Making the Elements of Art Interesting

ImageA big challenge that I face every year is trying to incorporate the elements of art into an interesting and educational art lesson. I can remember sitting down in my old middle school art room (over 10 years ago) taking quizzes about the elements of art. While I have no problem fabricating tests and quizzes, I would much rather have my students learn the elements of art through experiential learning. I think that’s what art is all about! ImageAll of the students who filter through my classroom every day see this big red bulletin board in the back of the room. I’ve had it up for 3 years.  Has everyone seen and read parts off this bulletin board display? Probably. But does everyone consciously refer to the elements of art as they create artwork? Not without a little push in the right direction.

Last year, I had my middle school students transform a deck of playing cards into their elements of art. Each card had to represent an element of art (line, color, texture, shape/form, value, and space.)  Kids seemed to enjoy doing it and each middle schooler seemed to comprehend why being aware of the elements is beneficial to a creative mind.ImageI like to mix things up a bit, so this year I assigned 6th graders a pamphlet project and 7th graders a cube project. Each project was based on illustrating the elements of art.  Before diving into this project, I showed the middle schoolers my interactive powerpoint on the elements of art and they jotted some notes down in their sketchbooks. They referred to their notes while creating their projects.

Both projects were quick, 2-3 class-period projects. That includes the note-taking portion of this lesson. The main point I wanted to get across was that the elements of art are like various spices and herbs. Each time you make something, you select a few of these ingredients to focus on. You don’t want to throw EVERYTHING in because the spices will fight against each other and you will be left with something confusing, unfocused, and bland. You want to select elements of art to focus on for each project so they have the chance to stand out.

Scroll down to see how 6th and 7th graders did!

6th Grade: Elements of Art PamphletsImage


I like the fact that these pamphlets can also serve as ways to quiz yourself and other students.  I’ll have to think of some kind of trivia game involving the pamphlets. For now, they have been stapled into sketchbooks along with notes and drawings. They will serve as great resources throughout the year.

7th Grade: Elements of Art Cubes

7th graders received a paper handout that helped them design their Elements of Art cube.  Each square provided them with space to visually depict each element of art.


Check out some cubes! ImageImageImageImageImageI didn’t take as many pictures of these as I would have liked to, but you get the idea! The elements of art are a great way to get the quarter started. Tomorrow, 6th and 7th graders will be finishing the self portraits that they have been working on. Stay tuned for that post!

-Mrs. Heinlein

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