remember to vote

reduce reuse recycle

Line printing is an easy and effective way to create bold and clear signs and posters. It is also a great way to practice the many skills and concepts involved in letter formation and writing.

Hannah palindrome
"My name is a palindrome." Hannah, age 6

Aaron and Noah's room sign
This sign was created during a parent workshop

Learning Objectives

When designing and creating signs or posters, children practice and explore:

  • Awareness of signs and posters as means of communication and persuasion.
  • Ways to communicate a message with few words.
  • Symbols and icons
  • Proper spelling
  • Planning, spacing and layout


How can you tell if a sign or poster is effective?

Ask yourself:

  • What is the message?
  • Is the message clear? Can I read it easily?
  • Do the other art elements – lines, shapes, colors – add to or enhance the message? How?
  • If they detract from the message, ask yourself, Why?

Caution and STOP and BIKE signs

Planning the Wording

Following a discussion of effective signs and posters, challenge students to act as designers to advertise an area of the classroom or a special event.  Brainstorm words to use to get the message across. This is a good exercise to do as a class or in small groups.

  • Figure out the fewest and most effective words to use.
  • Check the spelling!
  • Practice sketching layouts.
  • Allow time for students to practice working with the line printing tools to construct the letters and words.

straight and curved line tools

Discuss the potential of the line tools by breaking down an interesting or difficult word into its components. Review techniques for printing letters.

Remember sign

Planning the Layout

Planning a sign or poster requires time and space for concentration and problem-solving. It usually takes practice working with the space allotted and the printing tools, without ink, to figure out and adjust the position, placement, and spacing of letters and words.

Olivia planning her poster

Olivia, age 8, planning the placement and spacing of her letters and words.

Save Wild Animals poster by Olivia
Olivia holding her finished poster.

Getting Started:
Practice constructing and spacing the letters (no ink) until you work out a pleasing and effective arrangement. A few minutes (and this is usually very fast!) practicing without ink saves a great deal of time, countless mistakes, and a lot of paper!

*To facilitate planning and practicing, keep paint off of the table until you have seen children practice constructing and spacing letters and words.
*Taking time to think and plan before beginning a task is a lifelong learning skill.

Practice and Print

Practice printing on newsprint or practice paper.
Printing often takes up more space than anticipated!

VOTE poster
Then take a critical look at your work with a friend.
Figure out how to improve. Print again.

improved VOTE poster

Here you see a third grader correcting the spacing and the reversal of the letter “d” on his election poster.

Offer another color for decorations and embellishments.

*In order to keep the focus on the message, the lettering and the layout, offer the second color only after the corrected printing of the words is complete.

Sixth Grade Election Posters

During the presidential election of 2004, 6th-grade teacher Tom Weiner asked his class to research both sides of an election issue, and to work in pairs to design a poster for each side. Students then brought their poster designs with them when they came to the art studio to print their posters. Lionel Claris, Tom's student teacher and a graduate student in the Teaching of Visual Arts class, guided students in printing their posters. After practicing himself, Lionel discovered that it was possible, quicker, and easier to print all the letters using only the small line tool. Watch 6th graders printing their posters (Notice that they are using only the small straight line tool).

Mural Projects

Click the link below to download a PDF featuring a Smith College student mural project that shows how Thinking with a Line cane be used to create classroom murals.