LINES AND SHAPES – Abstract Art, Measurement

Students create a design by using a ruler to draw overlapping line segments and then colouring in the shapes they have created. Later they compare their designs with an abstract painting by Wassily Kandinsky.

Required Time

30 Minutes

Grade Level

Kindergarten to Grade 3


Language Arts
Visual Arts


abstract art colour line segment shape


Crayola Washable Markers Crayola Construction Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Crayons Rulers - 1 per student

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LINES AND SHAPES – Abstract Art, Measurement - Step One

Step One

  1. Decide how long your lines will be, e.g., 13 cm.
  2. Use a ruler to draw line segments.
  3. Start at the end of the ruler at number 1.
  4. Stop at number 13. 
  5. Make at least 10 lines all the same length – 13 cm.
  6. Let the lines cross over each other.
LINES AND SHAPES – Abstract Art, Measurement - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Look for shapes created by the overlapping lines. 
  2. Use construction paper crayons to colour in the shapes.
LINES AND SHAPES – Abstract Art, Measurement - Step Three

Step Three

  1. View the work of Wassily Kandinsky.
    - How is your design the same as Kandinsky's?
    - How is it different?
  2. Look at your design with fresh eyes. 
    ​- What colour did you use the most of?   
    - How many different shapes did you colour?
    - What do you like the best about your design? Why?
    - Who would love your design? Why?
  3. Give your design a title.

Untitled Composition by Wassily Kandinsky, 1922, watercolour and India ink on paper, 12.4" x 14.5"

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • explore measurement using a ruler and markers;
  • create personal responses to the centre materials;
  • work independently and self-regulate;
  • share their ideas with peers; 
  • demonstrate a sense of accomplishment.


Have students explore measurement using strips of paper and pieces of wool:

  • measure and cut strips of paper a specific length, e.g., 15 cm;
  • glue the paper strips onto a piece of construction paper;
  • measure and cut pieces of wool a specific length, e.g., 9 cm;
  • glue the pieces of yarn onto the construction paper;
  • share their work with their peers.


  1. Create an art centre in your classroom with the following things:
    - rulers
    - markers
    - construction paper crayons
    - construction paper
  2. Gather, and make available, books about shapes and measurement, for example, The Shape of Things, by Dayle Ann Dodds, and Julie Lacome; The Shape Song Swingalong, by Barefoot Books; Triangle, by Mac Barnett, and Jon Klassen; Square, by Mac Barnett, and Jon Klassen; Math Counts: Length, by Henry Arthur Pluckrose; Math Counts: Shape, by Henry Arthur Pluckrose; Shapes! Board book, by National Geographic Kids; and Actual Size, by Steve Jenkins.
  3. Gather and make available books related to Kandinsky, for example, The Girl Who Heard Colors, by Marie Harris; The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art, by Barb Rosenstock; and Wassily Kandinsky, 1866-1944: The Journey to Abstraction, by Ulrike Becks-Malorny. 
  4. Download and display the Line and Shape posters available on this website.
  5. Download an image of abstract art by Kandinsky from the Internet.


  1. Conduct a read-aloud with a book such as Math Counts: Length, by Henry Arthur Pluckrose.
    - draw attention to how things are measured
  2. Practice using a ruler to draw some lines with a marker on chart paper.
  3. Introduce the art centre.
  4. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a design using lines and colours.
  2. Use your own ideas to make your design.
  3. Use a ruler to draw at least 10 lines all the same length.
  4. ​Make some of the lines cross over other lines.
  5. Colour the shapes between the lines.
  6. Explain how you made your picture.

The Process

  1. Ensure that students understand the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I:
    - use my own ideas to make my design
    - use a ruler to draw 10 lines
    - make all the lines the same length
    - make some lines overlap
    - colour the shapes between the lines
    - explain how I made my picture
    - share my ideas with my classmates
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in the lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work.
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Gather students to share and discuss their pictures. 
  2. Introduce Wassily Kandinsky.
  3. Conduct a read-aloud with the book The Noisy Paint Box, or share a few points about the artist.
    - born in 1866
    - Russian artist
    - had a special gift called synaesthesia cognate - a condition that meant when he heard a sound he also saw a particular colour
    - he used colours and shapes in his abstract paintings to express feelings and music
    - he painted the first abstract painting called the First Abstract Watercolour, 1910
    - he thought each shape created specific feelings – square caused calm feelings; triangle caused aggressive feelings; circle caused heavenly feelings
  4. View Kandinsky's painting,
    Untitled (Composition Lyrique) by Wassily Kandinsky, 1922, watercolor and India ink on paper, 12.4 x 14.75 inches
    - explain that this kind of art is called abstract art 
    - abstract art is art that does not try to show real life objects but uses lines, shapes and colours to create designs 
    - ask students to see how the painting is similar to their own designs and how it is different
  5. Ask students to think about their own designs:
    What colour did you use the most of?   
    - How many different shapes did you colour?
    - What do you like the best about your design? Why?
    - Who would love your design? Why?
  6. Display all the designs in the classroom.
  7. Encourage students to view the designs and to notice how they are the same, and how they are different.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss the artworks – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Download - LineDesign_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have primary students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Download - LineDesign_self-assessment.pdf)