GREETINGS! – Stencil Print, Space, Shape

Students design their own hand-printed greeting cards using marker with water and simple stencils made out of clear acetate.

Required Time

60 Minutes

Grade Level

Kindergarten to Grade 6


Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts



Crayola Markers Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") - 1 piece per student Clear Acetate - about 7.6 cm x 7.6 cm (3" x 3") - 1 per student Small Sponges - about 2.5 cm x 2.5 cm (1" x 1") - 1 per student Water Containers Paper Towels Painters Masking Tape Plastic Placemats - 1 per student

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GREETINGS! – Stencil Print, Space, Shape - Step One

Step One

  1. Fold the paper in half short end to short end.
  2. Make a good crisp fold.
  3. Carefully tape the folded paper to a plastic placemat or piece of firm cardboard.
  4. The tape will leave a white border around your design once it is removed.
GREETINGS! – Stencil Print, Space, Shape - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Use a white crayon to draw some small shapes such as spirals on part of the paper.
  2. Draw a shape on a small piece of acetate.
  3. Cut it out.
GREETINGS! – Stencil Print, Space, Shape - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Place the plastic shape on your paper and hold it firmly in place.
  2. Draw some marker on the shape.
  3. Dip a small sponge into the water to get it wet.
  4. Squeeze out most of the water.
GREETINGS! – Stencil Print, Space, Shape - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Drag the damp sponge over the inked shape and onto the paper.
  2. The water will make the marker ink flow onto your paper.
  3. Remove the plastic shape to see your stencil print.
  4. Repeat with other colours.
  5. Overlap the shapes until you fill the paper.
GREETINGS! – Stencil Print, Space, Shape - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Gently remove the tape.
  2. Notice the white border.
  3. Notice how the colours mix together in some places.
  4. Notice how the white crayon shows through the ink.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a greeting card using a stencil and marker ink;
  • cut out an appropriate shape for the purpose of their card;
  • use repetition of shape and colour to create random rhythm;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.


Have students:

  • work with another class to teach their peers how to make stencil prints;
  • use the Stencil a Poem lesson plan available on this website to illustrate a poem they have written;
  • share their work with others. 


  1. Download and display the Space, Shape, Rhythm and Pattern posters available on this website.
  2. Introduce/review some characteristics of shape, space and rhythm. 
    - rhythm - the repeated use of similar elements, but with variations, to create a sense of movement - random rhythm is the repetition of a motif in no particular order
    - shape - a 2-dimensional figure or object - a positive shape is the object, a negative shape is the space around the object
    - space - overlapping objects block out other objects
  3. Gather and make available picture books about shape and pattern, for example, The Shape of Things, by Dayle Ann Dodds; The Greedy Triangle, by Marilyn Burns; Math Counts: Shape, by Henry Arthur Pluckrose; Math Counts: Pattern, by Henry Arthur Pluckrose; and Shapes Board Book, by Judith Nouvion.
  4. Cut clear acetate such as overhead transparencies (the 'write on' type) into pieces about 7 cm x 7 cm - 1 per student.
  5. You may want to provide suitable tracer shapes for students, e.g., stars, bells, angels for Christmas; trees, leaves, for Earth Day; and hearts, flowers for Valentine's Day.
  6. Prepare a demonstration sample.


  1. Discuss card giving in general.
    - Why and when do we send/give cards?
    - How do we choose the cards we give?
    - What are some of their favourite kinds of cards?
    - How have cards changed with technology?
  2. Brainstorm reasons to make and send their own cards, focusing on people they would want to send a special card to and why.
  3. Discuss the use of shape to make a suitable design for a special card.
    - focus on the purpose or theme of the card, and what an appropriate shape would be
  4. Introduce the challenge



The Challenge

  1. Create a greeting card using a stencil and marker ink.
  2. Cut out an appropriate shape for the purpose of your card.
  3. Use repetition of shape and colour to create random rhythm.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.

The Process

  1. Ensure that everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when my design has:
    - repeated shapes
    - random rhythm
    - colour that is bright and strong

    - contrasting colours 
    - overlapping shapes
    - crisp white borders 
    - paper in good condition
  3. Demonstrate the technique as you guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work.
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students into groups of about 6.
  2. Ask them to share thoughts about the works.
  3. During the discussion include references to: 
    Colour – How does the colour create contrast and movement?
    - Shape – How does the shape reflect the theme of the card? 
    - Rhythm - How does the placement of shapes create random rhythm?
    - Technical Accomplishment – How does attention to detail contribute to the overall effect of the design?
  4. Ask volunteers to share some ideas with the whole class.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their cards – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, holds card to the side, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - Greetings_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students reflect on their own cards in their sketchbook/journals. Ask students:
    - What worked well in your design? Why?
    - What would you change or do differently next time?                                                                                                                                
    - What will it feel like to give this card to someone special? Why?