SIMPLE PATTERNS – Stencil Prints, Warm and Cool Colours

Students create simple patterns with stencil prints using warm and cool colours of tempera paint.

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 1 to Grade 4


Language Arts
Visual Arts



Crayola Sketchbooks Crayola Tempera Paint Crayola Scissors Clear Tape Pencils Plastic Container Lids for Palettes Small Pieces of Sponge - about 3 cm x 4 cm (1.25" x 1.5") Tag Manilla or Cardstock Paper - 10 cm x 11.5 cm (4" x 5") Crayola Construction Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12")

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SIMPLE PATTERNS – Stencil Prints, Warm and Cool Colours - Step One

Step One

  1. Make 4 thumbnail sketches of different ideas for your stencil. 
SIMPLE PATTERNS – Stencil Prints, Warm and Cool Colours - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Choose the design you like best.
  2. Draw it on the piece of tag manilla.
  3. Make a straight cut from the outer edge of the tag manilla to the outline of your drawing.
  4. Cut the shape out in one piece.
  5. This is the POSITIVE shape. 
SIMPLE PATTERNS – Stencil Prints, Warm and Cool Colours - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Place tape across the two edges of the opening where you started cutting to join them back together.
  2. Make sure the edges are just touching each other where you tape them so the stencil is flat.
  3. This is the NEGATIVE shape.
SIMPLE PATTERNS – Stencil Prints, Warm and Cool Colours - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Use 2 plastic lids for your paint.
  2. Mix a warm colour of tempera paint on one of the lids, and a cool colour on the other lid.
  3. Place the stencil on the paper and hold it firmly in place.
  4. Dab a small sponge into one of the colours of paint.
  5. Dab the paint into the open space of the stencil.
SIMPLE PATTERNS – Stencil Prints, Warm and Cool Colours - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Make a simple pattern.
  2. Try painting several colours in each shape.
SIMPLE PATTERNS – Stencil Prints, Warm and Cool Colours - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Experiment with both the positive and negative pieces of the stencil. 

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a stencil of a fruit or vegetable;
  • create stencil prints using warm and cool colours of tempera paint;
  • use repetition of shape and colour to create a simple pattern;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity;
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


Have students:

  • work with a partner to mix a variety of colours;
  • make 2 prints of different patterns, one regular, and one alternating using the mixed colours and their two stencils; 
  • work with another class to teach their peers how to make stencil prints;
  • use the stencil printmaking technique to make cards for special occasions such as Mother's of Father's Day.


  1. Download and display the Colour and Shape posters  available on this website.
  2. Gather and make available picture books about fruits and vegetables, for example, Oliver's Fruit Salad, by Alison Bartlett; Oliver's Vegetables, by Vivian French; The Vegetables We Eat, by Gail Gibons; The Fruits We Eat, by Gail Gibbons; Tomatoes Grow on a Vine (How Fruits and Vegetables Grow), by Mari Schuh.
  3. Have children find answers to their own questions about their favourite fruit or vegetable through an inquiry-based learning project, write a report about their findings and present it to their peers.
  4. Review or teach the meaning of warm and cool colours.
  5. Prior to this lesson have students explore colour mixing using primary colours to create a variety of new colours. Have them:
    - decide if their colours are warm or cool;
    - keep adding colours to a group chart paper in a random pattern;
    - think up 'fancy names' for each new colour they create (Use paint chip names as an example);
    - print the names on or near the colours and mark them warm or cool.
  6. Download images of patterns from the Internet. For example,
  7. Create a sample.


  1. Show students the print you have created. Ask them to discuss what they notice about the print and to explain how they think it was made. Talk about the pattern and the colours.
  2. Show students the stencil you used to make the prints. Discuss the two parts of the stencil – the positive and negative shapes.
  3. View and discuss a variety of the downloaded images of patterns.
    - notice how the shapes are organized in a consistent, regular way
    - imagine a grid on top of the pattern to see the underlying structure
  4. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Cut out a stencil of a fruit or vegetable in one piece.
  2. Create stencil prints using warm and cool colours of tempera paint.
  3. Use repetition of shape and colour to create a simple pattern.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the artworks.

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 print has:
    ​- warm and cool colours
    - a simple pattern
    - repeated shapes
    - repeated colours
    - crisp edges around the shapes

    - paper in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work.
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Once all the prints are complete ask students to share them in partners or small groups. 
    Ask them to:
    Look closely at the prints and how they are made.
    - Share thoughts about the work.
    - Talk about how shape and colour are used to create a pattern.
    - Discuss the use of more than one colour in each shape.

    - Talk about what was difficult about making the print and why.
    - Tell what was satisfying about making the print and why.
  2. Ask some students to share their ideas with the whole class.
  3. Display the prints so students can view them as a body of work throughout the next few weeks.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their artworks – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, holds print 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 - Stencil_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - Stencil_self-assessment.pdf)