Cityscape Prints

Printmaking with 4th graders involved endless steps and massive clean up – but it was so worth it! Using styrofoam, students print a cityscape on a painted piece of paper. Beware – they were quick to point out that it’s not a TRUE reflection. I didn’t have a good comeback for that one so I just stopped calling them reflective cityscapes.

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4th Grade Printed Cityscape

I got the idea for the lesson here and had to try it out. Class 1: I hooked them in with this video of the worlds weirdest buildings. After sketching a rough draft, they drew their buildings on a piece of square foam (I helped them cut off the space above their buildings).


Class 2: Now that we had our awesome city “stamp”, it was time to create the background. Using watercolors, they painted half of their paper with cool colors and the other half with warm colors.


Class 3: Printing Time! This took the most prep. I explained what all the tools and materials were and my exact expectations (how many people at a station, what do I do with my paper when I’m done, who cleans up what, etc…). I actually reinforced this by writing the steps on big index cards and passing them out to students randomly as they came in the door. When my demo was done, I asked who had what number card and they came up to the front of the class to read the steps again in order.


Early finishers – the process of printing is super short. Roll ink on your stamp and press. Then you have a bunch of kids milling around with nothing to do. I set up a big sheet of paper on the board. When kids were done with their individual prints, they could print on the “class” cityscape.



Here are some finished pieces:

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Three Cityscapes made it to the Winter Park Sidewalk Arts Festival!


Mouse Paint

One of my favorite books for introducing about color is Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. Now, there’s an abundance of resources online for using this book but the best one I’ve found is by Cassie Stephens. She has a awesome, simple tutorial for drawing mice that you can find here. And because it’s a “video” and because it’s not my voice the kids, of course,  were engrossed – like a fire alarm could have went off and they wouldn’t have budged.


After drawing the mice, I gave them a paper plate pallet and let them go to town. I love hearing the excited shouts as they blend secondary colors for the first time – “Wow! I made purrrple!” ” OMG – Ms. Shirley – Green! Come look!”

My classroom is organized by tables with colors, so another way I reinforce what we have learned that day is saying “if you sit at a primary colored table, you may line up”.


Happy painting! 🙂

Pop Art Animals

Look out! My classroom is full of dart frogs, falcons and one angry, great white shark!

Second graders have been studying endangered animals and of course we had to S.T.E.A.M it out and do some awesome animal paintings.

Students started out by sketching out their animal (I printed out a picture and if I could find it – a step by step instructional on how to draw that particular animal). This was the hardest part for them because of the constant what if it doesn’t come out right fear (we all have it, second graders are just more vocal about it).


Just starting to paint that background


Students started out by sketching their animals


After sketching out their animal, they used a ruler to create a geometric background and painted with bright, “pop-arty” colors (that’s a technical term). The final step was outlining the animal in sharpie. I gave them a worksheet that you can download here EndangeredAnimal – explaining all the steps.


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