Inspiring children one color at a time

Degas Dancer Art Lesson

By on Aug 22, 2013 in 3th Grade Art Lessons, Art and Literature, Chalk Pastels, Drawing Projects, Famous Artists | 12 comments

Ballerina art project

I’ve always been partial to drawing the human form. In fact, I really don’t think I’ve ever had any interest in drawing anything else. From a young age, I only drew fashion models, gymnasts, figure skaters and the occasional ballerina. But drawing the human form takes practice. Lots of it. Rarely can a child whip out a perfect human body the first time around. With this in mind, I develop all my lessons on the human form with a bit of caution. Focusing more on shapes and proportion rather than movement.

I’ve always adored Edgar Degas and his paintings of the Paris Opera House dancers. But like many of you, I wondered if I could put together a lesson that would appeal to both boys and girls. I know it’s an outdated stereotype, but I still wondered how it would work. After I studied the Dancer paintings and saw how technical they were, I knew that if I approached the dancers on a technical basis, all children could relate.

So without much focus on the ballerinas, I read Laurence Anholt’s book, Degas and the Little Dancer, which was not only an emotional read but artistically engaging (Anholt used Degas paintings as inspiration for the illustrations in the story). After the story and studying Degas’s paintings, the children (all children) were enraptured. This is the key, I think. To focus on the emotion of the dancer and the artist as well as understand how the body is really just a series of simple shapes.

My Degas Dancer Art Lesson Plan details the process and how even the boys succeeded in drawing a simple, but beautiful human form.

Degas Dancer Art Lesson

This lesson took two, 45-minute class sessions.





  1. how does this lesson go with the boys in your class?


    August 22, 2013

    • They really enjoyed it. Like I said in the post, I focused on the story and then the technique of drawing a body and using chalk.

      Patty Palmer

      August 22, 2013

    • Degas loves movement. He painted horses too. Have the boys paint horses

      Jackie may

      January 14, 2014

  2. I LOVE this! The minute I saw it earlier today, I put it on my wishlist. My two little ballerinas at home are going to be floored! :)

    Runde’s Room

    Runde's Room

    August 23, 2013

    • Oh my…these are adorable! Thank you for sharing. I already pinned the lesson to my Degas board!

      Patty Palmer

      January 5, 2014

  3. Hi Patty!
    I’m checking with Kimm to see if we’ve already purchased this lesson- I’m wondering about the 2 classes for completion- could it be done in one longer class or is there drying that needs to happen???

    jen shears

    April 16, 2014

    • You can probably do this lesson in one session but of course, it depends on how long you have. To read the book plus do the lesson required about 70 minutes for my group of 30 kids. If you have a smaller group, you can do the lesson in less time….especially if you don’t read the story.

      Patty Palmer

      April 16, 2014

  4. We used this lesson today & it was great!! The kids all seemed to enjoy it :)
    Thank you!!

    April 22, 2014

  5. Hi Patty, your website and lesson inspiration are amazing …. but I can’t seem to buy them … do you have any advice?! Thanks Jo


    January 21, 2015

    • Hi Jo,
      I just sent your comment to Neil. He’ll try and diagnose your problem.

      Patty Palmer

      January 21, 2015

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