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

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

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

3D Paper Mache Letter

If you like those cool Pottery Barn letters but not the price, make your own. 1. My son’s letter is about 9″ tall. Start by drawing a big block letter on corrugated cardboard and cut out. Trace a second letter and cut it out also. 2. Get some styrofoam or similar cups and cut at least … 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Homemade St. Patrick’s Day Card

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In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve made a tutorial of my Shamrock project. If you can draw lines and hearts, then you can make this beautiful painting in honor of the holiday. Just save a few dollars for a gold paint marker because they really add a special touch.  

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

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. Suess Signs

Our school has a Dr. Suess 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

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

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

Watercolor Gingerbread Cookie

My new watercolor project, Gingerbread Cookie Boy (or Girl, of course).  Kinders can concentrate on just drawing a large, symmetrical shape while 1st and 2nd graders can try adding a shadow to give their cookie more dimension. 1. I drew a large, symmetrical cookie shape on a letter size piece of watercolor paper. The outline was … Read More

Happy Thanksgiving!

These lovely turkeys were shared with me awhile back, but they are still some of my favorite. Volunteer art docent Tricia from Brentwood, CA had her 4th grade students first draw them on 12×18 white paper with Sharpies. They added oil pastel accents and finished with water color from edge to edge. Love the color!

Kandinsky Watercolor Painting

This project worked really well with my last afterschool watercolor class. And that was with over 40 kids (kinder through 5th) in one not-so-large art room! I’ll add my tips on how to paint with these conditions below. PREP: I pre-printed the grid lines on letter-size watercolor paper using my file posted HERE. About 80 spillproof … Read More

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