Cutout Christmas Card

There’s nothing like a homemade holiday card. I tried this method to make a quick “quilted” card that didn’t actually call for any sewing. 1. Start with giving each student 3 colored cards that measure 4.5″ x 6.5″. Next, they each need 3 sheets of contrasting card stock that measure 4″ x 6″ (I used a … Read More

Halloween Monster Gloves

OK, so maybe this is more craft than art, but Halloween can be a great time to challenge your creative muscles. And if I could inspire even just one person to make something instead of buying that awful ready-made stuff in stores, I will be a happy camper. 1. The key is finding fake fur from … Read More

Bone Letters

You could make this a lesson about anatomy and what the different kinds of bones in your body look like – or you could just make some creepy looking name signs for Halloween! 1. I drew examples of some typical bones on the board. They generally look like sticks, but have large bumps on the end. … Read More

Pasta Skeleton

A fun way to mix basic anatomy with art is by creating skeletons from pasta. 1. To make a sturdy pallet, the students arranged 20 popsicle sticks horizontally and secured them with 4 sticks glued vertically to the back. 2. A variety of pasta shapes were needed. I started by briefing the students with a simple … Read More

Kinder Portfolio Project

posted in: Kindergarten, Painting | 5

I found this art and book combination over at Teach Kids Art. “The Dot” book is short and sweet and has a wonderful art message. The simple lesson of just painting lots of dots on a posterboard was good for kinders just learning how to follow directions. 1. I prefolded 28″ x 22″ posterboard almost in half, … Read More

Kinder Line Art Project

Starting a kinder art class with a book is very helpful in establishing focus but can also be an opportunity to merge the art lesson with their other studies. Kinders in CA start off the year learning about horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines. Finding just the right book can often be a test but, I think … Read More

Watercolor and Crayon Name

You can give your painting skills a practice while you make a pretty sign for your home or classroom. 1. I recommend starting with some kind of watercolor paper as it will make a big difference in the brightness of the paint color. Working with a wide format paper, have the students draw five equal horizontal … Read More

Glitter Leaf Journal Page

I like to try new products on the market, and had fun today with Crayola’s new “Mixing Mediums”. They’ve made “Texture It”, “Pearl It” and “Glitter It” paint which are designed to add some special effects to your artwork. Adding the glitter paint to my journal leaf page added a nice little sparkle, and inspired my … Read More

Contour Tree Drawing

I’m stilling enjoying the artwork of Friedensrich Hundertwasser, who inspired this contour drawing of a tree trunk. 1. I used a square paper and drew the outline of a tree trunk with a few finger-looking shapes pointing down. After adding a few vertical lines for definition, I made a series of curved, or “jumping” lines going … Read More

Hundertwasser Portraits

I’d been looking for a different approach to self-portraits for a back-to-school project. I wanted something that would ask the students to see themselves in a new way, and create a colorful display that I knew the teachers would appreciate for their classrooms. Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser has an amazing life story, along with a very … Read More

Over and Under Snake

Learning to draw overlapping shapes is the first step to working with depth. I found this project to be a fun way for students to think about what is in ‘front’ and what is in ‘back’. 1. Starting with a sheet of white drawing paper, the students are to draw one long continuous curved line that … 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

A Kinder Portrait

Sometimes when a student gets to use a new media for the first time, like oil pastels, a visible excitement can be seen the results. These kinders traced a head and shoulder template and then drew a line down the middle. They were supposed to draw and color a “calm” and a “wild” side. But this … Read More

“Things That Are Most” Project

posted in: 4th Grade, 5th Grade | 3

I decided to reapproach this creative writing/drawing project from a book titled “Things that are Most in the World” by Judi Barrett. I tried it’s enclosed follow up a few years ago, but have now created a more specific formula to follow. Each page in this book is based on a different adjective, such as “The teensie-weensiest thing … Read More

Andy Warhol Soup Cans

posted in: 4th Grade, 5th Grade | 6

Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can painting has come to symbolize the pop art movement. WEEK 1: Students trace a with a 5″ wide oval template (the shape of the top of a can in perspective) on a 9″ x 12″ sheet of paper, along. They trace one oval at near the top of the paper, slide the … Read More

Dubuffet Self Portrait

Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) was a French painter and sculptor who preferred what he called “raw art”. This came from non-professionals who worked in very primitive ways. He routinely added sand, tar and straw to his paintings to give them an unusual texture. His playful style is fun to imitate and can encourage some very creative portraiture. … Read More

Bandage Halloween Head

Halloween can offer lots of creative drawing opportunities, some even with valuable art principals. I got this drawing idea from a piece of clip art, and found that it helped to teach students how to make a round head look more dimensional, simply by adding curves instead of flat straight lines. 1. I made cardboard head … Read More

Birch Trees

Variations of this project are often posted on Artsonia.com, but I like the subtle colors that come out in this version by painting with a toothbrush. 1. Each student starts with a 9″ x 12″ sheet of watercolor or heavy paper. They are to tear off six strips of 1 1/2″ wide painter’s masking tape at … Read More

Watercolor Caterpillar

A good lesson for kindergarteners on up. Reading “A Very Hungry Caterpillar” before drawing is recommended. 1. Students draw about 7 vertical lines in the middle of a sheet of watercolor paper. 2. Starting on the top left, show them how to “jump” from top to top to connect the lines with curves. 3. Repeat the … Read More

Collage Figure Study

This project makes learning figure proportions fun, while still allowing room for creativity. Many poses are possible when your figure can bend in so many ways. 1. Background collage: Each student needs a background piece of 9″ x 12″ construction paper, and then 2 other panels that were roughly 5″ x 12″ (I used green and … Read More

Fauve Portraits

The primary mission of Fauve artists in the late 1800’s was to work with vibrant and unnatural color. Van Gogh, Gauguin and other artists wanted their art to be new and modern, much like the technology that was developing around them. 1. If your budget permits, give each student a canvas panel to work with – they really … Read More

Giant Paper Mache Numbers – Painted

Here’s the follow up to my “Giant Paper Mache Numbers” project, all painted and ready for a culmination ceremony tomorrow. I finished putting one layer of mache on all the numbers, painted them with a flat black interior paint, and then let the students take turns dripping on my leftover acrylic paint. I couldn’t be happier … Read More

Patterned Hands

posted in: 4th Grade, 5th Grade | 3

My experience in graphic arts enables me make up my own templates for new art projects. In this case I added a diagonal line to my graph, but alternating squares will work fine too. 1. Give each student a square paper that has the (lightly) printed 5/8″ grid, with a diagonal line slicing through each box. … Read More

Self-Portrait Painting in Acrylic

Years ago I taught my first self-portrait project in my son’s 2nd grade classroom. They’ve since become a favorite of students and their parents and have served as great fundraising tools. 1. I started with 5″ x 7″ canvas panels and an assortment of acrylic paint. It helps if you include lots of skin tones, as … Read More

Laurel Burch 3D Cat

You can use this idea to turn any silhouette into a 3-dimensional shape. Just make sure you use a thick paper so your design will stand up nice and straight. 1. I made a two cardboard templates of a silhouette (see picture) and had the students trace each onto the heaviest watercolor paper I could find. … Read More

Monet Water Lilies

Claude Monet (1840-1926) painted directly from nature and revealed that even on the gloomiest of days, an infinite number of colors can and do exist. To capture these fleeting hues, Monet created a new painting technique using short brushstrokes filled with individual color. The result was a canvas alive with painterly activity, the opposite of the … Read More

Plants in a Jar

I’m always looking for new ways of using white crayons that “magically” appear when painted. This can be integrated with a science lesson on plants and root systems. 1. I cut jar templates from letter-size chip board and gave one to each student. Have them trace the jar in pencil on a 9″ x 12″ paper. … Read More

How to Draw King Tut

Gold tempera paint makes King Tut look extra special. 1. Students fold the paper in half vertically so that the face may be centered.They  draw a large “U” in the middle that is centered on the fold. A line closes the top, and another parallel line is added below. 2. Facial features are added as shown. … Read More

Ceramic Planter Face

Making this ceramic planter and then planting seeds for hair makes the growth process a lot more fun. 1.  Use a wire cutter to make about 3/4″ thick slabs cut from a block of clay. Each student uses a plastic drinking glass (about 3.5″ diameter) to cut a circle from one corner of the slab for … Read More

Scratch Art Landscape

You don’t have to buy expensive scratch art paper, if you have some good oil pastels, you can make your own. 1. Give the students a heavy card stock sheet of paper, 8.5″ x 11″ is good. With a pencil, ask them to draw at least 3 simple upside-down curves to represent hills. Next they are … Read More

Delaunay Marker Drawing

Sonia Delaunay was a ground-breaking female artist who made some wonderful abstract paintings known for their rhythm and color. My goal was to have the students learn that if they used repeating shapes and colors in their art, they could create a very rhythmic picture too. 1. I found a vital piece of equipment at Michael’s, a … Read More

Folk Art Bird

One of the main features of Folk Art is that it is made by untrained artists. In this lesson I encouraged students to paint and draw with a very rough and sketchy style. This time, neatness doesn’t count! Week 1: Give the students large pieces of butcher paper, about 12″ x 18″. They are to paint … Read More

Animals Eyes

posted in: 4th Grade, 5th Grade | 7

Learning how to draw well involves paying attention to detail, which is what this project focuses on. 1. Color copies of enlarged animal eye photos are needed for each student. If you have a color printer and access to the internet, go to www.gettyone.com and search for animal face photos. Or if you have magazines and … Read More

Paint and Trace Watercolor Flowers

This project worked well for kinders through 5th grade last week. I basically had students draw or “fill in” the flowers first with their paint brushes, and then trace the edges afterward. My other projects almost always begin with traced drawings so this backwards approach gave the students a different perspective and different results. 1. With … Read More

House Collage

This is a fill-in-the-blanks kind of challenge for students, which can be easier than starting a drawing from scratch. I looked online for architecture photos, and printed them out in black and white. You could also just xerox magazine photos. Look for a variety of images, making sure to have a selection of house parts including … Read More

How to Draw a Cat

I’ve never had a student say that they didn’t want to draw a cat. They make a great subject matter for boys and girls of all ages. 1. I first made 3.5″ cardboard circle templates. Each student was instructed to place their circle near the top left of an 8.5″ x 11″ paper. The circle is … Read More

Popsicle Portraits

This was a very successful Mother’s Day project last year. Magnets could be added so the art could go right on the fridge. 1. Students glue their own jumbo popsicle stick boards together with craft glue. 2. They draw their portrait in a 4″ square on white drawing paper. 3. When the pencil drawing is done, … Read More

Polymer Clay Monster Face

Polymer clay is pretty cool stuff to work with. It has this great ability to stick to itself and not fall apart. I’ve used it with smaller size classes with some great results. 1. Each student should get from 6-8 different squares of polymer clay. Start by rolling a large 2″ ball, and press it flat … Read More

Paper Mache Bowl, Part 1

My current afterschool paper mache project is turning out to be one of my most reliable, ye olde balloon and mache combination. I posted this project a while back, but without illustrations. Tomorrow is paint day so I’ll be showing off the results. SESSION ONE: I started each student off with a 12″ balloon and a cut-off grocery box … Read More

Chameleon Watercolor Painting

You can start your lesson by reading Eric Carle’s “Mixed-Up Chameleon”, which gives the students freedom to decorate their reptile however they want. 1. Students draw the body in pencil, then add four legs underneath, and add an eye and tongue. 2. When the body was done, hand out either crayons or oil pastels. The pastels … Read More

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