Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Drawing with Scissors like Matisse

Belinda Brown
Bay District Schools


Snip colorful pieces of paper into a cut-work creation that expresses something you love or makes your heart happy. Use the style of drawing with scissors like Matisse to design a colorful cut-work masterpiece that reflects your personality.


The student uses two-dimensional and three-dimensional media, techniques, tools, and processes to depict works of art from personal experiences, observation, or imagination.

The student understands that works of art can communicate an idea and elicit a variety of responses through the use of selected media, techniques, and processes.

The student uses the elements of art and the principles of design to effectively communicate ideas.


-A pair of scissors for each student
-A bottle of glue for each student
-A 9x12 sheet of drawing paper for each student
-Containers filled with colorful pieces of construction paper
(I used plastic “tub-shaped”containers purchased at a dollar type store.) (The container needs to be at least 12” in depth.)
-Biographical information about the French artist, Henri Matisse
-Prints by Henri Matisse: (These were the examples I used. They could be substituted) Early painting style: -Goldfish,- -Lady in the Purple Robe,- -Interior with Egyptian Curtain,- Late cut-work style: -Icarus,- -The Circus,- -La Negresse-


1. Get prints by Henri Matisse: (I would suggest that you use the -Icarus- since the project’s objective is about a happy heart and love.)
2. Look up some information about Matisse. I looked on the Internet (see site listed below) and used the resource material.
3. Make examples of cut-work collage that shows personal feelings, include background, middle ground, and foreground. Make an example that does not show the required goals.
4. Collect large amounts of scrap construction paper. (Get the classroom teacher to save for you, especially kindergarten.)
5. Get your supplies together. Glue, scissors, and white drawing paper. Each student had his own glue bottle, scissors, and paper. I also used plastic tubs to hold the scraps of construction paper. Small plastic baskets were used to hold the scissors.
6. Write on a chart or board, the scoring rubric, safety rules and proper use of art materials for scissors and glue.
7. Set up work areas. My tables hold 6 students, so a tub with scraps was placed in the center of the group along with a basket with 6 scissors and 6 bottles of glue. No pencils were allowed.



1. Gain attention
Say: What would you think about a grown man cutting out objects from colored paper? Would you believe that he was a famous artist? Well, he was and his name was Henri Matisse. (Show a picture of Matisse. I used a Dale Seymour published book about artists.)Tell about Matisse’s life.

2. Present objectives
Learn about the life and art style of Henri Matisse in the late years of his art career. The students will hear a brief history of Matisse and view prints of his early art style. (Matisse’s early style was painted.) Early painting style prints used: "Goldfish," "Lady in the Purple Robe," "Interior with Egyptian Curtain" (Other prints may be substituted) Matisse’s later style changed to cut-work art or collage. Late cut-work style prints used: "Icarus," "The Circus," "La Negresse" ( I chose these prints to emphasis the goal of the project.)

3. Relate to present knowledge
Mr. Matisse expressed himself by drawing with scissors. The students will be able to relate to the child-like expressions of the artist because of their age.

4. Engage students in learning
Students listen to a story (or the teacher shares) about Matisse’s childhood and early life. They learn about his years as a painter and view some examples of his work. They learn that in his later years between the age of 80 and 85 all of Matisse’s artwork was cut-work or collage. The students view the cut-work prints. The students discuss the feelings the prints give them. The students look at the whole art piece and discuss the meaning(s) that Mr. Matisse may have been feeling or wanting to express through his artwork. If time allows, start the project on day one.

(Write on a chart or board, scoring rubric, safety rules and proper use of art materials.)Review scissors safety rules on the board and the glue rules. The use of the glue has to be monitored closely. Remind the students to open the glue only a small amount. Apply the glue in small dots on the back of the piece of paper that the student plans to glue down. Use this rhyme---A LITTLE GLUE WILL DO, A LOT WILL NOT! Do not make puddles of glue, it will take a long time to dry.Go over the scoring rubric and what is expected of the student as a final assessment.

The objective of each student is to cut out pieces of colored construction paper and glue them onto a piece of white drawing paper. Each 2-D/3-D design is suppose to be created to show something that the student really loves or makes the heart happy. No pencils can be used.

The students are “drawing with scissors” like Matisse. The students are allowed to glue down only paper that has been cut by their scissors. The students must cut out their own designs. The students must make a background, middle ground, and a foreground. Use the teacher-made examples. Have the students look at the details and encourage them to do their best.

5. Provide for practice
Allow the students to work on their own cut-work creations. One class period, 45 minutes.
-Turn the lights off, about 8 minutes before the end of class and review the clean up directions.
-Put all cut-work pictures on the counter.
-Put your name with a crayon on the back of your art work.
-Return all colored paper to the tubs---even the pieces on the floor.
-Put the scissors in the small white baskets.
-Close the glue.

6. Provide feedback
Walk around during production time. View and provide feedback to the students directly. Some of the students' work could be shown during class to demonstrate positive understanding of the goals of the lesson.

Write the 3 steps below on a chart or board to give the students a visual reminder of the instructions.
1. Finish the cut-work art piece. Does it include a background, middle ground, and a foreground. Did you complete the rubric?
2. Put the finished piece on the counter top to dry.
(Don’t put your work on top of another student’s work)
3. (This is teacher choice for the students who finish.)


Note: This lessons assesses the standards and benchmarks based on the following Sample Performance Descriptions:

*interprets personal ideas, feelings, and experiences through visual form

*develops an awareness of the whole page

Assess the student’s artwork at the end of the second 45-minute class.

“Master Piece”
The student used colored construction paper to cut out 2-D or 3-D objects that expertly depicted something that they love or made their heart happy. The student’s visually expressed art form should include a background, middle ground, and a foreground showing complete understanding of “whole space”.

“Acceptable Piece ”
The student used colored construction paper to cut out 2-D or 3-D objects that effectively depicted something that they love or made their heart happy. The student’s visually expressed art form excluded a part(s) of the background, middle ground, or foreground. The student showed partial understanding of “whole space”.

“Acceptable Piece with change”
The student’s artwork was ineffective in using colored construction paper to cut out 2-D or 3-D objects depicting something that they loved or made their heart happy. The student’s visually expressed art form excluded a part(s) of the background, middle ground, or foreground. The student showed very little understanding of “whole space."

Part 2- Assessment
The child should be able to communicate to the class the idea of his /her piece of artwork and why his/her piece -makes his/her heart happy.- Individual communication with the teacher may be allowed for students that have a difficult time with group presentations.

Create a checklist of student names and indicate on this checklist with a check mark that the child was able to use his piece of art to communicate the idea, "What makes his/her heart happy." Students who cannot express the idea shown in their artwork should receive a minus and then receive individual feedback and help concerning their artwork and the communication of the idea.

*Note that this assessment is to satisfy the first part of VA.B.1.1.2. only.


This lesson could easily be extended into painting. When teaching this lesson, I extended the discussion and artist history in the upper grades.

Web Links

Web supplement for Drawing With Scissors like Matisse

Web supplement for Drawing With Scissors like Matisse

Web supplement for Drawing With Scissors like Matisse

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