Crumpled Paper Art Lesson Plan

Art Lesson Title: Crumpled Paper Art

Teachers: Mackenzie Grosso, Rebecca Robinson, Mandy Kennelly, Katherine Rogers

Grade Level: Preschool through K

Rationale/Goals: Students will learn, through the book “Ish,” to embrace their own work and that it is okay to make mistakes. We want to have each student crumple up a piece of computer paper and then paint with watercolors on the outside. They will flatten it out and then repeat this process as many times as possible using different colors. Once finished, this will create a beautiful and unique watercolor art piece. We hope to encourage use of fine motor skills, creativity, and individuality among children.





Core ELA

SWBAT recreate the crumpled paper in the story by making their own watercolor art.


– observe the students while working and make sure they are making the connection to the story, ask questions about their intentions while working. Formal:

– evaluate student’s finished artwork

Speaking and Listening Standards:
5. Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.

Language Standards:

Explore and create meaning through play, conversation, drama, and storytelling.

SWBAT describe how the art activity goes along with the book.

SWBAT share their artwork and describe what they did.


– discuss as a class how the book and the art activity go together.
– Students will share their artwork with the class or their tablemates.


-If able, students can write 2-3 words describing their artwork. If not, they can verbally talk about their art.

SC Academic Standards in Visual Arts

SWBAT use paper and brush to learn watercolor techniques with help and supervision from teachers


-Watch the students as they work to make sure they are following the rules and painting on the paper -Observe the child’s unique artistic decisions when choosing colors and placement of colors

-Have the student’s answer questions pertaining to “Ish” and her artistic development to have students relay their understanding of the book
-Their finished artwork is their proof of formal assessment

Creating Works of Visual Art
1: The student will demonstrate competence in the use of ideas, materials, techniques, and processes in the creation of works of visual art. Indicators:

VAK-1.1 Use his or her own ideas in the creation of works of visual art. VAK-1.2 Identify the materials, techniques, and processes used in a variety of works of visual art. VAK-1.3 Use all art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.

Using Structures and Functions
2: The student will use composition and the elements and principles of design to communicate ideas.

VAK-2.2 Identify the elements and principles of design used in a particular work of visual art.

SWBAT verbalize their artistic process in making their crumpled art.

SWBAT describe their choice in design to their table partners by explaining their own art work


– Have a group discussion on how the number of colors involved in the piece affects the outcome of the project. Also discuss as a class how placement of the watercolors on the crumpled paper will change the placement on the uncrumpled paper



-During the project have table partner’s share and discuss their papers
-Students can combine their papers together to make a bigger work of art.

-If time allows students can share their artwork with the whole class, showcasing their understanding and application of adjectives and how they can be depicted in their art.

 Key Concepts: creativity, use of watercolors, fine motor skills, artistic expression

Lesson Sequence:

  1. Preparatory Work: Cut the white pieces construction paper into fourths, so that students will have smaller pieces to work with.
  2. Stand up and sing the “Hello” song with the children on the rug.
  3. Ask students if they have ever made a “mistake” like painting or drawing on something they were not supposed to when doing artwork. Once they answer, tell them that it is okay to make mistakes and we are going to share a story about how mistakes can make beautiful artwork as well.
  4. Read the book “Ish” by Peter H. Reynolds. Each time the reader says, “Ish” the students will make the “so-so” hand gesture.
  5. We will ask the students what they thought of the book and if they can give one or two words to describe how they felt when the sister saved the crumpled pieces. We will then model the entire activity we will be doing and show them the completed example.
  6. We will help put smocks onto children and get them settled at their tables. We will also go around and write their names on their pieces of paper.
  7. Students will receive their own piece of paper and crumple it into a ball.
  8. Students will then use watercolors to paint their paper balls. They will first choose one color and paint it all around the outside of the ball.
  9. Then they will gently unfold the paper to see how it looks. Have them press down on thepaper to flatten it out a bit.
  10. Next, have students crumple up the paper again, into a new ball. They will choose adifferent color and paint it all over the outside of their crumpled paper, just like before.
  11. Again, students will gently unfold and press down on their papers to flatten them out.
  12. Children can choose to stop after two colors, or they could add a third if they wish by repeating steps 7 and 8. Let the artwork dry.
  13. The children can use baby wipes to wash their hands after and we will help to take their smocks off.

Materials, supplies, tools, visuals, and equipment:

  • White computer paper
  • Watercolors
  • Paint brushes
  • Book

Possible Modifications: 

With more advanced students, we can introduce the idea of cutting their paper to enhance the crumpled paper project further. This way students can connect to how crumpling the paper with premade cuts, adds another aspect to the piece as a whole. Students can choose to make more cuts after they un-crumple the paper if they wish to make more of a clear artistic decision for their piece.

If time allows, students can all come place their finished pieces on the carpet to make one big crumpled piece of art. This will further encourage group coercion and working together. Students can observe the different outcomes possible from one project and how individual creativity is valued in groups.

Assessment Strategies:

If students are old enough, have them come up with 2-3 words to describe their art piece. For younger students, we can just ask their opinion of the story and their art.


Crumpled Paper Art for Kids Inspired by Ish


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