Steps to create your own art lessons by Deep Space Sparkle

Create Your Own Art Lessons the SPARKLE way! Part III

Steps to create your own art lessons by Deep Space Sparkle

Developing art lessons can be overwhelming. Sure, you can use old stand-bys, fellow blogger lessons or source a few from art books. It’s what I’ve done and still do. But if you’re wondering how to go about creating your own art projects, my SPARKLE method of developing your own art lessons might come in handy.

I’ve already wrote about Sourcing and Products, Assessment and Research and today I will write about Kid Appeal and Lingo.

The Sparkle Method of Lesson Development





K-Kid Appeal


E-Elements of Art


Kid Appeal

I get many questions from parents asking about my curriculum, especially whether or not I teach The Masters. While I do have my favorite projects inspired by Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, and Rouault, I tend to favor the introduction of contemporary art in the form of current pop culture, illustrators and slightly less know artists like Fred Babb or Keith Haring.

Studying famous artists is a huge component of elementary art, but so is teaching technique and that is what I tend to focus on. Now, as far as techniques go, there are only so many. What varies is the subject matter. Choosing the subject or project inspiration can sometimes be hard.

I always ask myself this one question: What are elementary school kids most excited about?

I know upper grade girls are gaga over their pets…so some type of animal painting is always a hit. Boys love to animate. They really get into perspective and animation techniques. They also love reptiles. My watercolor chameleons are always a big hit with them.

Brainstorm for Lesson Ideas

When brainstorming new lessons, look to kid’s magazines (your public library has tons) for inspiration. Often, these magazines will have articles from kids on subjects you might never have thought about. One recent article on whales inspired my whale lesson for 4th grade.  So think beyond Renoir and Degas and seek current inspirations that will inspire and excite your students!


The opportunity for language enrichment in art class is endless: armature, bisque, brayer, form, contour, medium, repetition, composition, kiln, etc. Big words for little ones but don’t hold back. I love to bathe my demonstrations with colorful descriptions and terminology. Kids love learning big words especially if they can “experience” them.

With every lesson I design, I try to have at least three art terms to speak about. I don’t worry too much about standards, feeling that almost every art project I do contains multiple skills, but I do think seriously about how the child benefits from the project. Sometimes thinking too clinically about a lesson causes the little ones to lose interest. Afterall, this is art class not language or math. Have fun and don’t be afraid to say it!

Improve Your Delivery

Sometimes though, despite our intentions, it can be hard to speak with enthusiasm or exuberance. Perhaps it’s hard to keep the kid’s attention. I have a strange little tip that might help you think about your “job” a little differently.

Watch a cooking show. Seriously. Any cooking show on The Food Network shares similar attributes: teaching cooking in the most effective way using a personal point of view. I love Nigella Lawson. Her recipes threaten to add ten pounds to my frame but I watch her for her style. She always uses strong verbs and adjectives. I pay attention. She draws me in. She makes food colorful, vibrant and alive and I want to make everything she prepares. That’s how you want your students to view you! So take a tip from the pros and learn how they deliver a lesson.

Missed the series?

#1: Sourcing and Products

#2: Assessment and Research

#3: Kid-Appeal and Lingo

#4: Element of Arts

New to teaching art in the classroom? Download my free classroom art teachers toolkit by clicking the yellow box below!

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  • HipWaldorf

    Patty I love visiting your blog! Amazingly you have synthesized and "Sparkled" a philosophy of art education for elementary teachers that is fun! Bravo! You might enjoy a book I serendipitiously read this summer from Howard Gardners group 'Project Zero' at Harvard, they study "Multiple Intelligences". It is called "Studio Thinking" by Hetland…I read it to support my philosophy and teaching methods for recertification. Spot-on back-up for our work in the art classroom. Thank you for taking your time to write this blog.

  • Patty Palmer

    Thanks for your comments and the book rec. I'll certainly check it out!

  • Janie B

    Great ideas. I enjoy your sharing with us. This is only my 3rd year as art teacher (I taught 3rd grade for 13 years before that), so I'm always glad for new ideas.

  • Mrs. Argueta

    So much good info here. I love the samples. I am planning to incorporate some Babb'esque pieces this year. Thanks for sharing!

  • Hope Chella


    Last spring I emailed you about some elementary art stuff….NOW I AM TEACHING HIGH SCHOOL ART. I can't believe it…and am finding that there is a LACK OF HIGH SCHOOL ART RESOURCES on the web…I might give it a go, thanks to you. You are truly a renaissance woman in the art education world.

    Thanks Again,
    Hope xoxooxoxoxo

  • Patty Palmer

    Wow. High School! I'd think it would be amazing to work with teens…they have such a zest! Good luck!

  • Hope Chella

    Thanks Patty!

    I found out 2 weeks before school started and STILL look like a high schooler, so it's been interesting. But now I have my own art rooms and access to a kiln =)

    It's time to stop asking students to raise their hands and get in a line though 😉 Doesn't go very well with the big kids! OOPS!!! 2 days in and I am starting to get the lingo…

    I can still do after school with elementary though!

    Have fun,
    Hope xoxoxo

  • Cheryl Hancock

    I just received my copy of the Fred Babb posters- found a cheap one on Ebay and although it was falling apart it was in great condition- now to get them up to inspire

  • Mrs. Kim

    I love your lingo collage 🙂 How did you make that?! I love all the different fonts!

  • Patty Palmer

    Hi Mrs. Kim,
    I used photoshop to add in the words after scanning a watercolor painting I did last summer. Thanks for asking…I kind of like it too!

    • Rebecca Stees

      I giggled when you mentioned Nigella Lawson.

      Secretly, I’ve suggested to my student teachers that they watch dog training shows to understand classroom management.

      I particularly like “It’s Me or the Dog” with Victoria Stilwell (youtube or Animal Planet)
      it really illustrates having consistent boundaries and being the alpha of the pack.
      A kind but authoritative voice takes practice for new teachers…..
      and of course, there is mastering the look with one eyebrow ever so slightly raised to show you mean business! lol


      When the kids line up at the door to leave, i quiz them on the last art vocab word that I taught them the week before and also teach them a new one.

      If time allows or the teacher is late, we have a contest to see who can remember all the terms.

      That way I’m sure I’ve got my bases covered.

      I might then do a challenge each quarter to see who can first name all vocab words and then define them.

      In our hall displays, we always label the art with the standards, terms, principles, ect. (with post-its)

      I also turn illustrating design principles into an art project.
      For example, make a painting that shows, balance, harmony or rhythm, ect.

      • Patty

        Oh, I’m definitely going to look up the dog video. I LOVE the whole quiz idea. What a great way to keep the kiddo’s engaged even as they leave. Super tip of the day!

    • Rebecca Stees

      FYI, I think your watercolor poster is so pretty you chould sell them…….
      Maybe on Cafe Press or as a download.

      • Patty

        Thanks Rebecca! I like it too. Maybe a free download is coming soon! Thanks for the encouragement!

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