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Easy Art Lessons For Substitutes

by Gale Felberbaum

The prospect of preparing sub lessons for middle and high school Art classes (also known as relief lessons) can fill a teacher with dread and be perceived as more unpleasant than returning to school while sick. To solve this problem, we have provided a collection of complete one-off Art lessons that can be printed at the click of a button and Gale Felberbaumistered by any relief or substitute teacher, regardless of their background (or lack of) in Art and Design. These tasks require only basic materials and are absent of elaborate procedures, dangerous equipment and undue mess. Despite their simplicity, however, the exercises encourage students to practise valuable art-making skills and reinforce prior learning in a fun, relaxing and stress-free way.

Each lesson in this article will soon link to a substitute lesson plan template that identifies learning objectives, materials required and clear instructions (lesson plans will download as a PDF that can be printed on A4 paper – we are working on these ASAP, please bookmark this page so that you can return to it soon) as well as more detailed illustrations and student examples. One-day art lessons can also be used by students who wish to undertake extension activities on their own. It should be noted that these exercises are mostly targeted at middle school and junior high school students, as senior Art students typically continue with existing projects when substitute or relief teachers are present.

Make an origami crane and draw it , as in these examples by Sean Dooley, a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design:

Create a sculpture depicting an emotion from paper and then draw it , as in these examples by Year 12 student Jenny Ha, ACG Parnell College:

This lesson plan was created by Janet Carter as an introductory task for Year 12 Graphic Design students at ACG Parnell College. Students are provided with white A4 paper and a graphite pencil. Paper is creased, folded, ripped, rolled and torn to create tiny sculptures that each represent a chosen emotion (pain, sorrow, excitement etc). These are then drawn, including shadows, with notes about the chosen emotion. This encourages students to think about how abstract forms, shapes, lines and tone suggest meaning.

Explore negative and positive space , as in these artworks by 7th Grade students taught by Larisa Kamp, Calvert School:

Students are issued with a square of black paper, a white piece of paper, glue stick, pencil and pair of scissors. Students then design several simplified images, icons or symbols to represent a chosen theme. Half of each image is cut from the edges of the black square, with the cut out piece flipped over to complete the mirror image of each image, as shown. Once completed, all pieces are glued onto a larger sheet of paper.

Create a tessellation , as in this exercise taught to 5th Grade students by Bradley Hale, Chalker Elementary School:

This tessellation Art lesson uses drawing paper, a square or rectangular piece of cardboard, sticky tape, scissors and pencils (coloring pencils can also be used if desired). Students carefully cut a shape from one side of a square of cardboard and tape this to the opposite side (or move it around one side of a square if a rotating pattern is required). This is repeated for the remaining two sides. The cardboard stencil is traced, so that the pattern repeats across the piece of paper. Once complete, students add details, tone and/or color as desired. Combining both maths and art, this lesson explores positive and negative shapes, transformation, repetition and symmetry.

Use line and tone to create a 3D illusion , as in these examples by 15 year old artist João Carvalho:

The artwork of Brazilian student João Carvalho recently went viral on the internet and was shared by top design bloggers, helping João to gain over 44,000 Facebook followers. This makes a fun and entertaining substitute Art lesson, requiring only a piece of paper, pencil and blue pen. Students begin by sketching the outline of an object and then ruling blue horizontal lines across the piece of paper, stopping at the edge of the object, simulating the lines on a page. Contour lines are drawn curving up and over the surface of the object, with tone added to help emphasise the form of the object.

Design a building derived from organic form , as in this example by Year 11 student Rhea Maheshwari, ACG Parnell College:

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