Inspiring children one color at a time

Easy Color & Line Art Lesson

By on May 28, 2013 in 1st Grade Art Lessons, 45-minute art lessons, Color Wheels & Theory, Tempera Paint | 23 comments


I needed a quick art lesson for my last day of art with my first graders. Something fun, engaging and applicable to our unit on color and line. My Kinders did a similar line lesson at the beginning of the year with liquid tempera paint and oil pastel and it worked really well. To reduce the amount of prep, I used puck tempera paints instead of liquid tempera.

We started by jumping right into taking our line for a walk. No explanation of lines was necessary as this was the last day of art and lines had been covered extensively over the course of the year. But if you do this any other time, looking at a line chart or drawing different types of lines on the white board is not only fun but provides the basis for this lesson.

Taking a line for a walk….


On a sheet of white paper, draw a “frame” or border around the perimeter of the paper.  This is so the kids won’t paint off the edge of the paper thus reducing the need for placemats. Hey, what can I say.  It was a busy day.

Starting at one section of the border, draw a line…any old line…and see where it goes. The kids had fun with this and much to my surprise, were quite disciplined with how many lines they made.

After the lines were drawn, the kids painted the resulting shapes with any combination of colors they wanted.

I loved the variety of colors they chose. Each one different and unique to the artist. A great way to end the year.





  1. Love your lessons. Always beautiful and age appropriate.

    Carol Frueh

    May 28, 2013

  2. Hi Patty

    This sounds perfect for my last K/1 art project of this year. I love tempera cakes! Thanks for posting!


    May 28, 2013

  3. What brand of tempera cakes do u use? The ones I purchased are dull and flakey when they dry.


    May 29, 2013

    • I don’t remember the brand but they are probably Crayola or Prang. Mine are chalky too. That’s the drawback of dry tempera cakes.

      Patty Palmer

      May 29, 2013

      • Alphacolor “Biggie” cakes (square) are less chalky than the round ones I have used. If you teach the students how to gently ‘stir’ the paint to get a good consistency, they are fantastic.

        The pink and purple can stain, though. And the green is kind of an ugly Pthalo until you add a little yellow. Otherwise, I really like that brand a lot.


        May 29, 2013

        • Thanks Ingrid. I’m going to try these. I love how the cake tempera glides over the paper and for kids, it’s a really satisfying medium. But the finish is terrible! Glad to know there is another product out there.

          Patty Palmer

          May 29, 2013

      • Is there any kind of spray or top layer that can make the tempura cakes shiny and not chalky?


        June 4, 2013

        • You could use any type of craft spray or even paint mod-podge but be careful when deciding if that extra step is worth the effort. I leave it as is and allow parents to decide if they want to “finish” the piece.

          Patty Palmer

          June 5, 2013

  4. Richesons Tempera Cakes are nice


    May 30, 2013

  5. Love your photo of kids’ work. What a great burst of color to end the year!!


    June 2, 2013

  6. Patty,
    Do you cover all of the elements with each grade level?
    Jodi Beavers

    Jodi Beavers

    June 3, 2013

  7. Hi Patty,

    Have you seen the new connector watercolour paints from Faber-Castell. So you can choose your warm and cool colours, replace old pods. They are really amazing!



    June 4, 2013

    • No, I haven’t seen these. I’ll have to check them out. Thanks for the tip!

      Patty Palmer

      June 4, 2013

  8. Hi Patty,

    Loved your ideas about lines and colours. Will try with my 3 yr old daughter who can just sit and paint whole day through


    June 25, 2013

  9. I love this project! I was also reading a previous post of yours on open ended art lessons. Although I’m not a fan of open ended lessons, (or TAB) I think this qualifies as a lesson I couLd use and be passionate about. I am going to throw in a few TAB style lessons starting in the fall!

    Leslie Michaels

    July 19, 2013

  10. Love this one too! Brilliant!!!


    September 2, 2013

  11. I am the art teacher at the Bay Head Elementary School In New Jersey. When the Sandy storm hit the art room was six feet under water. Thanks to many people that donated art supplies I was able to get the art program up and running. Thank you for your wonderful web site. I used a lot of your lesson plans and they were an inspiration to many students when recourses were slim. Donna Ray

    Donna Ray

    October 8, 2013

  12. I used Tempera paint is that the same as the cakes? My paint covered up the lines maybe I’m doing it out of order. I used a black crayon and made all of my lines and then I painted but it seems like the paint just covered my lines. Help I’m doing this project tomorrow for my first graders and I thought it would be pretty straight forward. christina


    October 21, 2013

  13. If you use liquid tempera paint, the paint may be so thick that it covers the lines. Tempera cakes, like the ones shown in the post, don’t have as much coverage. Either way is no problem though. If the paint is thick and covers the lines, wait until the paint dries and then trace over all lines (or where the paint meets) with either a black oil pastel, crayon or black paint.

    Patty Palmer

    October 21, 2013

  14. Thank you so much for sharing all the wonderful artwork your students created.
    I am sharing what my students created.
    You have inspired me today!
    Thank you.


    October 12, 2014


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