Monday, October 13, 2014

Overlapping Quadrilaterals (and other shapes!)

I love listening to children using academic language, and especially when that vocabulary comes from multiple disciplines. With that in mind,  I wanted these 4th grade students to work with shapes they had learned in math, and apply their knowledge in Art.
We started with a Hang Spider game where the missing word was "quadrilateral", a word from last year's state math test. I wanted to recirculate some shape vocabulary.
I demonstrated how to draw and cut some of these shapes. Students' goal was to aim for quadrilaterals, but if they ended up with other shapes, that was fine, too. We got quite a variety!!
 The first step was to fold a piece of cardstock (6" X 9") in half. They tried to visualize what the final shape would be if they drew half of it from the fold. They drew the outside lines of their shape, beginning and ending on the fold. Then they drew the inside lines of the shape and . . .
 cut on all their pencil lines. I had a few extra papers so kids could experiment.
When they had cut out a minimum of three shapes, it was time to use crayons to color patterns or designs on them.
I set a couple of parameters for the coloring phase: 1 shape had to be black and white, 1 shape had to be made of 2 complementary colors (opposites on the color wheel) and other shapes could be anything the artist liked.

When it came to gluing, which was done with Elmer's Glue All (my favorite glue) in 4 oz. bottles, I asked students to make sure that their shapes either overlapped (creating black negative spaces) or touched another shape. Our back ground was an 8 1/2 " X 11" piece of black card stock. This was another opportunity to get "good" at making little dots of glue!!!!

 Most students were very thoughtful as they decided on their composition. Part of my lesson was to emphasize negative space, angles, borders and color placement.

Here are some of our results:
 I told the boy who made the above piece that it reminded me a bit of the front of a car (the grill area). He, of course, thought that was pretty cool!

 The above piece got more and more intricate as he played around with his shapes. It was interesting to see how many children opted for symmetry.
 I had mentioned that going "off the page" was totally fine, but not too many students made that choice. This girl planned her black and white quadrilateral with that intention in mind because she colored the back of that piece with black and white stripes so that it would look planned from the back!!

Another option for this lesson is to make it sculptural. I had intended to try it out with classes but did not have the opportunity. To exercise this option, cut a strip of black card stock to glue standing up on the 9" X 12" card stock. Students color BOTH sides of their shapes and glue them (still overlapping) on the black strip.

I am hoping that these children go home and experiment with other shapes and compositions. Since it requires no special media, it might happen:)))


  1. Looks interesting to do the hollow opening for the inside of the shape. I'll give this lesson a try sometime this fall with
    a couple of levels at my schools. Thanks for the tips.

  2. These look really cool! I was thinking, as I looked at them, that it would be cool to slice an opening in the shapes so that they could not only be overlapped, but they could also linked together. What do you think?

    1. Yes! I think that would work perfectly, too. Actually, one little guy had an intricate way he wanted to glue 2 of his shapes going over and under. It made gluing a little tricky, but he figured it out. Making a slice in one of the shapes would have been a perfect solution to what he wanted to do!!! I think one of the things I like best about making art is the endless list of possibilities and alternatives open to the creative artist!!!!