Make a Positive-Negative Space Shamrock Activity

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Updated on Sep 21, 2012

This St. Patrick's Day, help your child play and learn with important elements like space and shape! Using a hands-on approach, this fun art exploration activity will introduce your young learner to the concepts of positive and negative space. Your child can learn about shape, space, fractions, symmetry, and other mathematically-inspired art principles while designing a very special symbol for the upcoming Irish holiday.

What You Need:

  • 2 pieces of white construction paper
  • 1 piece of green construction paper
  • Marker, crayon, or pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue or glue stick

What You Do:

  1. Ask your child to stack one piece of white paper and one piece of green paper on top of each other, and then fold in half like a book.
  2. Invite her to draw half of a shamrock onto the folded paper, starting at the fold. Try using a picture or illustration from a book as a model for the shamrock shape. It may be helpful for your child to first trace this shape onto another paper to get the feel of it.
  3. Have your child cut the shamrock out. She should have two shamrock shapes (one green and one white). The fold should be in the center of the shape. Point out that the shamrock shape (or image) that has been removed is the positive space. This is a great opportunity to introduce new art vocabulary such as the words organic shape (shapes that nature or associated with the natural world).
  4. From the remaining paper, have your child cut a line down the fold. Your child should now have four half pieces of paper with the negative shamrock space towards the center. This is a great way to introduce the concept of fractions. Choose one half of the green paper (with the half shamrock cut out) and glue it to a new (non-cut) piece of white paper. It should be lined up exactly with the sides, top, and bottom of the new paper.
  5. Have your child cut both shamrocks in half. She should take one of the green half shamrocks and glue it onto the white side of the paper that is blank.

When your child has finished gluing, you should see a whole shamrock with one positive green side, and one negative space white side. Make sure to discuss what has occurred, and talk about the positive and negative features of the shamrock.

Erica Loop has a MS in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education. She has many years of teaching experience working in early childhood education, and as an arts educator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

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