Overlapping Shapes

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What You Need:

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Markers

What You Do:

The directions for this project are simple.

1) Ask children to draw a variety of overlapping shapes.

2) Then, encourage them to fill in the blanks with a variety of colors.

I distinguish between three types of shapes:  Geometric; Organic (that found in nature); and Free-form.  Some students needed to be “encouraged” to add more shapes to their pictures to balance them out.  When the drawing (done in pencil) is complete, it can be outlined in a black marker.  If you’re brave, have students just draw in a permanent black marker as it saves a step.

You can use any kind of color scheme you’d like (for example warm colors for shapes and cool colors for the background).  Or, just let the kids decide.

The only rules are:

  • Students need  to use a variety of colors.
  • Two connecting shapes can’t be the same color.
  • Each shape section has to be filled in with different colors.

Overlapping Shapes lesson plan

Some Tips:

For coloring we use markers and I ask my students to treat the marker like a paint brush.  The tip of the marker is like the tip of a brush an you can make thick and thin lines depending on how you hold the marker.

All lines in a given area are to follow the same direction.  That means that each section is treated like a canvas unto itself.

Circle and oval shapes can have circular lines but straight line shapes must have straight marker lines (and they must all follow the same direction).

Students may first outline the shape but then all subsequent lines must have the same direction.  The outlining helps students to keep within the boundaries of the shape.

I have my students point their marker tips toward the black border line when outlining the shape.

The marker lines in the background should all follow the same direction.  Either left to right or top to bottom or diagonal.  One line is colored at a time and then the next line is added.  I don’t allow students to use their markers like crayons (using a back and forth movement).

Overlapping Shapes lesson plan Overlapping Shapes lesson plan

~Dan Triplett is a retired art educator who lives in Washington State