Lauren Hodson | July 2017

Notans: Arts Integration Idea

Notans are perfect for symmetry, problem solving, critical thinking, Elements of Art, and can fit into any content area. You start with just a simple square of paper and it expands into an exciting work of art.  If you’re looking for an innovative and fresh way to integrate the arts into a variety of content areas, you’ll want to try this technique!

What are Notans?

The word Notan is a Japanese term for the balance and relationship between light and dark. Made using minimal materials, they pack a big punch in their effect.

You can make these using organic and geometric shapes, or they can have a theme such as wildlife, cultural imagery, and literary concepts. They are flexible in their application and are wonderful to add to your collection of artistic ideas for any age.  Notans also happen to be a perfect technique for arts integration and STEAM.  You can connect science, social studies, literature and math all within one lesson!  And the connective vocabulary helps to build schema and background knowledge.

View this video of how to make a Notan HERE.


  • Black paper (Square)
  • White paper (Larger Square or Rectangle)
  • Pencils (can be colored pencils to show up on construction paper)
  • Scissors
  • Glue Sticks

Visual Art Terms

  • Positive/Negative Space
  • Balance
  • Shape
  • Line
  • Composition
  • Symmetry
  • Asymmetry

Lesson Plan Links

  • Notan Art Lesson (Create Art With Me) HERE
  • Notan Asymmetrical Tessellations (Incredible Art Department) HERE
  • Notan: Studies in Contrast (Davis Art) HERE
  • Natural Notan (Dick Blick) HERE

The next time you want to switch up your artistic techniques, try to incorporate Notans. They are complex, creative, and fascinating!

About the Author

Lauren Hodson is a middle school visual and computer art educator in Plymouth, Massachusetts. As a mentor teacher and professional development presenter, Lauren is passionate about creativity and making art accessible for everyone. Her passions in STEAM and Arts Integration are at the root of her goal to collaborate with classroom teachers everywhere.