About the Creator

Cathy Weisman TopalCathy Weisman Topal began her career as a middle school art teacher in Newton, MA. For over thirty years she has been a lecturer in Visual Arts Education in the Department of Education and Child Study at Smith College in Northampton, MA, as well as a studio art teacher at the Smith College Campus School, an elementary laboratory school for Smith College, and at the Center for Early Childhood Education (CECE), also at Smith College.

Cathy is the author of six books that have grown from her explorations and exchanges with children, classroom teachers, visual arts educators, and in-service and pre-service teachers. Cathy lectures nationally and internationally and conducts a variety of professional development workshops. Current research interests include the centrality of the arts in education, the wonder of clay, design education, the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education, the work of Fredrich Froebel, and recycling and the arts. Inquiries about presentations and workshops can be sent to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About Thinking with a Line

davidWhat began as a basic way to engage young children in the process of printmaking, opened up an effective way to explore, create, reflect, problem-solve, invent and construct with readily available materials. It opened up a very basic way to think with materials for explorers of any age.



What is Thinking With A Line?

This website introduces a new art and literacy tool – the line stamp, and the basic process of printmaking. The Thinking and Creating with a Line website demonstrates ways to introduce, guide, and extend a variety of projects about line - the most basic of all art elements and a vital pre-reading, writing and construction tool. My purpose in creating Thinking With A Line is to help teachers feel comfortable with studio art materials, to see that powerful learning takes place when children are engaged in exploring and creating with art materials and processes, and to demonstrate a variety of strategies for using materials to foster, extend and deepen understanding in a great many content areas. Short video clips throughout bring the process to life! They show teachers and children at key moments of teaching and learning, so that you can think about how this might work in your setting with your particular group of students.

Basic Concept

yolandas grandsonThinking with a Line shows you how the edge of a small rectangle of cardboard dipped into paint can become a tool for making lines. By repeating a single line, children discover they can print vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines. They also discover ways to extend, cross and space their lines. They find when lines connect they can form shapes. By combining lines and shapes children begin creating complex structures such as letters, alphabets, patterns and designs, trees and plants, buildings, boats, machines and vehicles. Even young children begin to construct with intention. Projects and themes emerge naturally, and teachers recognize how the skills developed here can enhance curriculum goals in all subject areas.

Why Line Printing?

Marlena line-printing an MChildren using the process of line printing often form constructions that they might not be able to draw or write, or might not consider drawing or writing. Children just entering the stage of representational drawing sometimes make a huge leap when offered line printing as a tool for composing pictures, letters and designs. Those individuals struggling with fine motor skills will find a new fluent means of expression and construction. Though it may be difficult for children to draw straight lines, they can easily master the process of line printing. The ability to make a series of marks and control their placement not only precedes but is also essential to drawing, reading and writing.

More on Line Printing

Teachers of children in enrichment and after-school programs will find that the many content areas offer interesting ways to make after school learning intriguing and challenging.

marcus makes snowLine printing helps children construct their understandings about the human skeleton, architecture, the hexagonal structure of snowflakes, the branching structures of trees, elements of an effective sign or poster, and much more. Line printing experiences provide opportunities for children to build confidence in their creative abilities.


"If I can do it, you can do it." (Marcus, age 8)