Home » Teach » Lesson Plans » Lesson 1: Brush Exploration, Making Lines and Marks

Lesson 1: Brush Exploration, Making Lines and Marks

Each new experience should be offered by itself with ample time period allowed for experimentation.”

– Nancy Smith


Grade Level

3 & 4 year olds

Media Theme/ Big Idea

Painting Explorations: Motions and Marks

Essential Question

What kinds of marks and lines can I make with a paintbrush? (New understandings about the properties of paint)

  • Unit & Lessons
  • Teaching Guide

Materials and Tools 

  • 18” x 24” white paper 80#
  • Black paint in soufflé cup
  • 1” brush
  • Tray


Step 1: Invitation to Explore

  • “What do you notice on my tray?” 
  • Explore the paintbrush and its parts as an artist’s tool. 
  • Talk about different kinds of brushes (hairbrush, toothbrush, house painter, etc.) and what they can be used for. 
  • “What do you see in the cup?” Black paint (a liquid)
  • Model taking the lid off of the soufflé cup and placing the cup on top of the lid.
  • Let’s see what happens when we dip our brush into the paint and move it along the paper. (“Dip the tip and wipe the drip”)
  • Explore many different kinds of lines and marks, asking the students to think of  different kinds of lines and draw them in the air. 
  • Encourage students to use their whole arm while exploring lines.

Step 2: Work-time

  • Invite 3-4 students to the art center. 
  • Encourage students to stand or sit, whichever is more comfortable for them, so they can use their whole arm as they move the brush around the paper (Notice kinesthetic sensation of arm movements and types of actions students are making with the brush.) Through motoric activity students begin to learn that paint can make lines and marks. 
  • Each student has her own tray with a cup of paint and brush.  
  • Remind students how to take the lid off of the soufflé cup and where to place the lid.
  • As students work, make comments about what you are observing: You are smiling as you paint, you must like it!  Comment on the kinds of lines and marks students create. Ask questions such as, “How did you make your brush make dots?” “How did you move your arm to make this line?”

Step 3: Reflection

What kinds of lines and marks do you see?


Paint, liquid, paintbrush, wood, handle, bristle, line, straight, curvy, wavy, zigzag, spiral, dotted, broken, diagonal, vertical, horizontal, thick, think, fat, skinny