Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Free Art Lesson: Ladders in Art

A few years ago, I was fortunate to be able to share with you "Teaching Art to Preschool and Early Elementary Age Children," a guest post by art educator Sharon Jeffus, the founder of Visual Manna. Today, I welcome her back to MommyMaestra with an original lesson for MM readers. Enjoy!

Ladders in Art 

by Sharon Jeffus  
Copyright 2017

Younger children enjoy looking at master artwork.  Verbal skills are enhanced as they talk about the artwork.  An art project relating to the masterwork develops their fine motor skills and enhances language skills as well.  Teaching vertical and horizontal line is important.  A ladder is very basic and simple in structure.  In a ladder, we see vertical and horizontal lines. The line is the first element of art.

One of my favorite pictures of a ladder is this picture of the professor standing on the ladder by Carl Spitzweg.  He calls the wonderful picture “The Bookworm.”

“The Bookworm” by Carl Spitzweg

Do you think this man loves to read?  Can you guess how many books are in the picture?  It is fun to imagine.  Long ago some people had libraries full of books in their home.  You might see a ladder in a home or library, or you might see a ladder beside a tree.  August Macke did the painting below of a man climbing a ladder.  How many people do you see in the picture?  What is the lady doing?  Sometimes someone will hold a ladder to steady the person climbing it.  Do you think that there is a cat in the tree?  Why?

 "Obsternte" by August Macke

Ladders have been used for hundreds of years.  The man on the ladder below lived long ago.  The picture was done by an artist called Signorelli in the 1500’s.  What is the man doing on the ladder below?  What do you see in the background?  Things in the foreground are larger and things in the background are smaller.  Do you any cars in the picture?  Why? Do you see the horse in the background?  Do you think the man is building something?

'Man on a Ladder' by Luca Signorelli

We are going to do a picture of a ladder together.  We will make a tree first and then we will make a ladder next to the tree.  You will need paper, pencil and crayons or markers.  We are going to start with the letter “Y” and create a tree.  Follow the directions below to make a tree with a ladder.  It is an apple tree.  When you draw a ladder, you make two vertical lines.  A vertical line stands straight and tall.  You then put horizontal lines to connect the vertical lines.  Horizontal lines are flat.  The teacher can also cut strips of paper and the children can paste the ladder together.

To learn how to make this tree in all the different seasons, go to my lesson here.

There is also a Bible story about a famous ladder.  You can go here to read about it.

You can go to my website at to learn about teaching programs available.


Sharon Jeffus graduated from John Brown University with a B.S.E. in Art Education and is the founder of Visual Manna. She has written over 22 books and has created the Visual Manna Teaching method which incorporates the elements and principles of art, art history and a variety of techniques in media along with each lesson. You can go to for more information. Her books and materials are carried by Rainbow Resources.

You can email her at


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