Teaching with D&D: D&D for Kids - Art Lesson #5

Updated: Apr 6

My favorite trip as a school teacher was when I brought my class to the Philadelphia Art Museum. The enjoyment of seeing and creating art is a skill some would say. Where is better to learn that skill outside of school? The Philly Art Museum!! Actually, most major museums have outstanding educational programs and after public libraries, museums are one of the best community resources. I signed up my class for a “Math in Art” class because that seemed pretty cool. I can’t find that class on their website now as the class has probably been updated to the “STEAM in Art” class they currently offer. The exact lesson plan escapes my memory, but I remember learning about perspectives and how we see the golden ratio almost everywhere in art. Everyone left feeling smarter as a new way to look art and the world had been introduced.

Art can be a broad subject, and it’s fun to show students its many facets. Consider teaching shapes, colors, spaces, patterns and perspectives. So how do we bring art teaching to Dungeons & Dragons (D&D)? You could ask your player-students to draw their own characters, create their own banners, or draw a scene that your adventurers have encountered. You could work on designing weapon modifications or introduce architecture by having everyone create a building. You could even introduce some of the original art work that was created for the game, which has over 40 years of history. Let’s first show the artistic nature of mazes and labyrinths.


Lesson Plan #5: D&D and Art

Lesson Objective: Learn the difference between a maze and a labyrinth. Create a dungeon for a future D&D game.

1) Warm-Up: Say, “Artists and craftspeople work similarly to scientists, mathematicians, and engineers.” What does this statement mean? Answer: We all start by asking questions, defining problems, planning, practicing and then doing! (5 minutes max).

2) Teach: When was the first recorded maze or labyrinth in art? Answer: Over 4,000 years ago according to some sources. Search the Internet for images under: (mazes and labyrinths, Egypt and in Crete). Show different artworks that use mazes or labyrinths. Note the differences and similarities. Soon ask where we see all this in a D&D game? “Dungeons = mazes

Talk about how getting through mazes and labyrinths involve problems that can be solved. Creating each maze or labyrinth starts with an idea, then planning. How much space is there to work with? Will there be different rooms or areas? Traps? How wide will the passages be? Define the scale. Will there be geological features? How high is the ceiling? (15 minutes max, 2 examples)

Need some more materials? Check out this 15 page pdf about teaching labyrinths. Also, on this website there are a bunch of free basic printable mazes if you want to go that route. I love maps! Check out the free version of Inkarnate, which is an online map making tool. (10 minutes max)


Example #1) Have a completed maze/”dungeon” to discuss the different considerations that went into creating the design.

· Talk about the scale of the map

· Use orientation terms only: North, South, East and West

· What features does the Map Key to the maze define?

· How many rooms?

· Are there traps?

· Are there other special features?

· Are there dead-ends?


Example #2) On graph paper, start creating a dungeon together. What is the area’s length and width? Using your student’s input draw together. This time, emphasize the planning process. (“Lesson Main Point”)

· Change the scale of the map

· Use orientation terms only: North, South, East and West

· Create a Map Key to the dungeon that defines special features. (water, plants, cliffs, waterfalls, stalactites, terrain differences …)

· How many rooms?

· Are there traps?

· Are there dead-ends?


3) Player-Students Do: Ask your player-students again about the differences between mazes and labyrinths? Have them design their own dungeon complete with a map key. (remainder of time)

4) Assessment: Player-students will complete their own dungeon.

5) Extension: 1) If you previously drew a maze, now create a labyrinth and vice-a-versa. 2) What are “mandalas?” Try to create one! 3) How have innovations in the arts intersected with the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math? Do we see this in D&D? (Yes – the Artificer class is very Steam-punky)

Good luck with your D&D learning adventures, and I would love to read your comments below on your own D&D teaching experiences. Have trouble getting started? Let me know as I might be able to help.

This blog post is part of a series of “Teaching with D&D” free lesson plans and ideas for running D&D games for kids. It follows:

· Dungeons and Dragons in School?!?

· Fantastic/al D&D Lesson Plans - #1 Writing

· Magical Math D&D Lesson Plan #2

· Stealthy Social Studies Lesson Plan #3

· D&D for Kids - Science Lessons? #4

· D&D Strengthens Kid’s Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

· D&D for neurodivergent players?

Other cool posts I think you will like:

· How to Raise a Video Gamer

· The Best Ultimate Guide to Running Dungeons and Dragons Games for Kids

· Uhh Ohhhh……My Kid is a Murder Hobo!?!

Paul Lazrow is the founder and one of the Storytellers at Adventuring Portal, an online service that focuses on running live-guided fun, safe D&D games for kids. Find out more at AdventuringPortal.com.

player art: Potato, 11 year old, Dwarf Paladin

Great websites/sources I used when I wrote the above:

· Stanford Graduate School of Education’s https://www.youcubed.org/maths-and-art/

· Artful Maths.com (very in-depth downloadable Art + Math lessons) https://www.artfulmaths.com/mathematical-art-lessons.html

· PBS Learning Media (over 25 different Math + Art lessons, various grade levels) https://whyy.pbslearningmedia.org/collection/matharts/

· Education Week (this is a big 13 min read … but – very informative and bursting with useful ideas) https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/opinion-strategies-for-using-art-in-math-english-science-and-history/2021/10

· Design Boon (cool website, cool article on mazes and labyrinths https://www.designboom.com/art/labyrinths-the-art-of-the-maze-book-by-franco-maria-ricci-02-05-2014/

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