Perspective is a fantastic jumping off point for inspiring kids to think about the way math and art intersect. Today’s post features a fantastic way to introduce perspective art for kids through a one point perspective art activity. Find more fun ways to teach kids math.
This fall I took a fantastic sketchbook class from Jane Kriss. Most of the activities weren’t very mathematical, but we completed a unit on perspective that was all about math. I simplified one of the activities from that unit for today’s one point perspective math art activity.
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Floating Boxes Perspective Art for Kids
Perspective is tricky, because it’s hard to wrap our brains around the fact that distance makes things look smaller and closeness makes them appear larger. To complicate things even further, the rise (slant) of the lines that make objects appear 3D changes as you move closer or further away from your focal point (vanishing point).
This simple art activity helps kids understand why and how this kind of perspective shape shifting happens.
Exploring Single Point Perspective With Kids
My four kids – aged 7, 10, 11, and 13 – all really enjoyed this simple floating boxes activity – and they left with a better understanding of perspective!
I taught a mini lesson on vanishing points before starting our art activity.
What Is a Vanishing Point?
Look at a photo taken from the middle of a street, train tracks, or a straight path. You’ll notice that the tops of buildings and edges of paths converge to a single point. The same is true in a photo taken of a room.
This point is called the vanishing point, and we use it to draw single point perspective.
Here’s an example of my kids drawing perspective lines on a photo I took using our Apple pencil and Procreate on my iPad. You can also draw lines like this on pages torn out of magazines – no need to get fancy! We just own the technology so I went with that.
Floating Boxes Perspective Art for Kids
We started off my perspective math art printable (just click on that text to download the pdf for free). It’s a super simple page featuring a dot – your vanishing point – in the middle.
First, draw four squares or rectangles, spaced around the page. We went for one in each quadrant because that teaches this particular concept really effectively, but you can play around with centering them on the horizon line that runs across the page, as well as the y-axis of that x-axis (a vertical line running through the vanishing point that is perpendicular to the horizon line, which also runs through the vanishing line.
Next, use rulers to connect the three closest corners of your square to the vanishing point. Pro tip: I love flexible rulers for kids because they work as well as rigid rulers and are less likely to lead to injuries. The novelty factor is fun, too.
Next, draw lines to show the back edges of your boxes. Notice how you can see the bottoms and inside edge of the boxes above the horizon line, while you see the tops and inside edge of the boxes below the horizon line.
Trace the lines of the boxes to help them stand out from your perspective lines. You can also erase your perspective lines now, if you want to. We left ours in.
You can also add shading or patterns to decorate your boxes. Only Johnny chose to complete this step.
I love how differently each of my kids approached this activity. 11-year-old Johnny’s art held the precision of an architectural drawing.
10-year-old Lily and 13-year-old Emma were careful for their pencil drawings and then looser with their tracing over in color.
Lily kept her boxes centered in around the focal point, while Emma’s boxes are less cubelike and are further from the center of the page.
7-year-old Anna colored the perspective lines in as if they were streams of light trailing behind the boxes.
Anna enjoyed this activity so much that she brought home another version that she drew while playing at a friend’s home the next day.
More Math Art
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