16 September 2011

Optical Illusions in Art Class

Last week I pinned a fabulous optical illusion art idea from We Heart Art.  She had completed this activity with her fifth graders, and I thought it would make a fantastic first lesson for my students.  I tried it out with my oldest daughter last weekend (she's in grade 3), and when she achieved great results, I knew it would be perfect.

This is a perfect art lesson for the beginning of the year because it uses only a few materials, has simple directions, and turns out to be an impressive work of art.  As we were working on it, I could hear the "cool" and "awesome" comments that we teachers love to hear.  We started our lesson by examining a colour wheel and discussing complimentary colours.  I had students choose two complimentary colours for this project.  To get started:
1)  Locate the centre of the page - draw a dot with a pencil.
2)  Still using the pencil, draw 6 straight lines through the centre.
3)  Still using the pencil, draw "happy face" curved lines in alternate sections.
4)  Colour in the sections with marker, alternating one coloured, one blank (these were my magenta sections).  Use a pencil crayon (in the same magenta colour) to shade the edges of the blank sections.
5)  Using the pencil again, draw "sad face" curved lines in the left over sections.
6)  Colour in these sections with marker, alternating one coloured, one blank (these were my green sections).  Use a pencil crayon (in the same green colour) to shade the edges.
7)  Trace over all pencil lines (straight and curved) with a black marker.
8)  Stand back and admire.   :)

It also makes a show-stopping bulletin board display!!!

With just a few twists, you can turn this into a fabulous spider web art idea perfect for October.  You can take a peek at my full lesson for this Spider Web Op-Art here.  The lesson includes a full PDF as well as PowerPoint lesson with pictures and detailed step-by-step instructions for students, as well as a rubric for assessment and student reflection sheet.

Happy Friday!!!  And oh my - thank goodness it's Friday!!!


  1. Love it! I think I might do this on Monday. Our Open House is on Wed. and this would look great.

  2. That's exactly why we did it. Our Open House was Thursday evening, and I just finished the bulletin board Thursday after school!

  3. These are so neat. You have the best ideas. :0)

  4. I love this project! I think I can adapt it for my Photoshop kids! We'll be doing the element of line next week.

  5. You have such fantastic ideas! Thank you so much for being an awesome educator and for sharing!

  6. Ok, I created a digital tutorial for Photoshop! I put it on my Scribd and would be happy to give you the link. (I couldn't find an email for you here.) Thanks again for the inspiration!

  7. I'm going to do this during my light unit when we study optical illusions. AWESOMe...
    Amy from Tucson

  8. You have to be the most fun teacher ever! Even my 8 year old wants to visit your blog everyday for ideas I can do with him- for real! Thank you for making teaching and learning so rewarding.

    Teaching Blog Addict
    ♥Teaching with TLC

  9. Thanks, everyone! I really liked this one - I LOVE art ideas that everyone can have success with - not just the "natural artists". I guess that's because I was never one of the "natural artists" ;)
    Tamara - your son wanting to visit my blog for ideas is the BEST compliment! Totally made my day!

  10. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing. I'm going to do this with my third graders soon!

  11. i love that you said on the poster we're a
    sm-ART class!!:} from Jessica B in Mrs. Gaskell's 3rd grade class.

  12. Awesome I will use this idea for my school homework project tomorrow ;)

  13. THANK YOU for posting this. I just took over a long term supply position with no plans in place and have to teach an art lesson tomorrow. This is simple, creative, and fits in with themes the children are reading about with "things not being what they seem" - going to introduce the project with some fun optical illusions on youtube. Thanks...this is a lifesaver.

  14. Thanks for posting this. Going to use it for my first art lesson back after Easter for optical illusions :)

  15. This is so awesome! thanks so much...we are doing optical would be a great start...:D Thank you thank you thank you!

  16. Love this and your step by step directions are perfect! I also enjoy that you try the projects out with your older daughter because I do the same! If she can do it - so can my students :-) will be doing this in sept!

  17. I just made one and it came out great. Thank you for the step by step instructions.