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At Keys, Art is approached as a discovery process involving observation, imagination, experimentation, and problem solving. Daily classes include a lively mix of guided practice and free exploration. Teachers work to foster a collaborative and respectful environment in which both process and product are valued. “Mistakes” are merely opportunities; experimentation and risk-taking are the norm; and creativity and self-expression are of primary importance.

Key artists and works are used throughout the years to promote a more expansive historical and global perspective, as students consider the ways in which art both reflects and shapes culture. Art instruction often interweaves with units of study in other classrooms, affording students meaningful opportunities to develop, expand, and/or demonstrate understanding across disciplines.

Highlights of the program include:


  • » Explore a variety of media
  • » Experiment with tearing, pasting, cutting, painting and drawing
  • » Practice composition, arranging images and objects for clarity and interest
  • » Learn the color wheel and mix colors for various effects
  • » Observe and draw anything using line and shape

First Grade

  • » Engage in visual storytelling
  • » Develop an understanding of processes and themes of abstract art
  • » Use iPad apps to explore digital painting
  • » Use a variety of media for collage and printmaking
  • » Build and create three-dimensional works

Second Grade

  • » Observe facial structure and draw self-portraits
  • » Manipulate size and scale to add emphasis or dynamism to works
  • » Develop an understanding of techniques and themes of folk art
  • » Combine shapes to create landscapes and cityscapes
  • » Experiment with oil pastel and watercolor techniques (smear, wet-on-wet, layer)
  • » Use design and pattern to create visually interesting art (scroll art)

Third Grade

  • » Draw the human figure with a focus on proportion, pose, gesture drawing
  • » Use positive and negative space to train the eye of the viewer
  • » Add emphasis, using color or composition to highlight an area or object
  • » Refine painting skills, using color and light to create feeling or mood
  • » Experiment with design principles (symmetry, focal point, visual flow)
  • » Draw with one-point perspective to create the illusion of depth

Fourth Grade

  • » Refine portraiture, incorporating realistic or exaggerated facial features
  • » Experiment with Abstract Expressionism, creating art inspired by emotions
  • » Develop more advanced painting skills (dripping, layering)
  • » Create dynamic drawings that appear to move, squash or stretch
  • » Learn animation techniques using flip books and software on the computer/iPad

Fifth Grade

  • » Experiment with portraiture using watercolor
  • » Practice advanced illustration techniques
  • » Learn ceramic techniques (coil, pinch, slab)
  • » Build clay animals based on indigenous traditions
  • » Develop appropriate ways of giving and receiving critiques
  • » Explore landscape painting using acrylics

Sixth Grade

  • » Explore realistic landscape painting techniques from Asian art
  • » Create African-inspired masks with mixed media
  • » Make Kachina dolls from the Native American tradition
  • » Experiment with Egyptian hieroglyphic techniques
  • » Build found object sculptures using recycled materials

Seventh Grade

  • » Practice one- and two-point perspective drawing with pencil, pen and ink
  • » Create landscapes and cityscapes using analogous color
  • » Experiment with still life, drawing parallels between master and personal works
  • » Learn techniques for adding contour and texture in paintings
  • » Study American painting from 1930s-present (action painting, pop art)

Eighth Grade

  • » Use advanced two-point perspective to create overhead views
  • » Study and experiment with design principles used in media
  • » Explore atmospheric use of paint (capturing effects of haze, mist, clouds)
  • » Refine techniques related to human figure drawing and painting
  • » Create works of art that define the artist as social commentator
Keys School - Lower Campus · 2890 Middlefield Road · Palo Alto, CA · 94306
Keys School - Middle Campus · 3981 El Camino Real · Palo Alto, CA · 94306

Phone: 650-328-1711