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Line and Shape Art Project for Elementary Students

Updated on September 30, 2012
Fall leaf line and shape project
Fall leaf line and shape project | Source
Harold and the Purple Crayon line/shape project, grades K, 1 and 2
Harold and the Purple Crayon line/shape project, grades K, 1 and 2 | Source
Leaf line/shape project done with oil pastels - the students love using pastels - grades 3, 4 and 5
Leaf line/shape project done with oil pastels - the students love using pastels - grades 3, 4 and 5 | Source
leaf templates and a sharpie to outline the leaves
leaf templates and a sharpie to outline the leaves | Source

In the fall, there are so many wonderful art projects to make with students, I truly think it is the best time of the year to be a teacher! The two projects in this hub relate to the art elements of line and shape. Elements of art quite simply are the basic units of art/design. The other art elements to be covered in future projects are: color, texture, space, form, tone/value and size.

The basic definition of a line is the mark specifying the distance between two particular points. Shapes are formed by the intersections of lines. We discuss the difference between organic and geometric shapes before the students start their projects. Examples of organic shapes include leaves, ponds, animals, natural and random shapes. Geometric shapes are based on square, triangular or circular shapes and are much more rigid. I also show the students examples of what I expect their final pieces to resemble and stress the need to always be neat in their artwork.


  1. When I teach the purple crayon line/shape project, I read Harold and the Purple crayon first to the class. I do this project with kindergarten, first and second grade. We discuss how Harold uses his imagination and makes up a story by using only his purple crayon. He never actually picks the crayon up, so it is a continuous purple line through the whole book. I tell the students I want them to tell me a story using their purple crayon, without picking it up off of the paper. They each get a sheet of white drawing paper and a purple crayon to use. I show them my example and how I colored in every other section that the lines make in solid purple. This shows the students how shapes are formed by the lines. I ask them to think about what the shapes look like and show them how some of the shapes are organic. Some shapes that are formed do come out rather geometric and the students think that is pretty amazing. The younger grades sometime need to be encouraged to color solidly and neatly.
  2. The line/shape leaf project for the older grades takes a little bit of prep work on the teacher's part, but not too much. If you can buy leaf stencils for your classroom you will not have as much preparation. I had to make my leaf stencils, and it really is not hard. I used thicker weighted stock paper and drew a couple of different shaped leaves on it. I then cut the shapes out. I like the students to be able to use different leaf shapes if they choose. I have enough stencils for each student to have at least 2 or 3 to work with. They can trade stencils if they want and share them. The students use pastels to color in their leaf shapes. I have the students do the project on white lightly toothed paper to get the best results with pastels. Students always like working with pastels, the mixing of colors is so beautiful.
  3. I have the students trace multiple leaves to cover their paper. I tell them I do not want any white left on the paper. Then, if they choose, they can outline each leaf with marker. This actually shows the element of shape best to the students. These projects always turn out wonderfully! I hope if you do try some of my project ideas with your students, you are as happy with the results. Really, every student can have great success with these projects and they are truly beautiful.

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