Lower School ARt

Lower School Art is a regular part of the students' rotational schedule, occuring on every sixth day. Students focus and build upon the elements of art — line, shape, space, color, value, texture and form, and the principles of design — contrast, rhythm, unity, emphasis, pattern, movement and balance.

Students learn techniques, styles and basic art-making skills, while using a variety of media. Lessons are designed to motivate, introduce and review concepts, styles, and techniques, to teach about artists and their work, and make connections with other subjects. As students progress, activities become more complex and challenging.

First-grade art classes begin with learning classroom expectations and practice using the art room materials, knowing their locations and the responsibilities of clean up. 

Lessons include: 

Pinwheels for Peace

The entire Lower School creates pinwheels to celebrate International Peace Day on September 21. Discussion about the word peace and what it means to individuals and communities inspires the drawings on each pinwheel. 

Crazy Hair Day

Lines are the foundation of drawing. Students learn about various kinds of lines: wavy, curvy, zig- zag, straight, dashed, slow, and fast. They listen to jazz music to see how lines change when drawing and listening to music. Students draw repeating lines to create crazy hair. They finish the project with drawing faces and learning facial proportion. 


Conversation during this lesson allows students to learn about warm and cool colors and learn how to read a color wheel. Students use different amounts of water as a way to experiment with watercolors and color value.  

Gadget Printmaking

Students create an abstract print on their warm and cool watercolors. They use black paint and print with gadgets. Students have to consider how to create a complete composition and know when they need to add more detail.  

Clay Textured Bells

Students hand build a bell out of a clay slab and explore adding textures to the clay with tools such as shells, stamps, beads, and wooden dowels while also practicing clay techniques like scoring and slipping. Once fired, students apply under glaze and clear glaze. Discussions include where clay comes from and the changes that occur during the firing process. 


Students use various shape stencils to build a cityscape, tracing shapes to create buildings and houses. They use colored pencils, oil pastels, art sticks, and watercolors for the background. 

Picasso Faces

Students learn about artist Pablo Picasso by comparing his earlier art as a 15-year-old to his more famous abstract work such as the Portrait of Dora Maar. Students create Picasso-like faces and then applied contrasting colors in each section of their faces.

Monet's Water Lilies

Students visited the North Carolina Museum of Art and view some of Monet’s paintings as well as the reflecting pool outside the gallery. Students learned about Monet’s paintings in Giverny, in particular his many paintings of water lilies. Each student created a small drawing with oil pastels, using Monet's short brush strokes and a vareity of colors to create a collaborative large Water Lily drawing.

Lower School Arts Faculty

Pamela McKenney


Elizabeth South


Luke Hoffman



An independent, coeducational day school, pre-kindergarten through grade 12.
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