Easy Color & Line Art Lesson


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 & 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.

Check out these finished projects using the element of color & line.



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  • Carol Frueh

    Love your lessons. Always beautiful and age appropriate.

  • Rina

    Hi Patty

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

  • Claudia

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

    • Patty Palmer

      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.

      • Ingrid

        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.

        • Patty Palmer

          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.

      • Elizabeth

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

        • Patty Palmer

          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.

  • Amy

    Richesons Tempera Cakes are nice

  • Christie

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

    • Patty Palmer

      Thank you!

  • Jodi Beavers

    Do you cover all of the elements with each grade level?
    Jodi Beavers

    • Patty Palmer

      Yes, I try to.

  • Tracey

    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!


    • Patty Palmer

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

  • Bipasha

    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

  • Leslie Michaels

    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!

  • Bryce

    Love this one too! Brilliant!!!

  • Donna Ray

    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

  • Christina

    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

  • Patty Palmer

    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.

  • Neko

    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.

  • Srun Hak

    It’s so cool!

  • veng vannary

    i like color lines.

  • Christy

    I love this!

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