Stepping back to look at and take pleasure in what has been accomplished is an important part of teaching and learning.

Patrick and Rita discuss his work

“I can see many squares on your paper. How did you make this one?”

To forward the teaching/learning process:

  • Observe, listen and record children’s words and constructions as they make discoveries and insights.
  • Revisit the activity through discussion of children’s work.
  • Pose questions about the basic lines and the thinking process behind the constructions.
  • Use a descriptive vocabulary in your interactions with children.
  • Save a memory of key experiences to share with children and parents.


Observe, Listen, Record

By standing back, observing , and recording children’s words and discoveries, teachers learn that children have unique ways of thinking and working.


“This is kind of like painting with a line.” Marlena, age 4

Watching Marlena print her M was when I realized that line printing could also be a powerful visual literacy tool. It was also when I realized the need for a curved line tool.


Revisiting & Looking at Art Works

Gather a group of children together and hold up their papers one at a time. Invite observations, discoveries and explanations.

Revisiting provides opportunities to:

  • Reinforce basic line concepts
  • Use and build descriptive vocabulary
  • Understand what children have discovered and learned
  • Generate ideas for further explorations

discussions with children

Now apply these same skills to looking at works of art!

Cesar Domela, Neo-plastic Relief No. 9, 1929

Cesar Domela, Dutch, 1900-1992
Neo-plastic Relief No. 9, 1929
Oil on planel with overlays of painted wood, glass,
and metal elelments, 22 x 18 ¼ in. (55.9 x 46.4 cm)
Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA
Purchased , Director;s Purchase Fund, 1935

Follow-Up Questions

Questions about mechanics

  • Have you figured out how to make a clear, clean print?
  • Where is the best place to hold your line stamp?
  • How much ink is enough? Too much? Too little?
  • How hard do you need to press?
  • Did standing up help you to make a stronger print?

Questions about the basic lines

  • Can you show me with your hand how you would print:
    • A row of vertical lines
    • A stack of horizontal lines
    • A diagonal line
    • A crossing line
    • A long line
    • A broken line
    • A zigzag line

Questions about the thinking process

  • Did anyone connect lines? What happened?
  • Did you make any discoveries while you experimented?
  • Show us how you printd that letter, shape, design… What gave you the idea?
  • What will you try next time?


“It made a shape.” Duncan, age 3

Teachers and children together can generate and enjoy using a rich, descriptive vocabulary while they explore and construct with materials. Following are other adjectives and adverbs that describe vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines:


  • up and down
  • upright
  • upstanding
  • erect
  • perpendicular
  • right angle


  • sideways
  • flat
  • lying down
  • floor
  • level
  • horizon


  • slanted
  • downhill
  • angled
  • descending
  • oblique
  • leaning
  • bent
  • tilted
  • veering
  • sloping
  • uphill

A child’s vocabulary expands rapidly during the early years. Children want and have a right to know proper words and terms so that they can use them too.