Printmaking is an indirect way of creating an image. Students must first create a printing plate, then ink it and transfer it in order to produce their final image. Different techniques and materials are used throughout the grade levels to create printing plates, each building upon concepts from earlier years. Styrofoam relief, self-stick rubber, collograph, and E-Z Carve relief block printing are some of the ways students produce prints. Concepts of shape, texture and contrast are paramount in the development of a printing plate. While the manner in which plates are made differ, some concepts are universal throughout the printmaking curriculum. Students need to learn the proper amount of ink to apply in order to make a clean clear print, they need to recognize that all images reverse when printed and that multiples of the same image can be produced.

1st Grade


  • What shapes will you need for your animal?
  • What inside shapes will you draw?
  • Will you make textures?
  • Will you add background details?
  • What color ink will you use?
  • How much ink will you need?

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2nd Grade


  • What is a reflection?
  • What tyoes of things create a reflection?
  • What happens when you press wet paint agains a surface?
  • What happens if the paint is dry?
  • What parts will you make above the water?
  • How will you keep the paint from drying?

Dream House Prints

  • What shapes will you need to make as the building blocks of your dream house?
  • Where will you place them?
  • What details will you make inside the shapes?
  • What will you need to do for letters or words?
  • How much ink will you apply?
  • What combinations of ink/paper will work best?

Outside Play

  • Where do you like to play outside?
  • How many people will you make?
  • What shape will you need to make for each part?
  • How will you show the people moving?
  • Which color ink will you use first?
  • What happens when you roll one color on top of another?

3rd Grade

Leaf Prints

Students create observational drawings of leaves.

  • What is the basic shape of your leaf?
  • Whate are the edges of the leaf like?
  • Where are the veins?
  • Where will you print the leaves on the page?
  • What happens when you overlap leaves?
  • What happens when leaves go off the page?
  • What colors will you use?

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Observation Collograph- Matchbox Cars

Students use matchox cars as inspiration for these prints based on collage techniques.

  • What shapes do you see?
  • Where will you overlap shapes? How big will you make your vehicle?
  • What kind of background will you make?

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4th Grade


Textured Collograph

Students create printing plates using textured materials.

  • What kind of landscape will you make?
  • Which shapes will touch each other?
  • Which shapes will have spaces between them?
  • Will any shapes overlap?
  • What kinds of textured materials will you use for each part?

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5th Grade

Gray Scale

In this preparatory lesson, Students learn how to use carving tools to create prints in soft-cut rubber plates.

  • How kinds of marks can you make with the cutting tools?
  • How does your image change as you cut away?
  • How is a number 5 tool different than a number 2 tool?



Soft - Cut Prints

Students design and carve these animal prints into soft-cut linoleum.

  • Which parts of your print will you carve?  
  • Which parts will you leave?
  • What kinds of textures will you make?
  • What direction will you carve?

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