Torn Magazine Duck Collage

I adore torn edges. They have a way of making shapes that would never happen if you started cutting away with a pair of scissors. 1. Find two magazine pages with similar shades of yellow, and two with similar shades of orange. 2. Tear small shapes from both sheets of yellow and glue to make up … Read More

Color Wheel Download

I’ve found that most color wheels are either too complicated (lots of sections and subsections) or too simple (three overlapping balloons) for your average elementary student. My solution was to make my own, and also diagram primary, secondary, warm, cool and complementary colors. Enjoy!

Lichtenstein Style Portraits

Roy Lichtenstein was a prominent American pop artist who favored old fashioned comic strips as a subject matter. By using a pre-printed paper full of empty dots, you can make your own portrait – complete with graphic marker shading. 1. You can download my pdf template of empty dots. Start by lightly sketching your face with … Read More

Draw like Renoir

Auguste Renoir, a French Impressionist painter, was famous for his use of vibrant light and saturated color. This scratch art project is one way to play simulate that look of bright light on a sunny day. 1. I used the 24 pack of Portfolio brand oil pastels as they provide the soft covering needed for scratching away layers … Read More

Layered Paper Weaving

I’ve found the “over and under” concept of weaving is easiest to learn when using strips paper. Yarn gets tangled too easily and takes time to show patterned results. 1. This sample was made from Strathmore “Smooth Bright Construction Paper” tablet as it has sturdy paper in great colors. To create the “warp” paper, have an … Read More

Drawing a Shaded Swan

I’m finding that many readers are interested in my drawing tutorials, I would just like to find a standard way to present them across Blogger, Pinterest, Facebook and Google +. I like this tall stacked layout with the finished art above, does that work well for everyone? Or do you have any suggestions? I plan to … Read More

Cat Head Pencil Shading

I’ve yet to meet a student that doesn’t like to draw a cat, so this shading exercise should work well for most classrooms.   1. Fold an 8.5″ x 11″ paper in half twice and sketch the outline of the cat as shown. 2. Medium gray tones are added, with a few spots left white to … Read More

Gelarti Painted Bottle

Gelarti Activity Kits let kids makes their own peel-off stickers, but I opted to put aside the stencils and just make my own colorful Kandinsky bottle instead. It was super easy as I just painted right on my bottle and let it dry. 1. Five tubes of paint come in a kit. They have little nozzles … Read More

Layered Pipes

I used to introduce 3rd and 4th graders to shading and tinting techniques with circles and spheres, but found this week that straight lines worked much better. The students can just concentrate on adding color to lines, instead of dealing with tricky curves. 1. Students were to first draw two parallel lines on their paper, either … Read More

Fireworks Drawing

This is an exercise in radial drawing, but it makes a nice fireworks image when you fill up the page. It would look great on black paper too. 1. You can use either a journal page or similar 6″ x 9″ drawing paper. Ask the students to place about 5 dots random dots on the page … Read More

Jasper Johns Grid

Jasper Johns, a master American artist, was the first to use everyday objects as his subject matter. One of his most famous paintings was just a grid with many numbers. Some math teachers find this art project helpful to have students practice lining up columns of numbers. 1. I printed up sheets of paper that were already divided into three … Read More

Abstract Flower Drawing

This is a little twist on the dissecting and coloring technique. If at the end you shade the corners of each shape you make, you get a softer and more sophisticated abstraction. 1. Students draw a vase that takes up most of the drawing paper. To help with making a symmetrical shape, they may fold scrap … Read More

Masking Tape Portrait

This is another way of getting lots of irregular torn edges, without the fuss of gluing them down. I used blue painter’s tape to make this portrait on a piece of colored paper. 1. Each student will need a 9″ x 12″ piece of colored paper, and a roll of blue painter’s tape (sharing would work … Read More

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

Hallway Pencil Poles

The hallway at my school just got a lot more fun, thanks to some amazing students and moms that finished our new “Hall of Pencils” today.  1. Some very civic-minded graduates decided they wanted to help make our school more colorful, so they began this pencil project that had been on the PTA’s “to do” list … 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

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

3D Paper Mache Letter

If you like those cool 3D paper mache letters seen at Pottery Barn, but not crazy about the price, make your own. With a little cardboard, cups and paper mache you can create your own and recycle some materials too. MATERIALS • Corrugated cardboard, about two 12″ squares for each letter • Styrofoam cups • White … 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

Masking Tape Letter

I tried this masking tape and marker project with kinders and they really enjoyed it. The students were given full permission to scribble, and actually had time to do both their initials in their hour of class time. PREP: I recommend testing your tape on your paper first to see if it comes off without tearing. … 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

Op Art Swirl

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

Op Art is a math-themed form of abstract art, which uses repetition of simple forms and colors to create optical effects. 1. The students make a dot somewhere near the middle of the paper. They draw four or five sets of wavy “triangle” shapes radiating outward. The shapes need to be done in pairs for the … Read More

Tissue Paper Collage

This is really good for young kids (age 5 and 6) who may not have used a paint brush before. The only catch is finding liquid starch, which seems to have been replaced by new products. 1. Students make a collage with just warm colors: red, yellow and orange. Give them a few dozen tissue paper … Read More

Kandinsky Circles in Felt

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

Spring is our biggest school fundraising season and our Silent Auction is our best event. I am always on the lookout for classroom projects that are colorful, quick and simple and Kandinsky circle projects always seem to do well. I’m working on this one with my 4th and 5th graders.  1. Students use a 6″ cardboard square to trace and cut their background felt. 2. Using … Read More

Tinted and Shaded Circles

Once students know how to mix basic colors, they can learn how to tint (add white), and shade (add black) to a color. 1. Each student gets a paper plate with white and black tempera, a brush, water, and the circled paper. I pre-printed circles on 9″ x 12″ paper. 2. Students chose just one other … 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

Another Chuck Close Portrait

This is another example of the Chuck Close Portrait Project that I posted earlier this year. It’s also a good example of what the more expensive colored pencils can do – not the cheap drug store variety. This student did a great job of making her portrait look both real and abstract at the same time. … 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

How to Draw a House

I had great success with this project for kinders recently. Several even came back later saying they went home to draw more houses. Love it when that happens. 1. I printed out 1/4″ graph paper on 17″ x 11″ paper to help the students draw straight lines. Using just plain white paper would probably be fine … Read More

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