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How to Teach the Art Elements of Line and Movement to Kids

Teaching the elements and principles of art is valuable way to get kids to use visual language and expand their vocabulary.
children pictures image by Vladimir Kirienko from Fotolia.com

Teaching the elements and principles of art is valuable way to get kids to use visual language and expand their vocabulary. Children can learn to begin to think spatially and use analytical thinking to decipher elements in a work of art and its symbolism or meaning.

Have kids take a single sheet of drawing paper out and a pencil with an eraser. Begin asking children what a "line" is. Have them define it using their own words.

Tell children the variety of ways lines can be. Lines can be wavy, thick, thin, jagged, parallel, rough or smooth. Write this definition out so kids can see it.

Have kids draw all sorts of lines on their paper. Tell them to use their imagination and experiment.

Bring out a large reproduction of a work of art, such as a landscape. Point out to kids every place that they see lines.

Have kids sketch on a new sheet of watercolor paper a landscape of their own. Tell them to focus on creating a variety of lines to make up their landscape. Assure kids that its OK if they make mistakes because they can always go back and erase and redraw.

Discuss the word "movement" with children. Ask them to define it. Then write a definition of it on the board. An article on Education.com defines movement as repeated shapes, lines, or colors that are used in a work of art.

Bring out the landscape reproduction again. Ask kids to point out wherever they see repeated elements that suggest movement. Point out to children whatever their eyes did not catch.

Pass out a watercolor set to each child, along with two brushes and a cup filled with water. Give children paper towels so they can protect their clothing or dry off their brushes.

Instruct children to begin to paint with the watercolors, creating movement with their brush strokes and repeated colors and lines.

Things You'll Need:

  • Drawing paper
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Art reproduction of a landscape
  • Watercolor paper
  • Watercolor paint set for kids
  • Small round brush
  • Flat brush
  • Water cup
  • Paper towels


The small round brush is good for details and the flat brush is good for washes and broader strokes. Children can also share a watercolor paint set in pairs. Allow plenty of time for clean up.


  • If children are young, wearing aprons might is a good idea. Brushes need to be handled with care and rinsed out thoroughly. Instruct children not to smash their brushes against paper.
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