Draw a Hand Tree

I saw this idea on Artsonia.com, and love showing kids how lines can give dimension to their art. 1. The students first trace their hand on a piece of paper. When finished, they should make the tops of their fingers very pointy. 2. Vertical lines are drawn as shown. The more irregular they are, the better. … Read More

Vegetable Garden Watercolor Painting

I found this idea for painting vegetables over at Artsonia.com. If anyone would like to take credit for creating it, please let me know. I’ve painted plant roots before, but never colorful vegetables – it’s a great idea. 1. On watercolor paper, students draw in pencil a horizontal line across the middle of the page. They … Read More

Color Pattern Leaves

This is a good exercise for developing small motor skills. 1. Student traced at least two of their favorite leaf templates on a tabloid sheet of paper. Veins were added to divide the leaf up into large sections. 2. All their lines were traced with a black marker. Within each leaf shape, students drew a pattern … Read More

Kinder Pattern Project

posted in: Kindergarten, Markers | 0

I’m guessing that as an art teacher I’m not the first to overestimate the abilities of my students. I’m never more aware of this than when new kinders come to my room at the beginning of a school year. Some are semi-prepared from preschool, but some are not. So as much as I want to dig … Read More

Pin Flowers

This project came from an Arts and Activities magazine, and I loved how well it worked with kinders. 1. The students are to draw in pencil near the outside edge of the paper a rounded box (kind of like a TV screen). A zig-zag grass line follows near the bottom of the paper. For the flowers, … Read More

Doodle Summer Self Portrait

I like to have my first art project of the year somehow acknowledge all that has happened over the summer. I’m going to try a doodle self-portrait and ask students to tell their summer story with just visual cues; i.e. a bracelet made in camp, mosquito bite from the lake, etc. I hope the loose style … Read More

Back to School Decorated Pencils

Here’s one quick way for your kids to get creative and personalize their back-to-school pencils. I just pulled out my handy-dandy stash of Sharpies and tried a few different looks: animal skin, flowers and stripes. I’m sure kids could think of many more. Fish scales? Reptile skin?… 1. You may have read on my “Favorite Supplies” … Read More

Close Crop Portrait

One way to simplify portrait drawing is to start with a large U instead of an oval. 1. Start with a square drawing paper. With a pencil, follow the steps shown in the diagram to the right. Remind students that our eyes are located in the middle of our heads, but because of this cropping, they … Read More

Cut and Tear Cityscape Collage

This comes from “The Usborne Book of Art Skills” which has a ton of great art ideas. 1. Begin with a description of neutral colors, which are the only ones used in this collage. Give the studentsa 9″ x 12″ sheet of white paper and several of neutral construction paper (black, brown, tan, gray, etc.) I … Read More

Soup Can Paper Mache Owl

During my visit to Art Creation Foundation for Children in Haiti, I was overwhelmed by the quality of paper mache art that the children had made. My favorite purchase was this owl (above right) that I’m told is painted with voodoo patterns. While I love the detail of it, I decided to see if I could … Read More

Doodle Lettering

There are some really cool new paper-like products out these days. I found YUPO at DickBlick.com, which looks like vellum but feels like plastic. It’s great to paint on or trace with markers. 1. Students draw large stick letters for their name on copy paper, and then trace around those lines to make block letters. The … Read More

Back To School Self Portraits

I’d been exploring ideas for a back-to-school project combining art with story telling much like a popular art journal technique, in larger scale. This project which combines a self portrait with a composition about the students summer experience has become popular with the kids and their teachers. • View and download Body Template 1. Students draw … Read More

“My Hand” Collage

I’m experimenting with different ways for students to start the school year off with an expressive project. Aside from drawing their faces, tracing their hands and making a collage / painting can make some very colorful and individualistic art. And most classroom teachers love having colorful art right away to fill their classroom walls. 1. Using … Read More

Beans in a CD Case Experiment

A friend suggested this idea of growing beans in a CD case, and I loved it immediately! Think of it as the world’s skinniest terrarium. My experiment is to see how long the plant can grow in this narrow environment. So far, so good, with wet potting mix soil, 3 seeds and a fat clear CD … Read More

Fish Tessellation

A tessellation is a collection of shapes that fill a paper with no overlaps and no gaps. I like the math and artistic skills they require, and am happy to say that this design is my very own. 1. Start with a card stock square, at least 3″ wide. Label the four corners. Measure and mark … Read More

Overlapping Rings

posted in: 3rd Grade, 4th Grade | 11

This can be a great exercise for drawing overlapping shapes. Use new rolls of masking tape for tracing – they are easy to hold and grip the paper. 1. Starting with a large sheet of drawing paper (I recommend 12″ x 18″) have each student draw many rings by tracing both sides of a masking tape … Read More

Woven Cup Holder Tutorial

I experimented with an idea from my “Crafts for Kids” magazine, and came up with this recycled magazine cup holder. It’s created by weaving around a water bottle, so a good fit is pretty much guaranteed. And you probably already have all the supplies to make one … or more. 1. Tear out seven pages from … Read More

Art Trading Cards

Art Trading Cards, also known as ATC’s, have been popping up everywhere as a means to create small-scale art that can easily be collected and traded. 1. Purchase many packets of 2.75″ x 3.75″ plastic trading card sleeves for each student. They generally cost just a penny each. Provide lots of construction paper that is already … Read More

Toucan Painting

When young students are just learning how to paint, large size paper really helps allow for more freedom of movement. 1. Starting with approx. 18″ x 24″ drawing paper, students draw the bird body, beak and legs. A branch is added below 2. All of the drawing lines are traced with a thick black permanent marker. … Read More

Batik Baskets

One way to give any crayon piece of art an aged look is to crinkle it up in your hands, smooth it out, and paint over with watercolor. The paint goes in the cracks and makes a pseudo-batik look. 1. I gave students paper with the outline of a basket shape already in place so they … Read More

Paper Mache Bowl

Paper-mache projects can work really well with any upcoming Earth Day themes. My favorite recipe for the mache is included below. 1. Tape a balloon to a heavy bowl so that is doesn’t move. Apply strips of newspaper covered in mache in both directions. Apply 2 – 3 layers. Allow to dry for several days. 2. … Read More

How to Draw City Buildings

The very first lesson in perspective is learning to draw depth. This is basically turning squares into cubes, and making a city skyline.  1. It’s very helpful for the students to draw on paper that has light grid lines already on it. I made my own, but you could go to Free Online Graph Paper and … Read More

Keith Haring Drawing

Keith Haring was one of the first artists to mix street art with the world of high art back in the 1980s. He got his start by decorating billboards in New York subway stations. 1. I had some drawing manikins that I inherited from a previous teacher, and figured out how to remove the base and … Read More

Fruity People Collage

One CA Visual Art Standard centers around how to create feelings with one’s own artwork. This book “How Are You Peeling?” is full of some very creative photographs of fruit and vegetables, all made to reflect a wide variety of emotions. Reading it first helps to make connections that certain shapes can look a lot like … Read More

CD Case Diorama

Here’s one more recycle project – using a CD case, cardboard boxes, and dried beans. 1. Collect clean cardboard packages, such as those used for cereal, crackers, pencils and markers. Open them up and cut out simple vehicle shapes, along with mountains, trees and sun. 2. Glue a small amount of dried beans to the inside … Read More

Egg Decorating from Macedonia

posted in: 4th Grade, 5th Grade | 0

Lila Arsova, a teacher from Veles, Macedonija, recently sent me this wonderful series of photos showing how she decorated her eggs with some very colorful springtime napkins. I think her step-by-step pictures say it all, and cross any language barrier that might come between us. I personally have never seen any treatment quite like this, and … Read More

Rainbow Painting

This project offers students a chance to practice either wet-on-wet or dry brush watercolor painting. I used both for my sample.  1. I had the students paint without the aid of a pencil outline. They began by painting the grass across the bottom of the sheet. 2. Students who preferred the wet-on-wet rainbow painted the red arc, then orange, yellow, green, blue and … Read More

Baby Plant Craft

A parent recently donated a LOT of baby food jars, so I’ve been playing around with some different ideas. This comes purely from supplies that were on hand: peat moss, grass seed, and white paint marker. I wrote a simple message so the roots could still be seen, but a row of clear grassy jars would … Read More

Jasper Johns Painting

posted in: 4th Grade, 5th Grade | 0

Jasper Johns is an American artist whose richly covered number paintings like this, rose to prominence in the 1950s. I created this project so students could make a miniature version, and recycle an old CD case as well. 1. Six 1 1/2″ foam numbers or letters are arranged on an old CD case, the 1/4″ thick … Read More

Grocery Bag Paper Chain

Paper chain art seems to be most commonly associated with gum wrappers, as was popular in the 1960s. I’ve found that the process of folding and linking paper chains to be extremely successful and satisfying for students as young as 2nd graders. The sample shown here is made from a Trader Joe’s grocery bag, cut into … Read More

Fun with William Wegman

William Wegman is a photographer famous for his compositions with his Weimaraner dogs. His fascination with humanizing his animals has created hundreds of amazing videos and photographs. I like his book shown here as it shows the dogs in many everyday poses. 1. Print Dog Head template and gave each student a strip that contains 4 … Read More

Bleach Pen Jeans

There seems to be lots of decorative art in fashion these days (think peasant / ethnic wear) and this is a good way to imitate that look without using a single needle or thread. 1. As part of a weekend class, I had students bring in an old pair of jeans. They first planned their decoration … Read More

Watercolor Sheep

I love almost anything that children paint with watercolor. This is a simple watercolor resist, done with sheep imagined on a hillside. 1. The students are to draw, as lightly as they can, three to five ovals (the sheep bodies) in pencil on watercolor paper. 2. A white crayon is used to color heavily inside all … Read More

Pattern Snake Template

A tip from a teacher led me to this coil snake project, which I have recreated on my computer. The original called for drawing on paper plates, but I prefer to print my pattern shown 110 lb. stock to save a whole lotta time. • View and download Pattern Snake PDF file 1. Kinder students and … Read More

La Boca House Collage

La Boca is a neighborhood, or barrio of the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires and is a popular destination because of its colorful houses. Looking at lots of photos of these amazing buildings is a good way to start this project. 1. I discovered these really cool Fiskar paper crimpers at JoAnn Fabrics, and brought several to … Read More

Laurel Burch Cat Heads

This cat project was inspired by a talented artist named Laurel Burch, who sadly passed away recently. She had a wonderful style of drawing abstract cats with large eyes that met in the middle. 1. Ask students to make three dots (in pencil) across the center of a paper. The 3 dots are connected to make … Read More

Simple Starry Night

I like having students make their own simplified version of famous paintings, which can encourage their appreciation of the original. 1. View Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, and discuss the composition; the foreground tree, the middle ground hills, and the background stars. 2. On a 12″ x 9″ turquoise paper, have the students draw their own simple … Read More

Drawing Class Tips

I’ve been holding afterschool drawing classes for a few semesters now, and I’d love to share a few things that seem to be working pretty well. Whether you’re looking for extra income or just volunteer ideas, here’s what might help you run your own class, should you be interested. 1. I start with a quick exercise … Read More

Custom Light Switch Plates

I saw this project in an Arts and Activities magazine. When your fridge and walls are already filled with your child’s art, have them paint your switch plates! 1. Your local hardware or home improvement store carries plastic switch plates for every need and they’re quite inexpensive. Provide the students with lots of acrylic paint and … Read More

Bernard Hoyes-Inspired Dancing Lady

Jamaican-born artist Bernard Hoyes is a Caribbean national who has served his country well. Now residing in California, Hoyes is among the most widely collected and exhibited of contemporary artists. Through his art, many have been able to connect with Jamaica’s colorful traditions and culture. 1. Past experience has proven that students almost always draw images … Read More

Andrew Goldsworthy Land Art

posted in: 4th Grade, 5th Grade | 1

Andy Goldsworthy is a brilliant British artist who collaborates with nature to make his creations. Go to his website to view his gallery of breathtaking art. Teaching in a city school, I wanted to bring in a little nature against our urban pallet.

California Collage with PDF Template

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. The file may be downloaded HERE. 1. To … Read More

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