Plans for 11-Week Multi-Age Class on Math in Art (In Progress)

This is for a class I’ll be teaching at Raw Learning. It’s a work in progress and subject to change. I am definitely open to suggestions!

I. Numerals in Art/Spaceship Patterns– adapted from here


(The second example is from Pastel Number Design – Art & Math — Lin Altman, Cedar Creek Elementary)


  • Practice making numerals (for younger students)
  • Offer the opportunity to work with water soluble crayons
  • Explore concepts of positive/negative space and warm/cool colors
  • Practice basic computation
  • Explore repeating patterns
  • Make a simple craft

What I’ll Need:

  • Manipulatives to demonstrate addition to younger kids
  • Water soluble crayons, markers, brushes, pencils, and paper
  • Examples of numerals used by artists (e.g. Charles Demuth, Jasper Johns)
  • Paper plates (2 per student)
  • Styrofoam coffee cups (1 per student)
  • Silver acrylic paint
  • Craft jewels
  • Instant grab glue, hot glue gun or glue dots
  • Newspaper

A. After looking at some examples of numerals in art, each of us will artfully place some numbers on a page. I will offer a few examples of how to do that and suggest creating numerals that add up to a “secret number.” For example, in the picture below, the “secret number” is 24 (1 + 5 + 8 +9).


We will briefly discuss how, in the example above, warm colors are used in the foreground and cool colors in the background to create positive and negative space. I will also show them how to blend colors with water soluble crayons and create a watercolor effect using a wet brush.

B. We’ll create repeating sequences/patterns with multi-colored jewels (e.g. red jewel/green jewel/pink jewel; red jewel/green jewel/pink jewel; red jewel/green jewel/pink jewel) while creating spaceships. This activity, and the image below, is borrowed from this post on Crafts by Amanda.


II. Multiplication Circles


  • Explore skip counting/multiplication concepts
  • Explore geometric patterns behind the multiplication tables
  • Introduce geometric terms (e.g. lines, vertices, pentagons, pentagrams)

What I’ll Need:

  • Manipulatives to help younger kids understand skip counting/multiplication
  • Paper
  • A variety of supplies for drawing and coloring (e.g. pencils, pens, crayons, markers)

This lesson is based on a concept, which is used in Waldorf education, described here and here in old homeschooling posts and illustrated here:

The kids will draw skip counting patterns — I’ll model it on the white board; then they’ll color their work. They’ll discover which ones “match” (e.g. – multiplying by 2s and multiplying by 8s both create a pentagon) and make predictions based on those discoveries.


III. Fractions — adapted from this post at Nurture Creek and this idea shared on Pinterest.


  • Explore fractions/division concepts and geometric shapes
  • Create collages

What I’ll Need:

  • Patterns for paper fraction circles — templates are available here
  • Construction paper or colored card stock
  • Markers and other supplies

I will demonstrate fractions (1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/8, & 1/10), as parts of a whole and as a form of division, using fraction circles, and we will use the pieces to create collages. Students will be encouraged to create designs and patterns on their pieces then swap/mix and match to create a distinctive kind of art.

Trisha and I created the collage below using fifths of a circle. We decorated the circles then mixed up the pieces. (See Nurture Creek for other ideas on designing collages.)


IV. Number Trees/Number Flowers (Exponential Growth) — “borrowed” from this blog post

What I’ll Need: Paper, pencils, paints, brushes, sponges, scouring pads, and other art supplies.


  • Explore the concept of exponential growth
  • Practice doubling numbers
  • Offer the opportunity to use paints and experiment with different techniques.


This is an exercise in exponential growth based on doubling. The trunk of the tree is one. The child then draws two branches.  Each branch gets two smaller branches: four, and so forth. After drawing the trees (or plants with roots), we’ll paint them, experimenting with different tools (e.g. sponges, scouring pads) to achieve different textures.

V. The Fibonacci Sequence and the Golden Ratio

What I Will Need:

  • Books/other resources explaining the Fibonacci sequence
  • Paper, pencils, and a variety of art supplies
  • A collection of fall leaves to look at and sketch
  • Handouts: the golden rectangle


  • Introduce the Fibonacci sequence
  • Offer the opportunity to create nature drawings using fall leaves
  • Introduce the concept of the golden ratio

I will “borrow” this lesson, titled “Fall Foliage,” from Miss Julie’s Art Class. She offered her students these guidelines in creating their fall leaf compositions:

1. There must be either 13 or 21 leaves.
2. There must be 3 or 5 groups of overlapping leaves.
3. The number of leaves in each group must be a Fibonacci sequence number.
4. The number of veining lines on the leaves must be a Fibonacci sequence number.

After showing them the leaf drawing from Miss Julie’s post, I will talk about the guidelines and ask them to make their own Fibonacci leaf compositions. For younger kids, I might introduce simpler mathematical patterns instead (e.g. red leaf/green leaf/green leaf, red leaf/green leaf/green leaf, red leaf/green leaf/green leaf).

This post at Art Projects for Kids, titled Layered Leaf Drawing, also offers inspiration.

I will adapt this lesson to introduce the idea of the golden ratio — it includes a printable golden rectangle. They could use it to compose their own pictures or to color and decorate.


Image snitched from a post at Artchoo

VI. Bilateral (or Reflection) Symmetry

I’ll introduce 3 types of symmetry, and we’ll make symmetrical hearts, similar to this project at Pre-K and K.


I stole the image from the post at Pre-K and K.

VII. Radial (or Rotation) Symmetry


Image from

We’ll review 3 types of symmetry and we’ll create mandalas. I’ll show them examples of mandalas before inviting them to start on their own creations. I like this lesson plan from Art Lessons from Belgium — the folding method seems easy and doable. I might have them use tracing paper. This post at Rappy Art offers beautiful examples of mandalas. There are also coloring pages here.

VIII. Tesselations


I’ll introduce the work of M.C. Escher and we’ll create tessellations. I think this lesson at will work well.

IX. One-Point Perspective – TBA

X. Pyramids – TBA

XI. Zentangles – TBA

XII. Cartesian Coordinates – TBA

3 responses to “Plans for 11-Week Multi-Age Class on Math in Art (In Progress)

  1. Wow! You are AWESOME!! What a lot of work went into this! Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. What an awesome lineup of ideas you have here! I’m completely impressed by how organized you are, and I can’t wait to delve into some of the other ideas you’ve included.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s