Houses and buildings are common themes in children’s early representational work. As children print shapes, connect them and add to them, structures in the built environment are sure to emerge. Intentionally constructing a building or structure becomes an exciting adventure.
When constructing with shapes and lines, children develop and practice
- awareness of shape in the built environment
- observation and abstract thinking skills – seeing doors, windows and rooftops as shapes
- analytical thinking skills- recognizing and recreating structures in the built environment
- hand orientation and spatial awareness
- proper hand grip and body pressure for printing strong lines and shapes
- placement and planning skills
- constructing a variety of geometric shapes
- integrating line, shape and design elements to create a composition.
- Large line tool to begin
- Small straight line tools to add later
- 12” X 18” (30 X 46 cm) or larger paper
- One color tempera paint in squeeze bottle
- Trays of paint to share
- Paper and large straight line tool at each place
- Trays (in reserve) to hand out once children have practiced
Find a nearby building or a picture of a building in which the shapes are very clear and easy to see. Ask children to quietly study the building. Then ask, What shapes can you find?
If there happens to be a construction site nearby it is great fun to visit and draw, or just look. It helps to look with a line tool. Hand out large straight line tools and have children practice constructing with it in the air as they study parts of the construction.
Looking closely at a building by picking out and identifying the shapes is an exercise in analytical thinking and a helpful provocation for constructing one’s own structure.
Invite children to share their ideas about how and where to begin creating a building.
Use the big line stamp as a construction tool.
Practice constructing and building with shapes and lines. (no paint)
Demonstrate construction strategies as children suggest them.
You might begin constructing shapes at the bottom of your paper and then build up. You might start by creating the outline, or contour of your building.
After structures take shape, offering the small line tool invites the addition of details.
Students might like to work together, combining their buildings to make a street scene.
Street Scene in Hartford by Syncere Menzie and friends, Jumoke Academy, Hartford, CT, photo by art teacher Dawn Nolan Lombardi
By an art education student.
There are many subtle ways to encourage a child to continue an exploration. Simply changing the orientation of the paper from horizontal to vertical can open up a different way of looking at, thinking about, and working with space. Once children had completed a practice paper, they could choose a color of paper to do another print.
Once prints have dried, children enjoy revisiting their work by adding color with oil pastels. Some children will spend a great deal of time coloring, whereas others are happy with a few bright spots of color.
Pad the work area with a section of newspaper to make coloring easier. Crayons and paint also work well for adding color.
Anthony’s structure turned into a rocket ship. If you try this, lay the paper on newspaper padding to help the colors spread more easily.
This imaginary building is transformed with the addition of paint.
Noticing that children were invested in the complex structures that they had created in the block area, the teachers of these 4-5 year-olds invited the children to save a memory of their construction by making a print or a drawing.
1. Practice drawing with a capped marker to plan the sizes and placement of your shapes.
2. Start your drawing from the foundation and work up – just like you built it!