In second grade, students’ abilities are becoming far more versatile; dexterity and motor skills can be deliberately controlled and significantly trained. Emphasis this year lies in the realization that artists’ hands can be considered one of the original machines. With that in mind, it’s important to understand that hands need exercise, and only through physical manipulation of a variety of media, ranging from paper to model magic, can those muscles be fortified and strengthened. These growing artists delve into the origin story of art beginning in the Caves of Lascaux. We explore how artists use symbols to tell stories and travel through space and time to discover just how they accomplished that feat! We study Aztec Zapotec Rugs, African Kente weaving, Indian mandalas and much more! Our travels provide us with a foundational context of how and why art was originally created. With this knowledge, students are able to create deeper meaning and deliberate intent within their creative process. More so than in previous grades, the product holds closer weight to the process as students have a firm understanding of what, why, and how they are creating.

please see the second grade gallery for more projects.

Student Work

Student Work


In this lesson, students explore the magnificent culture of Ghana, specifically the gorgeous cloth weavings. These artists were really challenged to strengthen their motor skills whilst exercising their brains -- creating patterns in weaving activates similar parts of the brain that processes computer coding information! Students learned to use codes to create patterns and were completely in charge of their designs. Additionally, we looked at how different cultures use color to convey different meanings, and with that knowledge constructed our own visual stories using colors. Absolutely spectacular!!

Student work

Student work


Second graders have traveled throughout time and space by the time we arrive in Japan to study the traditional vertical landscapes! In this lesson, we learn all about simple elegance and layering to create depth and space in our compositions. Students become expert planners as they organize their mountains. The final touch is the addition of a moon and birds—this time we use size to show distance and perspective.



In this lesson, second graders find their zen in designing mandalas inspired by designs from India and Tibet. We learn about radial symmetry and how artists use repetitive patterns to express harmony and peace. Starting only with a circular template and a few inspirational patterns, students start from the center and build intricate patterns which they fill with color upon completion. This project is done in near silence so we can reach our inner peaceful work flow and the results are exquisite!

Student work

Student work


In this lesson, students learn that various cultures including Japanese, Roman, and Navajo Natives, use vessels for a plethora of reasons. Second graders become proficient in coil pot creation using Model Magic clay. They individually choose colors to paint their small vessels, and expand their knowledge of brush care in the process. Students finish these great coil pots with a layer of Mod Podge to give it a nice glistening shine.

These particular coil pots will not serve too many functions other than decorative due to the restraints of the material, but students understand that art can be functional or decorative. Intentionality is key!

Student work

Student work


In this lesson, students expand on their color theory knowledge as warm and cool elements are introduced. We use the wet-on-wet watercolor technique to paint two separate sheets of paper -- one cool and one warm. Students then craft their own looms/warp and weft strips from their painted paper. Given the option of cutting straight, curved, or both, warp lines, students learn the basic over-under-over-under weaving pattern and produce these awesome placemats--or wall decorations. 

This project kicks off the unit on functional, or usable art. While our weaving uses paper, students learn that various cultures used many weft materials (such as yarn, thread, hay, etc) and weaving techniques to make carpets, blankets, tapestries, clothing, decorations, bags, etc. They understand art doesn't have to be solely decorative, but can serve various functions in every day life. 


In this lesson, students learn about how the first paper was made in Egyptian culture. As we don’t have the means to prep and manage reeds from the Nile, we use our imaginations to formulate our very own papyrus. After students complete their weaving, they are encouraged to write a message using hieroglyphics or design an illustration inspired by Egyptian artwork. The results are fascinating and I can’t wait to rediscover the hidden messages written in years to come!

Student Work

Student Work


After we explored some modern abstract art at the start of the year, I wanted my second graders to experience art across space and time, so we went back to the very beginning. After observing images from the famous Caves of Lascaux in France, students created their own cave art illustrations. We talked about how ordinary people and artists alike had relatively simple tools and a limited color palette, therefore we made sure to use neutral colored crayons and pastels to create our images. And keeping in mind the crudeness of tools, instead of intricate designs, we drew simple symbols from our imaginations and idea sheets. To age the paper, we painted watered down brown watercolor and then proceeded to crinkle, crumple, and rip the edges. These pieces look like stone slabs taken right from an ancient cave! 




In this lesson, second grade artists are turning their focus to a variety of art techniques in order to preview the complexity of future art projects. Beginning by learning about Paul Seurat, we use the pointillism technique to paint a seascape using warm and cool colors. Once the background is complete, these artists must channel their inner architects and illustrate a skyline either influenced by a place they know or inspired by their imaginations. The skyline sketches will then get traced onto scratch styrofoam which will serve as printing plates for the next phase of the project. Students will learn how important a delicate balance of ink and pressure is; then they will print their cityscape reflection first -- I know! What? -- yes, reflections first. Finally, they will glue the actual styrofoam plate to the warm upper sections of their backgrounds, giving the final piece a pop-out texture. 


In this lesson, students are channeling summer thoughts. Where do their imaginations bring them? To the beach? An ice cream cone? Second graders are required to draw a simple illustration that will be traced onto scratch styrofoam and printed using markers. Students were able to create multiple prints using various color schemes of their choosing. They learned that a single image can be redesigned in many ways, even by simply changing the color!


As the last project in our functional art unit, it's important to understand that functional does not always imply physical usage. Function can also mean to serve, and in this lesson's case, to inform. As Earth Day approaches, students discuss the wonder that is the third rock from the sun and create informative posters that celebrate the planet and raise awareness to how we can help keep this place awesome. Understanding that our resources are precious and we are lucky as humans to be such a plentiful species, students use creativity to educate and raise awareness about saving species that are not so plentiful--endangered--and preserve the resources that are so precious to us. 


In this color theory lesson, students learn first-hand how primary colors are mixed to create secondary colors. The second graders blend tempera paint together to solidify their understanding of color elements, and use their imaginations to illustrate animals and/or creatures.


It's important in the beginning of the year to remember that shapes are all around us. With summer still lingering and beaches on the brain, designing fish solely out of shapes and patterns became the topic of this lesson. A great way to review and reinforce knowledge of lines, shapes and pattern learned in first grade, students are allowed to get super creative as they design their underwater creatures.