Thursday, December 31, 2015

6th Grade Radial Symmetry with Foam "Plates"

I love printmaking--especially with easy supplies that are on hand--and this project was perfect for my 6th grade students! We used foam trays from the supermarket as our "plates." The students carved them with dull pencils. 

The project is easy to do and the results are pretty fantastic (lots and "ooh's" and "ahh's" from the students!). Every student was required to create one composition on watercolor paper that had four prints on it. Students who finished quickly and/or who were motivated, could continue on to make a 16-print composition. Either way, they came out beautiful!

The same 3 1/2" printing plate was rotated and repeatedly printed four times
onto the same paper to create a radial print (drawing guide lines lightly in pencil helps to keep things straight).

Objective: Students will create a relief printing plate from foam and use printmaking ink to create a print that has a verity of lines and demonstrates radial symmetry.

Standards of Achievement: Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Carving

Subject Integration: Math

Vocab: radial, linear, symmetry, line, quadrants, print, printmaking, plate, relief, pressure, ink, brayer, construction lines, repetition, relief, styrofoam, transfer

Duration: 4 class (45 minutes each)

Additional references:
This lesson is based on a lesson from Art With Mrs. Nguyen (formally Ms. Graham). She did this project with 4th grade students, but I felt it was just right for my 6th graders as well. I also showed the students the video on Buddhist sand art Mrs. Nguyen suggests on her site, as well as some images of Spanish tiles and Islamic art.

Definitely a keeper! Enjoy!

The completed bulletin board display.  We had our final debrief in from of this display
and added the vocabulary words you see as part of the debrief.

This student created their design a little differently, but it works.

Neatly done!

Look at that detail--from a foam printing plate--AMAZING!


This design is a little off, but created a nice spiral effect.
The success rate on this project was very high for all students.

Here you can see how the 16 mini prints can be combined into
a larger composition. This student wanted to use four different inks
in their work (I hadn't thought of that!). The students are so creative!

This design is great too. Doing the 16 print compositions definitely require
more fortitude from the students, but are truly stunning when done.


  1. Thanks so much for the shout out!
    These look fantastic! :)

    1. Thank you, thank you! Love your blog--thank you so much for all you do and for sharing your love of art with us all! Take care, Mrs. P


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