Impossibly Haunted Houses- Revisited

As funny as it may seem, Halloween is just around the corner, so I have decided to revisit a favorite lesson, with a slight alteration. As previously posted, this project involves drawing a haunted house that would be impossible to built. However, the last time I posted about this project, we had used a watercolor wash to complete the backgrounds. This time my fourth graders used a tissue paper bleed technique.

Materials: tissue paper, white tag 12" X 18", pencil, handouts showing architecture and Halloween items, black permanent marker (both thick and thin)

First, collect some colored tissue paper. Beware- not all tissue will bleed. Be sure to test it before you cut it up and hand it out to the students. (I am speaking from experience here!)

Have the students rip the tissue in to strips and lay it across their papers in a striated pattern.

Hand out water bottles and have students spritz their papers, lightly moistening the tissue.

Continue to add strips of tissue and spritzing the paper until it is covered.

You can allow the tissue to dry or peel it off after a few minutes to reveal the gorgeousness (that is a word in the art world, right?) left behind,

Some student backgrounds. LOVE them!

To draw the house on top, begin with large shapes that DO NOT TOUCH. This is the hardest part for the students to understand. You must leave a small space between each large piece of the house. This is part of what makes it "Impossible."

I hand out examples of windows, doors, roofs, and other architectural elements. We love using onion domes. Add the medium shapes at this point, saving the details for last.

Monsters, lightning, and other creepy crawlies are added last to make the project extra spooky.

Now, the students have to decide which things will be filled in black, creating a silhouette. Again, I have them begin with the largest pieces and work to the smallest. The design will work itself out this way- it will become obvious which things need to be colored and which will need to be left uncolored. Typically, we leave the windows uncolored so it looks like the lightning is coming through them.

Projects in process:

Some finished projects:

View more on our Artsonia site.


  1. I love this!! GREAT idea! And I love using the tissue paper technique; the kids think it's magic!

  2. These are fabulous! I cannot wait to try this project this Fall! Did it dry out those markers after all the classes colored in their houses? What an awesome way to teach positive and negative too!

  3. These are just great!!! i love the use of shape and different architectural elements! thanks for sharing!

  4. I am officially inspired and I'm going to put a link to your blog on my Teacher's T-Party blog. I hope that's ok. The art works are beautiful. I showed them to my 18yr old and it inspired her too. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I LOVE these so much!!!! This lesson has my fourth graders written all over it! What kind of black marker did you use?

  6. Do you have a sample of the handouts of architectural examples?? This is a great way to teach this project- Ive done it with the kids cutting out the haunted houses from black paper and it always ends up with frustrated students! Thanks for the idea!

  7. I love this lesson and want to try it, but I am a first year art teacher and I wonder if it would cause a little controversy. Have you ever had parents come to you with concerns about the "haunted" theme? If so, how did you respond? Thank you for sharing!!

  8. I do occasionally have some students who do not believe in Halloween or do not celebrate it. In those cases, I just have them make the house impossible, not haunted. They can still do the basic project, but modify it. They can add all the architectural elements and then add details, such as flowers, bushes, mail box, etc.

    Artsy Mama, I do have handouts, but they are not drawn by me. I just collected several examples of architectural elements and put them together. I wouldn't feel comfortable posting them here because I do not own the rights.



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