Paper Weaving

I find that paper is a good way to introduce kids to weaving as the patterns are more visible than with yarn. And I keep running across many 4th and 5th graders who have never tried any kind weaving, so I have concluded that this media gets overlooked way too often. 1. I did myself a … Read More

Collage Name Card

Lately I’ve been inspired by scrapbook artists and the layered-looking collages they often create. This project lets students get creative and colorful with the letters in their name. SESSION ONE 1. Cut enough 9″ x 12″ drawing paper into fourths measuring 4.5″ x 6″ to furnish each student with one page for each letter in their … Read More

Arcimboldo “Fruit Face”

Giuseppe Arcimboldo was an Italian artist from the 1500s who spent years working as an official court painter. He developed a style of composing portraits from fruits, vegetables, etc., which was uniquely his own. There’s a great book about him called “Fruit Face” which is what I used to introduce this lesson. 1. Find lots of … Read More

California Collage

    My experience with collage is that students enjoy them, but often have trouble filling a paper in one class session. I thought that if they all work on one large project, they might stay on task a little better. I’ve made a large multi-page California template that measures about 30″ tall. • View and download California … Read More

Lettering on Acetate

My afterschool students practiced their lettering with acetate tracings, mounted to photo backgrounds.   1. I printed out this quote “Every Child is an Artist’ using Fink Gothic typeface, graying the lines to make the tracing more readable. Students placed a sheet of acetate over it and traced the letters with a black permanent marker. 2. Sharpie … Read More

Popsicle Stick Cabins

These new little popsicle sticks (they’re 2 1/2″ long) that I found at Michael’s remind me of my parent’s log cabin in Tennessee. Here’s one way to make little houses that could serve well as colorful refrigerator magnets. Or add some snow and a string for a holiday decoration? Let your imagination see what it can … Read More

Graffiti Lettering

I wanted to introduce my afterschool kids to some very hip-looking lettering styles and new art supplies, so this was their project today. 1. Students were given a paper printout with bubble-style alphabet (about 2″ high) that I found online, a sheet of acetate, and black Sharpie marker. They traced their name, overlapping the edges as shown. … Read More

Wet-on-Wet Watercolor Flowers

One thing that watercolor paint loves to do is run together. Instead of fighting that tendency, I showed my students how they can make “puddles” their friend by painting lots of irregular spots, some overlapping, which could later be outlined as delicate little flowers. 1. Flower spots of varying sizes and colors are painted on the … Read More

Hundertwasser Portrait on Sticks

I’m hooked on the Vienna artist Hundertwasser, so I thought I would try combining his style with my popsicle portrait project. I think his art has a kind of layered marker look to it so it seemed like a good match. 1. It seems that Hundertwasser had a real aversion to straight lines, so I thought … Read More

Art Trading Cards, or ATCs

Art Trading Cards are miniature works of art (2.5″ x 3.5″) that fit inside standard plastic card sleeves. This type of art was started in Switzerland in 1996 and grew out of an interest in mail art. ATCs are now produced all over the world in various media, including pencils, pens, markers, watercolor, acrylic paints, collage, … Read More

Geometric Print Man

When introducing printmaking to young students, it helps to keep things simple. Sometimes the most striking images are the result. 1. Each student should receive one 9″ x 12″ chipboard, a smaller piece of posterboard for the body, scissors and white glue. Instruct the students to cut geometric shapes from the posterboard to make a figure … Read More

David Hockney Landscape

David Hockney, a contemporary artist living in Los Angeles, created photocollages in the 1980s, compiling a ‘complete’ picture from a series of individually photographed details. You can get a similar effect using one photo, cutting it up and loosely putting it back together again. 1. Start with a magazine photo, nature themes are nice to work … Read More

Homemade “Oscars”

Sometimes unusual requests lead to new discoveries. This time a parent was looking for student-made awards for an event he was hosting. I found a pretty easy way for a class of 2nd graders to make these “Oscars”. PREP: A small amount of clay was stuck in the bottom of a baby food jar. I used … Read More

April Fool’s Eye Glasses

Here’s a popular project I thought I’d repost before April 1st. The glasses are pretty much guaranteed to create lots of giggles, just be sure that children don’t try to do much more than pose in them. • View and download Glasses Template 1. Follow my link to download a template I’ve posted for the glass … Read More

Dino Skeleton Plaster Casts

I believe that kinders in CA are learning about dinosaurs right about now. This project is a great combination of art and science. PREP for each student: • Plastic dinosaurs skeletons from Oriental Trading Company • 5″ square of cardboard • 11″ x 2″ strip of heavy weight white paper • stapler • 2.5″ ball of … Read More

Tinted Ugly Bunny

One of the arts standards for elementary students is learning how to tint colors by adding white. My students had fun making bunnies that didn’t have to look perfect and symmetrical.   CLASS ONE: 1. On a large (12″ x 19″) sheet of brown paper, student drew a large “ugly” bunny. The definition of ugly in … Read More

Sticker Art Trading Cards

Sometimes kid’s creativity just blows me away. I brought round colored stickers to my Art Trading Card class today, thinking that everyone could make art with just circles. Then one very clever boy started cutting up the stickers to make these amazing cards, including this tiger and electric guitar.   1. I passed out 2.5″ x … Read More

Camouflage Painting

Can you see the student’s hand in this picture? My 2nd graders had such fun doing this project! After studying camouflage, they had this chance to literally put themselves in their artwork.  Prep work: I first mounted letter-size white paper to larger sheets of cardboard so that the painting could easily be moved around. I also … Read More

Russian Buildings

Architecture drawing is a really fun area to explore with children. I’ve seen many students that have little or no interest in drawing people make the most amazing drawings of buildings. 1. I printed 1/4″ graph lines on large format 11″ x 17″ paper, but you could go to Free Online Graph Paper and print your … Read More

Colored Pencil Apple Drawing

Did you know that good colored pencils can actually blend together like oil pastels do? I didn’t until I purchased some new supplies. 1. Demonstrate a simple line drawing of an apple sitting on a table and ask your students to draw their own, in pencil. 2. Show students how to “glaze” a drawing by coloring … Read More

Monet Pastel Iris Drawing

An on-going dilemma I face is how to help students draw new shapes, without giving them too much help. My current solution is to give them partial templates, so that they all have a good starting place to build upon. With these Monet-inspired Irises, the students were given just the center lower leaf as a template, … Read More

Dr. Seuss Signs

Our school has a Dr. Seuss celebration each year, and with our modular classroom set up in California, we have a lot of long outdoor halls without much signage. I had students make up their own to add color and creativity to our school. 1. I started with large sheets of white foam core, and chopped … Read More

Symmetrical Valentine Birds

I showed students how to create texture in their watercolor paintings, just by sprinkling a little salt while the paint was still wet. The salt absorbs the water and leaves interesting patterns behind. 1. Start by drawing the heart in the upper center of the paper. Students drew the birds in steps to make them the … Read More

Hearts & Trees

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright told his students, “Limits are an artist’s best friend.” That’s because they force us to find answers we might not otherwise have discovered. 1. Students are to draw a picture with only one tree, one simple hill, and hearts that may be any size, and any place on the picture. No sun, … Read More

“Cool Shades” Drawing

I like to give students photos of items as a kind of drawing prompt. In this case I was looking for images of sunglasses, and came across these heart shades, just in time for Valentine’s Day. 1. I found a variety of images by just Googling “photos of sunglasses”. These heart glasses are particularly great as they … Read More

Tiki Faces

Drawing a Tiki face is all about making symmetrical shapes, and usually captures the attention of some of the more “restless” students. 1. Give the students a sheet of brown construction paper, and ask them to fold it in half vertically so they know where the center of their face will be. Using the sample Tiki … Read More

How to Draw Cartoon Faces

The great thing about cartoon drawing is that it is simply meant to “suggest” things like eyes, nose, hair, etc. I have plans for a big comic book project with my students next week and feel that starting with some practice drawings like the above will help them stay on track and not get overly detailed.

Ceramic Snowman

Sometimes the simplest of projects can turn out to be anything but. My students loved making these snowman, but they did turn out to be a challenge in making clay pieces connect to each other. Whether it was a nose or hat or head, we all learned a lot about what it takes to keep clay … Read More

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