I'm writing this post as I'm attending the AOE Online Conference and drinking a delicious iced cappuccino. How's that for multi-tasking?
This lesson is a new one for me this year. It is one I included in my presentation on building a printmaking curriculum for the AOE conference. For this lesson, I introduced my students to block printing using E-Z-Cut printing blocks. This material is available in several different names, and essentially replaces linoleum blocks for younger students. I used linoleum blocks in middle and high school and they required a lino cutter tool and bench hook. I remember several students who gauged fingers (and got at least a few stitches) because traditional linoleum is kind of tough to carve. E-Z-Cut is super soft and doesn't require a bench hook. It is incredibly easy to carve and makes this type of printmaking completely feasible for an upper elementary project.
The secondary idea behind this lesson was radial design. I showed my students how to sketch out a design that would work as a quarter of a radial image. We used some Celtic knots as inspiration (although some students went in their own direction) and got to work with some sketches before drawing out the finished design on a 4"x4" piece of E-Z-Cut. Students carved with a lino cutter tool (always carving away from their hand/body) and were ready to print. They drew an arrow pointing to the center of their design on the back of their printing block to make it a little easier to print the final design.
I was really impressed with the results of this project. It kept my 5th graders completely engaged even at the very end of the school year. If you teach 5th graders, you understand how impressive that is!
Click here to download my lesson plan for this project!