The Elements Art Book

The Elements Art Book is a way for students to learn and demonstrate the Elements of Art as well as have a wonderful keepsake of their work. Each element is individually taught with some textbook, video and discussion work and necessary vocabulary is reviewed. Then a variety of assignment options are given to allow the student to demonstrate their understanding of the concept.

I spend the first day of the week teaching/discussing the Element and showing the kids the assignment options. I allow the kids to do these assignments in a “centers” type environment, so I have set up the needed supplies in various areas around the room. I have samples of the assignments hung up in the room as well. I hand out worksheets with the page from A Survival Kit for the Elementary/Middle School Art Teacher about the Element printed on one side and the assignment options on the other side. At each “center” I have the needed instructions (laminated), an example and the supplies. Usually the students will get what they need and go back to their seat to work. My room set up does not really have work space at the centers so this makes the most sense. Sometimes a kid or two will stay at a center to work and this is OK too, unless they prevent others from getting needed supplies or directions.

Vocabulary worksheet and notes about the Element and the finished artwork are put together in their book on facing pages. The book progresses over the entire trimester. At the end, they complete their table of contents (I have them label and save the first page in the book for this) and finish off with an “about the artist” page (label and save the last two pages for this). Each book is different and kids get to move at their own pace thru the elements.

When doing the assignments, any size paper will do, but for the purpose of the book you want to keep all work on a 9 X 12 construction paper or and 81/2 x 11 drawing paper. This way they will fit nicely on the pages of the book. I ALWAYS have the kids create their work on a separate paper which they then glue into the book. This allows for re-DOS and other mistakes without ruining the entire book. Occasionally, I will have a student to a  project on one of the 12 x18 paper size and make it a ‘centerfold’ for their book.

Making the basic handmade book.


  • 12×18 white paper for inside pages
  • 14×20 cover stock for cover
  • yarn and yarn needles
  • hammer
  • large nails
  • chunks of wood to protect table

Steps to make book:

  • We take 7 sheets of 12 x 18 plain white drawing paper. Each sheet is folded in half (separately, then put back together with folds inside each other, if they fold all at once it will not be as neat nor as sturdy).
  • Then a cover is made. I usually use large poster board or watercolor paper.. It is folded in an unusual way that allows for a closing flap and a pocket. (See diagram) The cover stock paper should be at least 20×14, but play with different sizes and thickness, based on your class needs. We have made covers without flaps and pockets, but they come in handy for holding work in progress.

  • After folding all the pages and putting them with the folded cover, we create the binding. Using hammers, a chunk of wood and some large nails, we place 5 holes down the inside center of the pages WITH the cover. This allows the pocket to be secured as well. Have the kids put a ruler down the middle and mark at 2,4,6,8 and 10 inches. This is where they make the nail holes. They do not need to hammer too hard or deep to get a basic hole.
  • Now you are ready to sew. The kids seem to have the most difficulty with this part. And I haven’t found a really good way to explain it yet. Get a piece of yarn as long as your most out stretched arms. (adjust for little kids…) and thread it in the needle. Yarn needles are large and plastic and not sharp or you can wrap masking tape tightly around the yarn end to make a needle like edge. Tie a large double knot at the end furthest away from the needle, with a tail of about 2 inches.
  • You will start at the bottom of the book and go OUT from the inside bottom hole, pull yarn all the way through until the knot rests on the inside of the pages. Then you will go back IN from the second hole, OUT from the third hole and IN from the fourth hole, then OUT from the fifth hole. Each time you go through be sure to carefully pull the yarn all the way through.
  • Now here is where it gets tricky. Loop the yarn around the top of the book back to the INSIDE, now go back OUT through the top hole that was your last hole to go through. You will now be doubling back through each hole on your way down the spine of the book. The yarn will the ‘covering’ the inner and outer binding where yarn was NOT covering from your first trip. Go in and out each hole until you get to the bottom. You should have enough to tie your needle end to your original bottom end. Add beads or cut off extra yarn.

The following pages include some examples and instructions for some of the assignments that I offer the students. The are in the order that I teach them in the class. The students also add their digital work to this book and any extra credit work they choose to create during the trimester.

Below are a variety of links to general information about the Elements.

The Element of Line Student Gallery of work for Line

The Element of Color: In this section of the book, the students are required to do a color wheel. Depending on their experience with color you may want to walk them through mixing colors  as a class. The handout that I use from A Survival Kit for the Elementary/Middle School Art Teacher, has an example of a color wheel as well as lists of cool colors, warm colors and other important color terms.  Student Gallery of work for Color

The Element of Texture Student Gallery of work for Texture

The Element of Space Student Gallery of work for Space

The Element of Value: In this section of the book, the kids are required to do a value scale. I suggest as part of the teaching of the element, to have all students do a 6 level value scale in pencil cross-hatching. Depending on their experience with value you may want to walk them through this as a class. The handout that I use from A Survival Kit for the Elementary/Middle School Art Teacher, has an example of a value scale as well as examples of cross-hatching, stippling, gradation and other shading techniques.  Student Gallery of work for Value

The Element of Shape Student Gallery of work for Shape

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