The prospect of preparing sub lessons for middle and high school Art classes (also known as relief lessons) can fill a teacher with dread and be perceived as more unpleasant than returning to school while sick. To solve this problem, we have provided a collection of complete one-off Art lessons that can be printed at the click of a button and administered by any relief or substitute teacher, regardless of their background (or lack of) in Art and Design. These tasks require only basic materials and are absent of elaborate procedures, dangerous equipment and undue mess. Despite their simplicity, however, the exercises encourage students to practise valuable art-making skills and reinforce prior learning in a fun, relaxing and stress-free way.
Each lesson in this article will soon link to a substitute lesson plan template that identifies learning objectives, materials required and clear instructions (lesson plans will download as a PDF that can be printed on A4 paper – we are working on these ASAP, please bookmark this page so that you can return to it soon) as well as more detailed illustrations and student examples. One-day art lessons can also be used by students who wish to undertake extension activities on their own. It should be noted that these exercises are mostly targeted at middle school and junior high school students, as senior Art students typically continue with existing projects when substitute or relief teachers are present.
Make an origami crane and draw it, as in these examples by Sean Dooley, a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design:
Create a sculpture depicting an emotion from paper and then draw it, as in these examples by Year 12 student Jenny Ha, ACG Parnell College:
Explore negative and positive space, as in these artworks by 7th Grade students taught by Larisa Kamp, Calvert School:
Create a tessellation, as in this exercise taught to 5th Grade students by Bradley Hale, Chalker Elementary School:
Use line and tone to create a 3D illusion, as in these examples by 15 year old artist João Carvalho:
Design a building derived from organic form, as in this example by Year 11 student Rhea Maheshwari, ACG Parnell College:
Create an interactive business card using two pieces of colored cardboard, such as this one by Tommy Perez:
Make an abstract sculpture from paper and take a photograph, as in this example by Jamie Webb-Speight, a Year 10 student from ACG Parnell College:
Use coloring sheets to learn about color and/or tone
Note: We are in the process of preparing a lot of awesome coloring worksheets that are suitable for this purpose. Please ensure that you are subscribed to our mailing list below to make sure that you will be alerted when this resource is live!
Draw an alien, as inspired by an experimental task suggested by Chris Francis, Senior Leader at St Peter’s Catholic School and teacher of Art & Photography – and this great drawing by fifteen year old Emka Klučovská from Slovakia:
Use a black pen and colored pencils to draw over a dictionary page, as inspired by the artworks of Kristy Patterson, teacher at Guymon High School:
Produce a transformation drawing, as in this example by Art and Design student Hanna:
Cut pieces from a black and white photocopy and redraw the missing pieces
Students are issued with a black and white photocopy of an appropriate image and are instructed to cut out portions and glue the remainder of the image to a sheet of drawing paper. The image may be disassembled and rearranged during this process. A pencil or black pen is used to redraw the missing portions creating a finished artwork. This may be a surrealist, imaginative exercise, where unusual or unexpected items are drawn in the missing spaces, or figures may be intentionally distorted or compressed. Alternatively, the final result may be entirely realistic.
Produce an awesome, soulful drawing of rubbish, as in this drawing by Brittany Lee, Year 10 Art student at ACG Parnell College:
Interactive drawings, inspired by the work of artist Victor Nunes:
Some of these lesson ideas are Student Art Guide originals; many others are shared by experienced art teachers from around the world (contact us here if you would like to suggest an addition for this page)!
Amiria has been an Art & Design teacher and a Curriculum Co-ordinator for seven years, responsible for the course design and assessment of student work in two high-achieving Auckland schools. She has a Bachelor of Architectural Studies, Bachelor of Architecture (First Class Honours) and a Graduate Diploma of Teaching. Amiria is a CIE Accredited Art & Design Coursework Assessor.