Art Classes: Level II

Level II-Art Lesson 13: The Polish Szopka

Use complementary colors to create an exciting palette for a holiday greeting card

Art Lesson Description:

Every December, the city of Krakow, Poland, holds a contest. Contestants create incredibly intricate model buildings and cover them with foil. Many of the models include lights and moving figures. Polish people call such models a szopka (pronounced shawpka). On the day of the contest, the models are brought to the city square to be judged and displayed in a hall near the square. The display draws huge crowds from around the world.

The lesson comes in two versions. In Version A:

  • Students will use liquid acrylic paint to paint the szopka,
  • Outline the drawing with a silver metallic marker, and
  • To add a little extra holiday sparkle, paint the picture with acrylic glitter glaze!

In Version B, a simpler version of the lesson:

  • Students will use washable markers to color the szopka.
  • To add interst to the background, they will draw with a paint pen (easier to use) or an oil pastel.
  • To add a little extra holiday sparkle, paint the picture with acrylic glitter glaze!

Make it a greeting card! Why keep the project to yourself when you have finished it? The lesson includes instructions so you can put your szopka “on display” by turning it into a greeting card. With this lesson you can mail your art to your friends!


This lesson was written in response to a request from David Maehren for a special holiday event at The Arts of Kenmore, Kenmore, WA. We are happy to be able to share it with everyone! 

List of Supplies for Version A                 List of Supplies for Version B

1 copy of the szopka warm-up 1 copy of the szopka warm-up
1 copy of the szopka warm-up 1 copy of the szopka warm-up
1 silver metallic marker 1 paint pen--your choice of color
1 sheet of 11 x 14” watercolor paper 1 sheet of 8.5" x 11" drawing paper
4-6 colors of liquid acrylic paint 1 set of washable markers
#6 round watercolor brush  
1" or 1/2” flat watercolor brush  
Clear acrylic glitter glaze  
Masking tape  
Drawing board (12" x 16" masonite)  

Suggestions for Cross-Curricular Connections:

Social Studies:

  • The szopka tradition began in the Middle Ages. Learn its history
  • Krakow was once the capitol of Poland. Read about its history.
  • See a map of Krakow
  • See a map of the whole country of Poland

Polish Culture:

Approximate Time to Complete the Art Class:

  • Drawing the szopka: 25 minutes
  • Painting the szopka: 50 minutes
  • Adding the silver outline and the glitter paint: 15 minute


Original Image
Original Image
Finished--marker version
Finished--marker version
Finished--paint lesson
Finished--paint lesson

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