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Exploration Plan- Art Parts: A Child's Introduction to the Elements of Art

The goals of this curriculum is:

  • Everyone is an artist;

  • Artists use the elements to create their own art;

  • For children to learn relevant vocabulary; and 

  • To promote children's own creative expression.

The concepts you will explore are: 


  • Lines

    • Occur naturally and are manmade

    • Give form to objects

    • Come in various forms and sizes

    • Are every form of art

  • Color

    • Occur everywhere

    • Physicists see color as light

    • Colors change based on the lighting

    • Black and white creates shades and tones

    • Primary colors (yellow, red, and blue) make all other colors

  • Shapes

    • Shapes are mostly manmade, but can be found in nature 

    • Shapes are the outline of an object

    •  Shapes come in varied forms and sizes

  • Texture

    • Textures occur everywhere

    • Texture is how something feels when it is touched

    • There are many different texture

  • Space

    • Space is where something is in relationship to everything around it

    • It is also called perspective

    • Objects look different depending on where we are 

    • Space is everywhere

  • Emotions

    • There are many different feelings

    • Feelings have degrees (a little happy, very angry)

    • Every person and many animals have feelings

    • Feelings let us know what we like and don't like

  • Different types of art

    • Still life

    • Pointillism

    • Cubism

    • Realism

    • Impressionists

    • Sculpture

    • Collage

  • Different art mediums

    • Painting

    • Clay

    • Sculpture

    • Painting

    • Drawing

    • Photography

Art Center


Allow children to create open-ended, process art using the following materials: 


  • Drawing- Colored Pencils, Charcoal pencils, Pastels, Crayons

  • Painting-  Watercolors, Tempra, Liquid Watercolors (be sure to include white and black); various sizes of paintbrushes; Combs

  • Collage- Cut outs of various sizes of lines, cut outs of shapes, different textures of cloth, Yarn, Different types of sandpaper

  • Three-Dimensional (3D)- Clay, Craft Sticks, Pipe Cleaners

  • Extras- Scissors, various line stencils, various shape stencils, coffee filters and eye droppers, Tape, Paper, Glue


Create other invitations, such flowers in vases, fruit in bowls in center of art tables for children to paint still-lives


Have child paint with small cars to create lines.  Different sizes wheels and cars will create different sized lines. 

Art created by 4 to 5 year olds after reading The Squiggle by Carole Lexa Schaefer.

STEM Activities



  • Count number of lines that make each shape

  • Put out tape measures for kids to measure distances between objects or each other 

  • Introduce vocabulary related to shapes and perspective

  • Examine the corners of shapes to see if the angles are wide, close, or curved.


  • Various textured cloth and sandpaper

  • Freeze water in large bowl and have children melt using eyedroppers and colored salt water

  • Find the elements in nature

  • Make shape sugar cookies

  • Explore shadows

Dramatic Play 


  • Create art gallery

    • ​​Display art for sale (copies of professional artists, postcards, and children's)

    • Cash register with play money 

  • Create art museum using large box; provide cash register and tickets to get in




  • Talk about shapes of blocks

  • Make lines with blocks

  • Add images of art onto the blocks with clear contact paper

  • Create art gallery and artist's studio out of boxes to add to the buildings in your block area

Movement and Sensory


Have kids move to make various shapes and lines, can be individually and as group

Offer various textured cloth and sandpaper

Freeze water in large bowl and have children melt using eyedroppers and colored salt water



  • Read Art Parts: A Child's Introduction to the Elements of Art and use it to introduce the children to the concepts in this unit. 

  • Introduce children to vocabulary in memes on this page

  • Introduce children to different forms of art

  • Introduce children to different art mediums

  • Read art books. Click here for recommendations.

  • Help children create "My Art Books" where children draw their own illustrations of the elements, depending on age children can dictate text or write their own

  • Encourage children to explore different ways of creating and ask open-ended why, what, and how questions

Family Connections


  • Introduce elements and goals to parents in letter

  • Pick a few activities for them to do with their child at home

  • Recommend books about art and add ideas for activities to expand on the concepts

  • Recommend visits to art galleries, museums, or local artists 

  • Have parents create piece of artwork for their child at a parent meeting

  • Ask any parents who are artists to visit the classroom and demonstrate their medium. 



  • Have children take turns drawing or painting a picture together

  • Allow children to talk about what they like most and don't like about different kinds of artwork, make disagreement OK

  • Read books about feelings

  • Talk about how different artwork or colors make us feel

  • Read about the lives of artists and how their artwork represents their feelings and experiences


Last thoughts:


Plan enough time (4 to 6 weeks) for this unit so that children can really explore and engage with the materials.


This curriculum is designed for children between the ages of 3 and 6, but you can increase or decrease the complexity to make it appropriate for older and younger children. You may, also, add or subtract activities as you see fit.


I will add ideas as I think of them, and I expect you will have your own additions and adaptations based on the interests, ages, and skills of the children you serve. If you have a really great one share it my Pinterest board or with me- I will make sure you get the credit and your fellow teachers will benefit!


Additional images and ideas can be found on Art Parts' Pinterest page


If you really like this, please, share on             ,                  ,  or                      ! Thank you in advance!


These ideas meet several of the requirements of the Environment Rating Scales.


You are welcome to use and share this curriculum in whole or part with credit to Kim Bogren Owen and Words Reflected

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