

Elements of Design - Shape

Elements of Design - Color

Elements of Design - Value



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