Stenciled Letter Totes

Difficulty: Easy

Developed by: Sue Liedke, early childhood Visual Arts teacher
Philadelphia, PA

A Note From Sue Liedke

Like art teachers everywhere, each year I struggle with the best way to send home a growing collection of student art. This year, I decided to turn this end-of-the-year predicament into a lesson about stenciling, and my pre-Kindergartners designed their own tote bags to fill with all their treasures!

It was awesome to watch my students personalize their bags, by carefully creating their letters. For some, pulling and tearing or cutting tape is still a fun challenge! They had to exercise their decision making skills when picking colors and methods of applying paint. The “big reveal” when the masking tape was removed was an exciting time for our artists. Every bag is different, and each one is a masterpiece!

I think this would be a fun graphic design project for older kids too – I would love to know what elaborate designs they could come up with!

Products Used:

Other Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Fabric Paint or Ink Brushes
  • Rollers
  • Spray Bottles

Lesson Plan Ideas

Learning Objectives for Grades: Pre-K – 1

  • See, discuss identify art from silkscreen and stencil artists, compare and contrast methods
  • Identify colors, shapes, positive and negative space, to be used in masked stencil creation
  • Use vertical, horizontal, diagonal and curved lines to create shapes and letters
  • Kinesthetic learning (fine motor, arranging and removing tape)
  • Learn to personalize artwork, exhibiting preferences for colors, shapes and lines (elements of design)

Pre-K Visual Arts Standards:

  • 9.1.V PK.B combine a variety of materials to create a work of art
  • 9.1.V PK know, use basic elements of visual arts (demonstrate understanding of color, shape, line)
  • 9.1.V PK.J use a variety of technologies for producing works of art

Students will:

Students will use DIY printmaking methods to create a keepsake tote bag featuring their initial. The bags will be used to bring home student portfolios of artwork at the end of the year.


  •  stencil: used to create a predetermined design through the application of paint
  • masking: to cover something (in this case, to cover our intended design)
  • positive space: main focus of an image
  • negative space: surrounds an image

Project Steps:

  1. Step 1:

    Introduction and discussion of uses and methods of stenciling (compare to silkscreen art of Warhol, Lichtenstein, view work from graffiti artists who utilize stencils, etc)

  2. Step 2:

    Use tape to create initial and additional detail on blank bag. Students will manipulate tape into straight horizontal, vertical, diagonal and curved lines.

    Step 2

  3. Step 3:

    Experimentation with various fabric inks and paint, utilizing a variety of mark making tools such as rollers, brushes, and sprayers.

    Step 3

  4. Step 4:

    After dry time (1 day), students will pull tape from their bags, revealing negative space initials.

    Step 4

  5. Step 5:

    Once the bags are dry, they are ready to be filled with their art from the year!

    Step 5

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