For kids learning the formal elements of art is kind of like learning their ABC’s. The elements are simple little ideas, pieces that work together to make something bigger. Teaching the elements of art for kids doesn’t need to be intimidating.
Talk about art, look at art, make art, use art words. Doing these things when your kids are little will allow your kids to grow into adults than can express themselves creatively and appreciate the artwork of others. The formal elements of art aren’t actually all that formal, or difficult. Think of the formal elements of art as the parts that make up any work of art. Teaching these basic building blocks of art is a great place to start!
Let’s break down the formal elements of art for kids….
The title page is pretty self explanatory, right? You’ve got this one.Color it, add patterns, whatever fits your learning objectives for your student. All the pages in this book can be done with colored pencil, watercolor paints, markers; really whatever medium you have available.
The element of space….
Page two refers to the element of space. At this young age we’re only going to break this down into two concepts; positive space and negative space.
Positive space is the space occupied by your subject. In the example below the positive space is the space occupied by the vase. Negative space is the space around the object.
There is space for kids to draw their own simple example of the two types of space and label them as such. If you’re looking for a more in depth printable about the element of space check out this post and free printable.
The elements of line….
The element of line is easy and fun to explain to little ones because they are a language kids already speak. A line is a dot that just keeps going. Lines can be fat, thin, wavy, straight, jagged, curly, etc.
The element of color….
The element of color page defines the three primary colors, red, yellow, and blue. If your kiddo uses colored pencils or crayons to fill in the three large circles using the primary colors they will get a chance to experience mixing the secondary colors as well. There are some great hands on color mixing experiences as well as a free printable book in this post all about unique ways to teach kids about color!
The element of texture…..
Texture is one of the most fun elements of art for kids because it uses a sense they are so in touch with~ touch! (get it…) Although some artists create an “implied” texture within their artwork for the sake of simplicity we are going to talk about “actual” texture. Kids can find surfaces that illustrate a variety of textures they enjoy and use the side of a crayon to do a small rubbing on each square of the texture page.
The element of shape….
The element of shape is another element that seems so basic but is a huge component of creating thoughtful art! Making easy shapes is a no pressure way to dive into art making! The book page asks students to make shapes with no corners, as well as shapes with corners, and four corners. A discussion about the names of these shapes, or lack thereof, and the variety of possibilities will be a fun one for sure! More specific info about shape and a one page printable is available here.
The element of value….
The element of value refers to the lightness or darkness of a color. This can refer to black and all colors. There are a couple of ways that this little exercise can be completed. If your little person has enough control over a pencil they can create value scale (from light to dark) using more or less pressure on a pencil. (You can also use crayons in a similar way, but with the addition of a black crayon.)
If not (which most little ones wouldn’t) use paint! Give your child a color of their choosing plus black and white. Let them experiment making their chosen hue lighter and darker and painting their color samples on their book page.
If your student is ready for more info you might check out this one page value printable which will walk them through creating a value scale in both color and black and white through the use of paint and pen and ink.
The element of form….
The element of form refers to three dimensional objects which take up space and have volume. The easiest way to illustrate this is with some conversation about everyday objects in your house, Compare a cereal box to a piece of paper. One is a flat shape and one is a form. Compare a ball to a cut out paper in the shape of a circle. Being able to see and hold some objects which constitute “forms” make this concept much simpler for kids to understand.
This book page illustrates the difference between a square and a cube and a triangle and a pyramid. Let the kids try to make their own three dimensional form. Don’t worry if it’s not one hundred percent accurate. We’re not looking for perfection here. Were looking for understanding.
For those students that are ready for more in depth info check out this additional free printable specifically about the element of form.
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Whether you used this book to teach the formal elements of art at home, at your homeschool co-op class, or in a classroom I hope it serves your students well and sparks a discussion that continues! These little elements are building blocks for some big things!
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