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Robot Painting Art lesson

Robots are great fun to draw and until I saw this amazing robot lesson on John Post’s website, I never thought about painting robots. I love John’s hi-lighting and shading techniques that he incorporated into his lesson. For me, this was a perfect opportunity to teach my fourth grade students not only about shading but color value.

You’ll need a 12″ x 18″ sheet of light blue, green or purple paper, some black tempera paint and a small brush or a black waterproof pen, a tray of tempera paints (blue, black and white).

I resurrected an old handout that I have been using for a while now and encouraged the children to think about what elements a robot may have. We brainstormed lots of fun ideas and as the children called out things like rivets, wires, solar panels, I drew these things on the board.

  1. Then the kids got busy drawing their own robots with a small brush and black tempera paint (you could use a marker too).
  2. Once the drawing was completed (I emphasized large shapes), I set out a palette of tempera paints. For this lesson, I used blue, white and black tempera. I asked the students to create a grey for the main robot color, but they could mix in blue if they wanted.

3. To add hi-lights and shading, the children painted white along one side of the robot and black along the other.

4. Once the paint was dry, they outlined the robot with the Sharpie and added lots of small details. Some kids used colored pencils to color in details.

Aren’t they fabulous! Thanks John for the great lesson!

Related Links:

John Post’s art website

Robot Line Drawings




  1. They are fabulous! I will have to do this with my classes next year. Thanks.


    May 20, 2012

  2. Patty,

    I found John’s blog last year and was amazed at the level his 2nd graders were painting. I was a little taken aback at his art teaching manifesto which pretty much said that anyone who used TP rolls to make projects with wasn’t professional in his opinion. But I kept reading and found his ideas were thought provoking and interesting. I wish I had his knowledge about clay! I love your student’s take on the robots and will add this project to my “must do” list for next fall.



    May 21, 2012

    • I’ll need to go back and read his manifesto!


      May 22, 2012

      • Hi Patty, I used your robots lesson plan with G3/4 with wonderful results. Thanks. Need more of your ideas. Jan

        Jan Shilletto

        April 27, 2013

  3. Hi from Australia, great exercise for the older classes. You have inspired me to go forth with this project but with a couple of adaptions. If we succeed I will send you some photo’s 🙂

    Mrs Red

    June 13, 2012

  4. Great post! Any good children’s books to recommend with this project? I would use this for K-2 grades.


    January 24, 2013

  5. Is your handout available in one of the pdf’s in your shop?

    Karin Frazer

    May 17, 2013

    • Hi Karin,
      No, it’s only available though my Teaching Art 101 e-course. Sorry!

      Patty Palmer

      May 17, 2013

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