Tuesday, April 16, 2013

2nd Grade Printmaking Unit: Introduction to Printmaking

My second graders have just finished up their printmaking unit and I've finally gotten around to photographing, grading and uploading all of their artwork to Artsonia!

To kick off the unit, we did a one day project that involved stamping with Legos (I've seen multiple variations of this on Pinterest...).  I took this opportunity to talk to the students about the Principles of Art.  We've talked about them here and there, one at a time, but I felt like this quick project was a great way to get students to think about the principles all together.  We talked about patterns, having balance (symmetrical and asymmetrical), movement, unity, contrast, rhythm, and emphasis.  Now, a lot of these are a little over some of the 2nd graders heads, but none the less, I think some of them really thought more about their composition.

I showed students these simple visual rubrics I made for the project and we talked about each one.  "Is it interesting to look at?  Why or why not?"

This one would be worth 3 points...

This one would be worth 2 points...

This one would be worth 1 point...

 I posted these on the bulletin board int he front of the classroom and gave the students their instructions.  Keeping in mind the principles of art, they had to create an interesting design using different sized and shaped Legos.  They would only get one color, so that had to use placement of their stamps to create an interesting factor to look at.  I gave each table a small plate of finger paint and a small variety of Legos and let them go to town!

Now, even though we spent about 15 minutes going over what makes a good composition, it seemed as if the combination of using Legos and finger paint made all the other points mute.  The outcome of this project was NOT what I had expected!  I had some students smearing their designs together after they finished with their fingers, some only used one Lego for the entire print, and many tried to make actual, representational pictures instead of non-representational like I asked for.  Next time I think I may have to tweak my instructions a bit!


  1. Sometimes natural creativity takes over and all bets are off! They look like they enjoyed printing them... :)

    1. That they did! I'm debating about doing the project again now that we've finished the printmaking unit just to see if they would have better control over the materials to follow the directions a little better...

  2. First of all, your students' work looks as though lots of learning was a-happening! We have been doing "junk" prints in 2nd grade for many years and our experience has shown us that too much "direction" from the teacher makes this painful (for all)! They LOVE printing in this way but I was pushing them and not allowing enough time for experimentation. I now give my kids a practice paper first on which they can try things freely, then we talk about "pattern" and I do a demonstration.... I often suggest that they do different pattern lines across the paper. A "Life Saver" for the art teachers in my program has been to use white or light colored paint (on dark paper) rather than dark - the mess factor is reduced significantly! I have to add Legos to our junk collection now- thanks to you!