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Partner Square Painting – Math Arts

Math Arts MaryAnn F. Kohlby MaryAnn F. Kohl

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The Whole and Its Parts
Chalk grid lines are snapped on the paper forming sections that are then painted. The design comes together and shows how the sectioned parts of the paper make up the whole design.


• newsprint to protect floor
• butcher paper taped to floor, about 3′ x 3′ square
• sidewalk chalk
• 4′ length of heavy twine
• tempera paints and paintbrushes
• aprons or shirts to cover artists
• 2 or 3 children


1. Cover about a 5′ x 5′ area of floor with newsprint to protect from spills.
2. Tape a large square of butcher paper to the center of the newsprint.
3. Stretch a length of twine between two artists. A third artist rubs chalk back and forth on the twine until it is well coated with chalk.
4. The two artist kneel on either side of the large square paper, holding the twine tight across the paper at floor level.
5. For the amazing fun moment, one of the partners or a third person lifts the center of the twine a few inches then lets it snap back to the paper, leaving a chalk line on the paper.
6. Repeat the chalking of the twine. This time, move the twine over about 5″-6″ and snap again.
7. Repeat about six times, then cross over the first lines so that the squares appear on the paper each time. It is common for the shapes to resemble squares but not quite be true squares. Working together is difficult!
8. When the paper is covered with chalk squares, paint the squares with tempera paints. Leave some squares blank, if desired. Leave in place and dry several hours.
9. When dry, notice how the parts of the squares make up a whole; the large butcher paper is sectioned with many colorful smaller squares.


• Segment a chalkboard or sidewalk into a grid and use colored chalk to color in the squares.

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It's the process, not the product!