1st Grade Lines and Shapes Can Make a Cake (Wayne Thiebaud Inspired)


My mentor teacher, Kathleen Zeigler, (@kathleenzeigler on Twitter), created this lesson.  It was a hit with the kids and with me too!  I am definitely putting this project into the rotation.


Iintroduced the first grade artists to Wayne Thiebaud through a PowerPoint, and we studied several of his dessert paintings.  We talked about the lines and shapes in his paintings.  For additional line type review, each table tossed the Line Dice and talked about which line they rolled as they drew it on their papers.  We studied layered cakes and talked about how how each cake layer got smaller and smaller the higher it went.  We looked at lots of real life examples of layered cakes, looked for patterns in the cakes, and saw how different cake artists created something extra-special at the top of the cake.  We also looked at how Wayne Thiebaud painted the bases of his cakes, and we looked at how today’s cake artists display their cakes on cake stands.

I gathered the kids around for a quick drawing demo.  Our goals for this project were to draw a cake with at least 3 layers, draw some type of cake stand to support your cake, and add a detailed border around your paper.  I showed them how to use all of the line types we talked about with the line dice as decorations all their cake layers and in their borders.

The students drew wonderful cakes filled with amazing details in every part of their cakes.  They first drew their whole cakes with pencil, then they drew over all of their pencil lines with waterproof (this part is important!) Sharpie markers.  Then they erased all their pencil marks to get ready for the best part of the project – the painting!

This is where art teacher resourcefulness comes in – Kathleen showed me how to create brilliant watercolors from used up markers.  You can use the markers from previous years that look like there’s no more ink in them to make gorgeous bright shades of every color but black.


So the students painted their cake creations, and these are the results.  I’m so proud of my artists!

Edit: This is now a 2nd grade project – still a crowd pleaser!




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