Ink, Press, Inspire

Part 4: Sample Printmaking Lessons

This four part series acts as a comprehensive guide for educators eager to explore printmaking with their students:

Here is a curated selection of printmaking lessons tailored for students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, provided by Doodles Academy Ms. Hess, and Ms. Fish (two of our blog contributors). Begin your instructional journey with the first three installments (above), then delve deeper into the curricular side of printmaking with this comprehensive collection:

All Ages

This curriculum introduces students to the art and impact of zines—a compelling publication medium for personal and societal expression. The program is structured around four main components: understanding the historical and cultural significance of zines, exploring personal and social identities through creating zines, mastering printmaking and other artistic techniques, and engaging in a zine exchange to broaden appreciation for diverse voices.

The curriculum begins with foundational exercises that underscore the potential of zines to convey identity and community. As students progress, they actively engage in the creation of their own zines, applying their printmaking and artistic skills. They explore various themes by examining contemporary zine examples and brainstorming ideas, which helps them develop personal and collective narratives. The culmination of this curriculum is a zine exchange event, which highlights the importance of communication and understanding through this unique and expressive art form.

This publication is currently in BETA, and will be released to members of our Artful Teaching Collective in May 2024 (you can sign up free here). It will become available on our website during the 2024-25 school year. 

Elementary School:

Students learn about John Audubon & scientific drawing. They choose an animal, research it, draw an accurate picture of the animal in its habitat, and then turn this into a print.

Note: A revised curriculum, maintaining the ‘Scientist/Artist’ theme but offering an alternative to using John Audubon, will be available by June 2024 for interested parties, using the same link.

Students learn about hybrid creatures in mythology, then create their own using printmaking and painting.

Middle School

Ms. Hess’s lesson for 8th graders begins with using a 4×4 grid to enhance the precision of their designs, emphasizing the importance of accuracy in creating radial prints. This approach ensures that the design elements align correctly as the print is repeated. The lesson highlights that even with small details, a single print block can be impactful, making the final print more interesting. 

Sketches and prints by 8th grader Lillian K. (2024)

High School

Ms. Fish introduces high school students to printmaking, a concept they might be vaguely familiar with through rubber stamps and children’s books. Highlighting that even older students can enjoy story time, she recommends starting with engaging children’s books like “Peek-a-Who” by Nina Laden, “In the Wild” by David Elliott, “Step Right Up” by Donna Janell Bowman, and “Millions of Cats” by Wanda Gag as enjoyable introductions to printmaking (here’s a full list).

Mrs. Shannon’s unit begins by having students recall their most memorable books from elementary school, linking those memories to the concept of illustration and its potential as a career path. After reading selected books, the class collectively decides what elements make a good children’s book. The project progresses with the class brainstorming book titles or topics, aiming to create a book to donate to a preschool. The consensus on a topic leads to each student brainstorming images for a page they will create, covering themes from the alphabet to astronomy. Students also have the option to accompany their prints with a Haiku or Limerick, integrating writing skills into their artmaking. This approach empowers students with the freedom to express their creativity in both writing and art.

By Mrs. Shannon Fish, Lancaster High School, Ohio, 9-12 and College Credit Plus;

Mrs. Hess, St. Francis of Assisi School; Triangle, VA; PreK-8th grade Art;

Dr. Debi Bober, Cubberley TK-8, LBUSD, Long Beach, CA, TK-8 Art Specialist;

Mrs. Anderson, Hardin Valley Academy & Knoxville Museum of Art Knoxville, Tennessee; Pre-K-8

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