“This is kind of like painting with a line.” Marlena, age 4
By actively standing back, observing, and recording children’s words and discoveries, teachers learn that children have unique ways of thinking and working. They also see possibilities for extending explorations.
Notice the long, straight, horizontal line that Marlena is making.
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.
Stepping back to look at and take pleasure in what has been accomplished is an important part of teaching and learning.
Photo 1: Patrick, age 4, is pleased and surprised to see that he has made a window.
Photo 2: As he finishes, the teacher holds up his paper and says, “Your window really stands out. Can you tell me more about the other lines and shapes you made?”
Photo 3: Patrick pauses for a moment and then replies, “This window is in my garage.”
Revisit and Discuss Explorations
Gather a group of children together and hold up their papers one at a time. Invite observations, discoveries and explanations. Revisiting one’s work is a way to learn and practice analytical thinking skills.
Revisiting provides opportunities to:
Reinforce basic line concepts
Use and build descriptive vocabulary
Understand children’s intentions
Generate ideas for further explorations
Questions About the Thinking Process
What do you notice? Where does your eye go first? Why?
Would you tell us a little about your line print?
Where did you start – where is the first line you printed?
What happened when you connected lines?
Did you make any discoveries?
Would you show us how you printed that letter, shape, design?
What gave you the idea?
What will you try next time?
Questions About the Basic Lines
Can you show me with your hand how you would print a –
row of vertical lines
stack of horizontal lines
Questions About Mechanics
Have you figured out how to make a clear, clean print?
What do you need to do to make a stronger print?
Where is the best place to hold your line stamp?
How much ink is enough? Too much? Too little?
The same observation and discussion skills can be used when looking at works from the rich history of art from different times and cultures.
Cesar Domela, Dutch, 1900-1992
Neo-plastic Relief No. 9, 1929
Oil on panel with overlays of painted wood, glass,
and metal elements, 22 x 18 ¼ in. (55.9 x 46.4 cm)
Courtesy of Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA
Purchased , Directors Purchase Fund, 1935
Sequence Tools & Materials
Keep the expression, “Less is more” in mind when beginning any exploration. When students have only one line stamp with which to practice, they find a great many ways to use it and notice the unique ways in which their classmates are creating and constructing with just a single line. Sequencing the addition of tools and materials when you observe that they are needed, is a simple, yet powerful way to infuse new energy into a class. It a strategy for keeping everyone engaged!
1. A group of teachers begins to explore the process of line printing. First they use the large line tool and experiment with the basic lines. The challenge is to figure out how to respect each other’s work while combining explorations.
2. When the teacher sees that papers are beginning to look full, she stops the explorers, introduces the smaller, half-size line tool, and suggests using the tool to make connections and to work inside big spaces.
Sequencing to Add Color
3. When prints are dry, oil pastels work well for filling in the small shapes hidden between lines with beautiful colors. Encourage students to repeat each color at least 3 times to unify the composition. Explorers enjoy walking around the table respectfully looking for small spaces to color in with care.
Tempera paint works well for adding color to larger areas. Encourage painters to carefully work all over the mural. Suggest a number, such as adding each color in at least 5 places before switching colors.
Each step in this process offers a chance to appreciate the ideas and work of fellow explorers, and to build classroom community through shared work.
When a child, or any person discovers that he or she can print a strong, decisive line, something important happens. It is a recognition of oneself as capable. That sense of self as competent gets reinforced through repetition. It is through repetition, with slight variations, that new avenues of expression and creation open. It is a subtle, yet powerful shift in self awareness. The goal of this program is to offer strategies to guide this creative process.
To forward the Teaching/Learning Process
Observe, listen and record children’s words and constructions as they make discoveries and insights.
Sequence the addition of line printing tools, explorations and colors.
Pose questions about the basic lines and the thinking process behind the constructions.
Revisit activities through discussion of children’s work.
Use a descriptive vocabulary in your interactions with children.
If possible, photograph students and their discoveries while they are immersed in their work.
Save memories of key experiences to display and share with children and parents.
Use the same skills to observe and discuss the natural and built environment and to appreciate works of art and architecture from different times and places.