Koru Paintings


The Maori culture of New Zealand creates beautiful pieces of artwork featuring Koru designs. Master this motif in a colorful painting.


1. A Koru is a curved shape representing a baby fern frond. The Maori culture of New Zealand uses this motif in their artwork.

2. The Koru symbolizes new birth and growth. Look at pictures of fern plants ready to unfurl. What shape do the plants make? Compare the ferns to samples of Maori art. Use a colored pencil to practice making Koru on a piece of construction paper.

3. To design a Koru painting, use a colored pencil to sketch one large Koru on a piece of construction paper. Draw two smaller Koru on either side of the larger one.

4. Using a paintbrush, paint each Koru a different color. Use another color to fill in the background. Try a hard-edge style of painting by using a flat watercolor brush loaded with paint to create even strokes and to build up an even bead (thick edge) around the color. To keep colors from blending, allow an area to dry before applying wet paint to adjacent areas.

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.


  • The Maori culture is rich and varied. They create a variety of traditional arts such as carvings, weaving, kapa haka (group performance) and whaikorero (oratory). Research one of these art forms.
  • Where in the world is New Zealand? New Zealand was the last land mass to be discovered on earth. Look up information on the geography of this diverse nation.
  • New Zealand’s national emblem is the kiwi bird. The Maori named the bird for the sound it makes – "Kiwi! Kiwi! Kiwi!" What can you find out about this unique bird?

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

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crayola supplies
  • Colored Pencils
  • Washable Kid's Paint
  • Art Smock
  • Watercolor Brushes with Plastic Handle
  • Construction Paper
household supplies
  • recycled newspaper
  • paper towels
  • water



  • Grades 4 to 6


  • Social Studies
  • Visual Arts


  • Multiple Sessions


  • Students learn the history of New Zealand’s Maori and their Koru designs.

  • Students replicate the Koru motif in a drawing.

  • Students use a hard-edge style of painting in a Koru painting project.


Research Canada Standards
Research UK Standards
Research U.S. Standards