Spaghetti Box Kids

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Kids’ Art: Fun with Circles

October 14th, 2009 · 10 Comments

There’s something satisfying about scribbling back and forth. It’s completely uninhibited expression. Beyond this gesture, one of the first formal structures that kids draw is a circle or loop. Drawing circles opens up the world of representational art. It allows kids to draw bodies and heads, the sun, trees, flowers and many other objects. Here’s an art project that helps kids practice drawing circles and also introduces the concept of open vs closed composition. It’s easy to do and looks great around the house.

You’ll Need:

– black marker (not a fine point)
– coins
– white paper
– newspaper
– tape
– crayons

There are two ways to do this art project. The first method is the easiest. It uses closed composition. Closed composition keeps objects within the borders of the paper. If you take a photograph of a vase, for instance, chances are the composition will be closed–the vase will be contained within the borders of the photograph.

Project 1 – Balloons: Closed Composition

What to do:

learning to draw circles1) Tape the four corners of a white sheet of paper to your work surface. If you’re using an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper, turn it sideways so the width is greater than the height.

2) Place five coins at varying heights on the upper half of your paper. Careful not to put any coins too close to an edge.

3) Allow your child to use a black marker and, starting at the bottom of the page, make a line traveling upwards, and then make a loop or circle around the first coin. Have your child do this without lifting the marker from the surface of the page.

The object isn’t to trace the outline of the coin, but to use it as a reference to make the loop or circle.

circle art project for kids4) Repeat step three for each of the coins.

5) Allow your child to color in the balloons using crayons (or watercolor–just keep the brush on the dry side if you are working on normal household paper, then brighten the colors by doing more than one coat).

6) Remove tape from paper. BE CAREFUL–peel tape AWAY from your paper to keep it from tearing (think of the paper’s corner as an arrow indicating which direction to peel the tape).

The second project uses open composition. Open composition does not contain objects within the borders of the paper. If you point a camera out your living room window, for instance, chances are the composition will be open–some objects, trees, etc. will be halfway off the photograph.

Project 2 – Balloons: Open Composition

What to Do:

kids circle art project1) Tape a sheet of newspaper to your work surface.

2) Tape the four corners of a sheet of paper to the middle of the newspaper. Be sure to turn the paper sideways to allow more horizontal work space.

3) Place seven coins on the sheet of paper. Three coins will be located near the middle. One will be exactly on the left border. One will be a little under the top border and one will be a little above the top border. The last one will be on the right border.

4) Allow your child to use a black marker and, starting at the bottom of the page, make a line traveling upwards, and then make a loop or circle around the first coin. If the coin is near the edge of the paper, allow your child to make part of the loop off the paper (and onto the newspaper). Have your child do this without lifting the marker from the surface of the page.

teaching open composition5) Repeat step four for each of the coins.

6) This step is optional: Now, remove the art work from the newspaper and tape it to a new sheet of newspaper. Why do this? Because it will include your child in the process. Rather than have your child “surprised” by the result, it will help her to understand the working process of open composition. How does it do this? Because she’ll see that some of the loops are only half loops before she colors them.

7) Allow your child to color in the balloons.

This art project allows kids to practice making circles or loops by using objects (coins) as a guide. To create variety in size, use different sized objects–for instance: cheerios or milk gallon lids. The project also exposes kids to the idea of open and closed composition. An advanced variation of this project is to draw the balloons freehand, without an object guide. Once your child is comfortable making freehand balloons in both open and closed composition, she’ll be ready to apply the concept of open composition to any art work.

Good luck!

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Tags: Kids’ Activities · Kids' Art Projects

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Emily // Oct 15, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    THis is a really good article. The steps are easy to follow + good visuals. I love the idea of introducing my older daughter to open composition.

  • 2 Spaghetti Box Kids // Oct 15, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Good stuff. Have fun with it. The balloons look great around the house, and when kids catch on to the idea of open composition they tend to want to apply it to everything. Good luck.

  • 3 rosebelle // Oct 21, 2009 at 4:41 am

    I had my four year old daughter tried the closed and open composition and she was confused a bit on the first try out but on the second time around (second day) she did it right and enjoyed the activity very much. Great craft activity!

  • 4 Spaghetti Box Kids // Oct 21, 2009 at 5:45 am

    That’s impressive that your four year old caught on so quick to both ways to do this project. I hope she had fun with it–that’s the most important thing.

  • 5 Ms. Joyce // Jan 14, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Just happen to stumble onto this totally accidentally, read the information, found it very interesting to teach my preschoolers.

  • 6 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jan 15, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    I’m very glad to hear it. Best of luck with your class.

  • 7 vientiedevork // Mar 10, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Well written article. Nice work!

  • 8 Spaghetti Box Kids // Mar 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Thanks for the feedback. Best of luck and lots of fun with this project.

  • 9 ms tasia // Jul 30, 2012 at 4:40 am

    Great article!
    i plan to teach it to my preschoolers :)

  • 10 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jul 30, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    ms tasia- That’s great to hear. Hope they have fun. Good luck & thanks for sharing. -AV

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