Cheerful Past and Future Hands Level: 1-4


Past and Future Hands

Art Lesson Plan by Lynn Arnsperger



Beyond teaching art, you are also teaching your students how to grow up and mature in the world we live in. One important way to do that is to both celebrate their past and help them look forward to the future. This project will allow you to do just that by having your students reflect on their past and what aspects of their life have been the most important so far, while also having them consider their future and begin to set goals for what it may hold. And you can simultaneously teach them about key components of art such as color, lines, and space.

Many people even recommend this project as a good art therapy technique. This lesson plan can be especially useful for people of all ages who wish to find perspective and clarity in their lives. If you feel stuck in any way where you currently are in life, it could be beneficial to look back and consider how you got to this point and how you can change things going forward.



Students will organize graphics representing who they are and what they’re about. On one hand they will show things about their past. On the other hand they will show things their represents goals and where they want to be in the future. This is a good project for positive thinking. Students will also work with color, directional lines, and positive and negative space.



Anchor Standard #2
-Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.

Anchor Standard #5
-Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.

Anchor Standard #8
-Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.

Anchor Standard #11
-Relate artistic ideas and work with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.



Students will think of things that represent them and what they like to do, such as: arts, sports, books, their house, outdoors, family and pets, etc. First have them vocalize their ideas. Grades 3 and up can work from a rough draft list. Students will trace their hands and then, working from their list, they should design their past hand and their future hand, using three different sizes and things coming from different directions. Student should consider positive and negative space as well.


Step 1:
Have students think about their past and make a list of what represents them: their activities, family, friends, arts, sports, etc. Anything having to do with their past. Then have them make a list of where they see themselves in the future and what their goals are, such as career, where they want to live and travel, things they would like to do, and family.

Past and Future Hands Art Lesson Plan


Step 2:
Trace their left and right hand with thumbs pointing to the center. Label the left hand “my past” and label the right hand “my future”. Outline hands with black sharpie marker.

Past and Future Hands Art Lesson Plan


Step 3:
Referring back to the mental or physical lists they made, have students draw pictures representing their past on the left hand and pictures representing their future on the right hand. As they’re working on this, talk to them about positive and negative space and encourage them to let their pictures overlap and flow into each other.

Past and Future Hands Art Lesson Plan


Step 4:
Using crayons, colored pencils, or markers, have students color in their hands. Encourage them to use bright, fun colors to highlight all of the great aspects of both their past and their future. When finished, they may also go back and outline their pictures with a thin tipped sharpie if desired.

Past and Future Hands Art Lesson Plan


*Don’t forget to put student name and year on the drawing, at least one inch away from the outside border.*

To use this lesson as an art fundraiser, go to

Required Materials

  • 01Display My Art drawing paper
  • 02Pencil
  • 03Markers
  • 04Crayons
  • 05Colored Pencils
  • 06Sharpie Marker
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