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

How to Draw a Cow

Here is a pretty simple way to draw a cow, starting with just some very familiar shapes. This one was done with crayon and watercolor, but white tempera paint on blue paper would look great too. •View and download How to Draw a Cow

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

Bird Tessellation

A tessellation is created when a shape is repeated over and over again covering a plane without any gaps or overlaps. I learned the hard way how easily triangles can get flopped and rotated, so I came up with a numbering process that eliminates the problem. 1. Give each student a 3″ (or larger) square of … Read More

Ceramic Fish

This fish could be made with many different types of clay. I am partial to ceramics and the layering of color, for obvious reasons, I think. 1. The students will need a stylus or wooden tool, a cup of water, and a lump of clay about the size of their fist. To begin, they should just … 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

Romare Bearden-Style Collage

Many art historians consider Romare Bearden to be one of America’s most important and inventive artists. Bearden loved collage, combining painting, magazine clippings, old paper and fabric together like a jigsaw puzzle. This project gives a nod to Bearden’s love of photos and texture, but also offers a kinder / 1st grade version of my “Collage … 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

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

Faith Ringgold Flag Quilt

Faith Ringgold, an African-American artist, is best known for her large story quilts. In 1985 she made a piece titled “Flag Story Quilt” which inspired this collage. 1. To help cut swatches, I gave the students a template to follow, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ cardstock. I passed out several old magazines to have them cut out swatches of red, and … 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.

An Eye for Magritte

René Magritte was a Belgian surrealist artist who became well known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images. He wanted to challenge viewers to think about what they were looking at and to ask themselves “What does this painting mean?” 1. Take an old CD and trace it in the center of an 8.5″ x … Read More

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

Nutcracker: Oil Pastel on Black Paper

This is a breakdown of my Nutcracker drawing project, this time using oil pastels on black construction paper. My large construction paper comes in 18″ x 24″ size, so I cut long narrow panels of 8″ x 24″ for each student. Each also got a cardboard template measuring 7″ x 4″. 1. Following the steps shown … Read More

Hand Colored Christmas Card

You can find some beautiful illuminated letters at clipartETC.com. I’ve used them to create this template for a hand colored Christmas card. 1. Print on 8.5×11 card or cover stock in the landscape orientation. 2. Use fine point markers or colored pencils to color in the letters.  

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