Alma Thomas Elementary Art Lesson Pre-K to 6th Grade

Josey’s Art School


Studying Art with the Masters


Robin Norgren, M.A.

This Lesson:

Alma Thomas: Orange and Blue Composition


Alma Thomas used to make costumes.

She was the first African American to get a college degree in Fine Arts.

Ms. Thomas was an art teacher!  When she retired she focused on making art.

Alma was inspired by science and nature.  She loved to create with bright colors.




 Materials needed

Pencil (to write the child’s name on the back of the work)

8.5x11 or 9x12 white cardstock/precut poster board/140lb watercolor paper – something with a bit more stability to it than copy paper in order to withstand the amount of paint and glue your students will be using.  You will need enough for each participant to use as the base for his/her artwork (older children option will need two pieces).  On this second page cut off about 3 inches horizontally.

Paintbrushes and water bowls

Blue, yellow, orange, white and black tempura paint

Ruler (optional – you may choose the draw the lines creating the sunrays for the younger students or allow the students to free draw the lines).

Foam brushes or kitchen sponges cut into rectangles

Cardboard scraps cut into small shapes like squares or triangles

Baby wipes


Length of Time/Duration of project: 30 minutes


You have a few options for how you want to proceed with developing the main thrust of the project.  I work with 3-5 year olds in a Montessori setting.  This means that you are met with a gamut of skill levels.  Some children will have no problem handling more of the details of this project which means less time needed to prep and more of the experience for the way the artistic process works is offered to the child.  I have attempted to give you two ends of the spectrum but please feel free to modify as needed.

  1. Take your piece of white paper that you are using as the base for the project and write the child’s name on the back of the paper or let them write their names on their own.


 2.   Take your sponge (brush) and starting with the blue paint, create a line in alternating shapes.  The students will notice that, depending on the pressure they put on the sponge will change the shape of the line.

3.   Next, add a little water to the sponge and create your second line.  Also, try adding a little of the white paint.

4.   With the yellow paint, add a bit more pressure the sponge and allow a little more texture to show up in your paint.

5.   Move onto the orange paint.

6.   Take the piece of cardboard and use the edge to dip in the black paint and add the stems within the paint.

7.   Continue until you have placed the stem in all the colors.


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