• Farm Workers on the Back of a Truck

    Marianne Manasse, Farm Workers on the Back of a Truck. Oil on Masonite, 24 x 30 inches. Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

Storytelling with Lines

Visual Arts


2: Tell a Story 1-2-3

1-2 30-minute lessons


What kinds of lines, shapes, and colors do artists use?
What strokes represent actions?
What colors represent actions and emotions?

I can use technology to create art.
I can represent actions with types of lines and colors.
I can recognize various symbols and themes in daily life.
I can understand characteristics of the Elements of Art, including lines, shapes, and color.
I can recognize that art can depict something from the present (today).
I can identify the lines, colors, and shapes in works of art.

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University

Direct Instruction

Discuss the artwork Farm Workers on the Back of a Truck, by Marianne Manasse. Ask students to identify the lines, shapes and colors that they see.

Ask students if they know three things that every story must have: a beginning, middle, and an end.

Like stories, every day has a beginning, middle, and an end. Have students describe their daily activities in terms of beginning, middle, and end:

  • What is the beginning of the day?
  • What is the middle?
  • What is the end of the day?
  • What do you do during each of these times of day?

Explain that students will draw their daily activities by using different lines. They will use an online drawing or flipbook application to create their own digital artwork.

“Think about getting up in the morning. What kind of line goes along with that?” Demonstrate drawing a simple line on the tablet or computer.

“Then what do you do after you get up? If you brush your teeth, what kind of line would go with that activity? Draw that kind of line connected to your first line.” Flip to the next page on the tablet or computer and draw another line, or add a line to the current page.

Continue to illustrate your day by using different kinds of lines and different colors. As you model the activity, encourage students to think about how they can tell a story using different kinds of lines and color:

  • Which activities are represented by curvy lines?
  • By straight lines?
  • What color could I use to represent __?

Guided Practice/Application

Have students tell the story of their day using lines and colors. As students complete each line composition, demonstrate how they can make the composition more colorful — choose a different color for each line, or color in shapes created by the line.

As students work, have them discuss the activities represented by their various lines.

Example Web Applications for Drawing

In addition to the free online drawing applications listed below, there are also many apps that can be downloaded and installed for iPads and other tablets. Some allow you to animate your drawings by creating a flipbook; others only allow for a single, static image.

Classroom Extension Ideas

This lesson can be a great launching point to begin talking about sequencing words like first, next, then, and finally. Model using these words as you draw a line story of your own on the board. Then, practice using these words in a writing or fill-in-the-blank activity.


Below grade level: Uses one or two types of lines, dictates labels one or two lines with names of activities.

Meets expectations: Uses three different kinds of lines and dictates label for each.

Exceeded expectations: Uses four or more different kinds of lines and labels each on their own.

Materials Needed

iPads or computers with an internet connection, print or digital reproduction of additional artwork showcasing lines


curved, zig-zag, straight, slanting, wavy, shapes, color names

Artwork in this Lesson

  • Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University