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″ … 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 … 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, … 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, … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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. … Read More

Birch Trees

Variations of this project are often posted on, 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 … 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 … 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″ … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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″. … 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 and search for animal face photos. Or if … 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 … Read More

Torn Paper Kandinsky

Abstract art projects are great for those who feel that art is always about drawing, and may not always be so keen on their skills. Sometimes just making irregular shapes with color can produce beautiful results. These circles are created in the style of Kandinsky’s “Farstudie Quadrate”. 1. Give the students a … Read More

Tissue Paper Flag Mural

Can you believe this mural is made out of craft tissue paper? Thanks so much to Krista Dillon and her students who experimented with my Canadian Flag Mural and came up with this beautiful piece!  The technique is one that I haven’t used since elementary school. It’s made up of lots of craft tissue paper … Read More

Draw A Textured House

I did this house drawing last year with kinders, and remembered having a lot of success with it. This year I just added a texture element, which came from slipping a small piece of window screen underneath while coloring. 1. I started with tabloid card stock paper from Staples (11″ x 17″) … Read More

How to Make a Mola

Molas are handmade textiles from Panama which use a reverse appliqué technique. Several layers of different-colored cloth are sewn together and the design is then formed by cutting parts of each layer away. While that technique is pretty intricate, the look can be imitated by layering construction paper. 1. The process starts … Read More

Alien Names

I thought I would get a so-so response to this lesson, but found that the students were delighted to see how ‘alien-like’ their names could be, and amazed at how different all their artwork was. 1. Give the students an 11″ x 17″ paper and ask them to fold it in half … Read More

Gustav Klimt Drawing

An Austrian painter, Gustav Klimt lived in the early 1900’s and started his career as a decorator. He is probably most famous for his painting named “The Kiss”. 1. The first step is to give the students black construction paper, magazines with lots of people in them, scissors and a glue stick. … Read More

Cool and Warm Color Collage

The very first color theory lesson that students as young as 1st grade can learn is which colors are considered ‘warm’ and which are ‘cool’. Seeking out examples of the colors in magazines and using repetition helps store these two categories to memory. 1. I used my computer and printer to make … Read More

How to Draw a Dragon

posted in: 4th Grade, 5th Grade | 2

I’ve had many students ask me over the years how to draw a dragon, and I must admit they are not the easiest things to draw. But with the Chinese New Year approaching on January 31st, I thought I’d break down the steps in just drawing a head. Making a grid with … Read More

Overlapping Rings

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 … Read More

Andy Warhol Portraits

Andy Warhol’s repetitive style is fun to duplicate and the perfect example for students to create their own repetitive drawings using Sharpies on acetate. 1. Review some of Andy Warhol’s portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, etc. Collect several photos of celebrities or of the students themselves and copy in black and … Read More

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