Please Don't Eat the Artwork


Jasper Johns Inspired Collagraph Prints

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After doing this project last year it became one of my most popular projects and continues to float around Pinterest. It was originally inspired by a lesson on my county’s website and I have decided to change it up once again this year. Students began by looking at the artwork of Jasper Johns and talking about symbolism. They had to use creative strategies to brainstorm some letters and numbers that have personal symbolism to them. This was a great experience in creative thinking: fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration.

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Students built their printing plates out of cardboard, yarn, lentils, rice, and foam. 012

Printing was a very smooth experience this year and the mess was contained to the printmaking station. 028

Students used complementary colors to create 2 dual-colored prints.


While some students printed at the printing station, other students worked on a color wheel at their tables.


The printing system needed some tweaking – especially at first – but overall it has worked out well for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. Some of the changes included: getting rid of the phone books for rolling out ink (tempera paint) because they were too flimsy and ripped apart. Instead, students ended up rolling the paint directly on the surface which was covered in laminated posters. Easy clean up! The second change was switching out the construction paper for white newsprint. The details of materials came out a lot better and it was much easier to rub over the textures. The paper reallty picked up the colors and looked so cool with the two-toned prints. I am quite happy with how this project turned out and feel like my students got great exposure to printmaking as an art form.

012 (2) 013 (2) 012 (3) 013 016 (2) 015 (2) 016 005 006 007 008

016 (3) 017 018 021 (2) 019 023


The “one out of 2” or “1/2” that some of them have is because they had to label their edition. They were amazed to learn that you can print hundreds and hundreds of times using the same plate. The whole process is illustrated really nicely in this video:

The last step of the project was a scavenger hunt/critique. Each student had to collect their classmate’s “autograph” to fill up their scavenger hunt boxes. This was a great way to get students to look at and talk about each other’s art. They had so much fun visiting their classmates and discussing the reasons behind their artistic choices. Here is the Word document version of the scavenger hunt: collagraph scavenger hunt 034 (2)

This project produced my favorite rubric I have seen so far this year:

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Author: artwithmsk

Hello! My name is Ms. Katzin and I am an art teacher at an elementary school near Atlanta, Georgia. Teaching art is my passion and I love what I do!

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