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Sustainable Negative Space Art Projects for Kids

Sustainable Negative Space Art Projects for Kids

Save your FreshCut Crafts shape remnants for an engaging exercise in negative space and sustainable crafting.

Are you looking for a fun, creative challenge for kids? Encourage them to make something creative out of their empty FreshCut Crafts shape sheets as an introduction to negative space, and a lesson in crafting with a conscience.

Negative space art is a positive experience with our craft shapes!

Lessons Learned in This Negative Space Art Activity:

  1. Negative space can be used to create exciting images and patterns.

  2. Layering colors, shapes, and materials can produce interesting and unpredictable results.

  3. Think before you throw something away! Recycling and reusing scraps from a previous project is less wasteful and a fun and challenging way to be creative.

  4. Make the most of what you have—scrap materials can be very useful, so don’t automatically count them out as garbage.

Get the Shapes

For this activity, we used shape sheets from Basic Shapes 1 and Basic Shapes 2 packs. Other great choices could be our Letters & Numbers and ARTshapes packs. However, all our products have punch-out elements and would work well to create a negative space art project. 

Materials Needed

  • FreshCut Crafts shape remnants or homemade remnants
  • Colored pencils, crayons, or markers
  • Optional: old magazines or photos printed from your phone or the internet

Continue scrolling to learn more about why teaching your child about negative space is important or jump to the FreshCut Crafts Negative Space Art Project!

Introducing the Concept of Negative Space to Kids

Positive space is made up of the things we can see and touch. For example, when drawing a flower, the positive space is the stem, petals, and leaves.

Negative space is the empty or "invisible" space that fills the areas around the main subject. To use our above example, the negative space in our flower drawing would be the sky or the background that makes the flower stand out on the page.

Kids, especially young children, work in positive space most of the time, building with wooden blocks, paper shapes, and plastic bricks and drawing on solid sheets of paper. Asking children to see and draw "what isn't there" can frustrate young learners. When drawing a flower, they naturally concentrate on the petals, stem, leaves, etc. They don't ordinarily focus on the space around those elements. That's where our shapes make teaching and learning about negative space easier. 

All FreshCut Crafts punch-out shapes and letters are set in orderly patterns on sheets of brightly colored card stock. As children punch out the shapes on the sheets, a remnant is exposed—don't throw it out! Instead, save the remnants and let them accumulate for an essential exercise in playing with negative space. 

Why Teach Children About Negative Space?

When children are first learning their shapes, it can seem unbelievable that in a short time, they will attempt more realistic and expressive drawings. But it happens quickly! One week, they are scribbling; the next, they're making basic shapes, and before you know it, they are attempting to draw the family pet. Exploring negative space with your child can be a fascinating way to engage their young mind and to help them create more balanced compositions. Many young children want their drawings to look more 'real,' and a basic understanding of negative space can help them achieve their goals. 

By incorporating negative space art projects into elementary art activities, kids will:

  • Enhance their fine motor skills.
  • Learn how to identify and utilize negative space effectively in their artwork.
  • Boost their creativity.
  • Develop a deeper understanding of art concepts.

Art projects for children that emphasize negative space can range from simple drawing exercises to more complex collage projects. Using the space around objects while engaging in an art project encourages them to think creatively, experiment with creating shapes and forms, and problem-solve visually. 

Hands-on art projects provide an interactive and fun way for kids to learn about: 

  • Spatial relationships between objects
  • Composition – how different elements of an artwork are combined or arranged
  • Balance, scale, and proportion 

FreshCut Crafts Negative Space Art Project

When you look at one of our empty shape sheets, you see the outline of hearts or stars or circles, and you see through those empty spaces.

If you lay one remnant on a sheet of colored paper, colored positive shapes appear. Now, try it on white or a patterned sheet.

paper craft cut out basic shapes color paper arts and crafts negative space art lesson children

Layer a similar or different shape remnant on top of that one and see what happens.

paper craft cut out basic shapes color paper arts and crafts negative space art lesson children

Shift the placement of the layered remnant to see how the shapes and colors interact.

paper craft cut out basic shapes color paper arts and crafts negative space art lesson children

Next, try folding a remnant and then layering it. What is hidden, and what is revealed?

paper craft cut out basic shapes color paper arts and crafts negative space art lesson children

If you have loose shapes left over, try popping different colored shapes back into the remnants.

paper craft cut out basic shapes color paper arts and crafts negative space art lesson children

Tear images and words out of old magazines and place them into the shapes or print out your favorite digital photos and see what happens when they're placed behind the shapes. You can also use the shapes as stencils with crayons or markers.

paper craft cut out basic shapes color paper arts and crafts negative space art lesson children

Encourage creative thought and play! Ask your children or students what else can be done with negative space.

Tip: If you don't have our shape remnants, you can always use a punch to cut shapes into a sheet of paper or cut shapes into paper using scissors (much like an old-school snowflake project where you fold the paper down, cut out shapes, and unfold to reveal a new and exciting shape.

Turning Scraps into Art Teaches Sustainability 

This project also drives home the message: “Think before you throw away.” (If your child has ever cut a little circle into the corner of a piece of paper and mindlessly thrown the rest of the sheet out, then you know what I'm talking about.) When kids are in creative mode, scraps and mishaps can be discarded without much thought.

By saving the empty shape sheets and making something exciting out of them, children learn to think more consciously about saving materials that they could use for other projects. Be sure to discuss with your child how empty shape sheets should be saved, and then challenge them to make something fun with the remnants later.

Negative Space – A Positive Experience! 

Understanding negative space is a basic skill children need as they grow, and their art projects become more sophisticated. Doing projects like this with your child will help foster a deeper understanding of art concepts. But don’t worry! They won't think of this as homework or a “learning experience”—they’ll only realize they’re having fun!


1 comment

Avery Ryan Organ

I was looking for a craft and I saw this and I thought “Wow I love these cute crafts I want to do these!” Thank you!

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