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Art Lessons for Kids - Abstract Words/Abstract Art

Updated on November 9, 2010

This project helps kids with the subjective realm of creativity and it is also a great exercise in sharing!  This is a two part project, the first part is painting and the second part is collage.

The first part: Mad Lib Paintings!

This part is good to organize ahead of time for the kids. The sentence structure can vary, but this is how we chose to write ours:

The (ADJECTIVE) (NOUN) (VERB) (choose a preposition or adverb from a list) the (ADJECTIVE) (NOUN).

Examples: The yellow trumpet balanced on the fat man's head.   OR   The jagged rainbows grew in the hot desert.

To begin, I suggest passing out worksheets with examples of sentences on the paper, and go around and ask each child to name adjectives, nouns and verbs that they can think of.  Then they each make a sentence.  The sentences usually tend to be a bit surreal, which is part of the fun!  Then I collect all of the sentences, shuffle them and let each child choose one from the pile.  If they get their own, they have to put it back and choose again.

Then they each get a sheet of thick white paper that can absorb paint.  They paint their vision of their sentence onto the paper.  I usually give them about 10 minutes to do this.  Then the sheets are passed clockwise to the neighboring student.  The students then ADD to the painting that is already on the paper passed to them.  They paint their SAME sentence that they painted on the last sheet of paper.  It can vary, and they can choose to interpret it however they wish each time they paint it.  And, they can paint over the previous students work, or incorporate it into their own picture.  Then, after 10 minutes, they pass the papers down again and continue to paint their sentence, until everyone has painted their sentence onto each sheet of paper.  Then they dry.  

Keep in mind, the process of letting artwork go can be a difficult one - especially depending on the age of the child.  Make sure you tell all the kids ahead of time that they will be letting go of their artwork after 10 minutes - or you may have some challenging results among the class.  

Materials You'll Need For Step 1:

  • White Watercolor Paper  (At least 8.5" x 11")
  • Paint (tempera/poster or acrylic)
  • Paint Brushes
  • Water Cups to wash out brushes

Part 1: Wacky Sentences Turn Into Paintings

The yellow trumpet balanced on the fat man's head.
The yellow trumpet balanced on the fat man's head.
The jagged rainbows grew in the hot desert.
The jagged rainbows grew in the hot desert.
The white pillow sat under the large tree.
The white pillow sat under the large tree.
The bumpy cat slept in a blue cave.
The bumpy cat slept in a blue cave.

Part 2: Abstract Collage

This is where it gets really strange.  I like to start off by showing the kids various artists that work in abstract painting or collage.  I also talk about repeating shapes or textures that occur in abstract art and in collage art.

Place all of the dried, finished paintings in the center of the room.  Have the kids stand in a circle around them and talk about parts of each piece that interests them.  (The last time I did this project, there were and abundance of eyes and teeth in all of the paintings - everyone really liked this.)  Also, talk about the colors that they see - which compositions are the most effective, and why?  Then, ask the kids to tear up all of the paintings into small shreds.  They love this part!

After the paintings are all torn up.  Give them each a new sheet of white paper and a glue stick.  Using the shreds of paper that have various colors and textures on it, have the students assemble their own abstract works of art, placing the pieces of paper on their white paper and adjusting them around until they figure out a shape that they like.  Encourage them to make good choices for colors and overlapping.  This part of the process shouldn't be completely arbitrary, but should actually follow some kind of reasonable choices to help create a really nice looking final result.

Materials needed for Abstract Collage:

  • Scraps of shredded paintings
  • White sheet of paper (at least 8.5" x 11")
  • Glue Stick
These works look great when hung in a group.  If you have a smaller group of kids, you might want to try working on a larger scale and making a mural out of the abstract collage.

Part 2: Wacky Paintings Turn Into Abstract Collage

Abstract Collage
Abstract Collage
Abstract Collage
Abstract Collage
Abstract Collage
Abstract Collage


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    • Better Living profile image

      Better Living 5 years ago

      Thanks. I love these ideas!

    • RosWebbART profile image

      Ros Webb 6 years ago from Ireland

      wow, I am blown away with your beautifully simple yet creative ideas,I am currently teaching primary school children and your hubs have helped me tremendously . I used to teach art a long time ago, and it so nice to stop working in solitary confinement and share art with children again . thank you Laura .

    • Laura Spector profile image

      Laura Spector 7 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand

      vvsjon - Thank you!! Thanks for stopping by!

    • vvsjon profile image

      vvsjon 7 years ago from Ahmedabad

      Nice job...