As summer begins to wind down and we all prepare for the new school year, I want to begin with book recommendations that you can use as part of a study of lines. Lines makes a good way to start the school year, because lines create boundaries, and while it is most important for a teacher to establish good relationships with their students at the beginning, the next most important thing is creating boundaries to make expectations clear.
Use the concept of boundaries to begin a discussion about lines in art. How and why do we need boundaries or lines? What do they tell us? Where are lines blurry? What happens when you bend a line?
Starting with Art Parts: A Child's Introduction of the Elements of Art by Kim Bogren Owen to introduce the concept of separate elements combining to create a picture or sculpture just like classroom boundaries mix with other elements to create your classroom environment. All art uses these concepts to show its subject, but these elements are also how we make sense of the real world. We understand what something is by looking at its lines, colors, the shape that make it, texture, where it is in space in relation to us and other things, and how it makes us feel.
After reading Art Parts move your study to focus on lines by exploring the different forms lines can take. A great book to start this discussion is Lines that Wiggle by Candace Whitman and Steve Wilson. Read the book and then ask your child(ren) to go find different lines in your home or classroom. You can, also, encourage them to make lines using materials in the room, such as blocks and counting bears. To promote math concepts encourage the children to compare the length of their lines and to measure them.
Harold and The Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson and Owen Jordan and The Squiggle by Carole Lexa Schaefer are two books that promote the concept of using lines to create something.
After reading these books, offer materials in the art area, such as string and ribbons, crayons, different sizes of combs with paint, craft sticks, and pipe cleaners. Set up a table with these and encourage the children to create their own art inspired by the books. To further promote literacy, you can ask children if they have a story to tell about their artwork like Harold does in Harold and The Purple Crayon.
Read Lines (MOMA Art Basics for Kids) by Philip Yenawine. While I have not yet read this one, I am very familiar with MOMA's other books and have always found them wonderful. This book demonstrates how artists use lines in their work.
While not specifically a book for children, Andy Goldworthy's book Andy Goldworthy: A Collaboration with Nature fascinates with the amazing art he
creates with natural materials. The pieces of art show lines in their many varied forms. After looking at the art in this book, set up a loose parts exploration of lines at table using natural materials for children to make lines, such as rocks, pine cones, string, short branches, and different types of grasses.
With all of these ideas, give children the time to really explore them in depth. Start by adding one or two things and to maintain interest and promote further exploration add one or two new items every day. Next month, I will write about the concept of shapes.
For other ideas on lines and an art study, visit the Art Parts lesson plan. Art Parts has a new companion journal so that each child in a classroom can have a place to explore and create with the elements of art. This is available only on our website for free with a purchase of Art Parts or you can purchase it separately. If you purchase Art Parts or the journal separately, you will be given a code to access it on our website. The page with the journal includes art to use with a study of lines, as well as additional curriculum ideas.
As always, I hope you enjoyed this blog and look forward to your additional recommendations of books about lines.
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