Stained Glass Shapes

Lesson adapted from Susan Riley's Lesson Seeds, EducationCloset

Key Vocabulary

  • Stained Glass/Leaded Glass
  • Shape names (circle, square, triangle, diamond, rectangle, etc.)
  • Layer


  • Images of Frank Lloyd Wright's stained glass window examples ("March Balloons" and "Saguaro" are good)
  • KolorFast® Tissue Assortment
  • Tru-Ray® Construction Paper, Black, item #103029
  • Pacon® Protecto Film™, item #0072340
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Stained glass / Leaded glass
  • Shape names (circle, square, triangle, diamond, rectangle, etc.)
  • Layer


Students will create a stained glass window design that includes composite shapes using layers.


1.GA.A.2 - Compose two-dimensional shapes to create a composite shape, and compose new shapes from the composite shape.

MA:Re.7.1.1 - Identify components and messages in media artworks.


Step 01

Study some examples of Frank Lloyd Wright's stained glass windows. Ask students to use the iNotice3 arts integration strategy to carefully observe the artwork.

Step 02

Have students observe and identify the shapes in the artwork, and name as many of them as possible. Direct students' attention toward composite shapes, and have them describe the shapes that makeup the composite shape.

Step 03

Ask students to select one of the shapes they identified and notice how many times that shape repeats within the stained glass artwork. Ask students to notice the variations of each of the times that shape appears. Does its length, width, height, color, etc. change?

Step 04

Finally, ask students to notice how that shape is layered within the stained glass. Is the shape on top of another shape? Are all the shapes on one layer? Why would the artist choose to design the art how they did? How did the artist use light shining through the window in his art choice?


Step 01

Model how to cut tissue paper into desired shapes and design a stained glass window. Encourage students to explore how other shapes can be made by cutting certain shapes in half, such as cutting a square in half diagonally to make two triangles. Using paper punches is a quick and easy way to cut out multiple tissue paper shapes.

Step 02

Using their observations from Frank Lloyd Wright's work, have students map out their stained glass window design on a piece of paper the same size as their contact paper. Ask students to use at least two different shapes in their designs.

Step 03

Once the design is mapped out on paper, provide contact paper and model how to attach the tissue to the contact paper, pointing out the use of layers, and how layers help form composite shapes.

Step 04

Provide students with a second layer of contact paper to go over the tissue shapes (sticky side down).

Step 05

Use black construction paper to make a frame for their stained glass design. Adhere the frame to the contact paper with tape.

Step 06

Hang student artwork in a window, and observe how the light interacts with the design to show overlapping shapes and composite shapes.


Have students share their stained glass window designs by describing the shapes they chose, the composite shapes that were created, and how they used layers in their design.

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