Monster Drawing Game

Play a drawing game to create a crazy monster!

Second grade students played a drawing game by working together to each create part of a monster. 

Supplies:

  • 12″ x 18″ construction paper
  • Pencil
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils

Play a drawing game to create a crazy monster!

It is always fun to shake up an art project by doing it on large paper. I’ve done variations of the exquisite corpse game before. This time I used bigger sheets of paper and challenged my students to draw a monster.

Play a drawing game to create a crazy monster!

It helped to have a drawing prompt that encouraged weird, crazy images. Since students were switching their paper with classmates, it minimized any drawing insecurities that they might have.

Play a drawing game to create a crazy monster!

I started by demonstrating how to fold a paper into thirds. I emphasized that it was okay if the sections were not the same size – in fact, it would make the monster even more interesting if it had a really big head and tiny feet!

Play a drawing game to create a crazy monster!

Students drew a head on the paper that they wrote their name on. This was the monster that they would get back at the end of class to outline, color and take home. Before we played the game, we had a quick conversation about respecting each other’s art by not drawing or erasing in someone else’s section.

Play a drawing game to create a crazy monster!

They switched papers with someone at their table and drew the body and arms. Then, they traded with someone from a different table to draw the legs and feet. It was so much fun to see how creative they got with their monsters!

Play a drawing game to create a crazy monster!

At the end of class, they got back their original drawing and started tracing the pencil lines with fine tip markers. During our next class period, they finished outlining and colored in their artwork. I loved that this project encouraged my students to think creatively and also make artwork as a team!

Play a drawing game to create a crazy monster!

Surreal Self Portraits 

Create a Surreal self-portrait by drawing things that represent you as the parts of your face.Create a Surreal self-portrait by drawing things that represent you as the parts of your face.

Fourth grade students created a surreal self-portrait using symbols that represent them as the different parts of their body. They colored in their drawings with colored pencil.

PowerPoint: Surreal Self Portrait

Supplies:

  • 9″ x 12″ drawing paper
  • Colored pencils

Create a Surreal self-portrait by drawing things that represent you as the parts of your face.

Two class periods into the Surreal Landscape project, I realized my students were going to be finishing at very different paces. I needed a project that they could easily transition to after completing their watercolor pencil background.

Create a Surreal self-portrait by drawing things that represent you as the parts of your face.

I wanted to continue working with the concept of Surrealism; I could see that some students were still figuring out exactly what it meant. I decided to build on their last project by connecting the idea of Surrealism with self-portraits. By fourth grade, they have already learned about and created self-portraits, so it was a great way to deepen their understanding of both concepts.

Create a Surreal self-portrait by drawing things that represent you as the parts of your face.

As students started to finish painting their Surreal Landscapes, I paused class and gave a quick explanation of how to create a Surreal Self-Portrait. It was amazing to hear the conversations students had with each other as they tried to figure out how to build their face using things that represent them!

Create a Surreal self-portrait by drawing things that represent you as the parts of your face.

I was definitely concerned about having watercolor pencils and regular colored pencils out at the same time. Luckily, the timing worked out so that by the time kids were ready to start coloring their self-portraits, almost everyone in the class was finished using the watercolor pencils. I also reminded them every class period to check the side of their pencil – if it had a paintbrush on it, they knew it was a watercolor pencil.

Create a Surreal self-portrait by drawing things that represent you as the parts of your face.

I let them decide if they wanted to create and abstract or realistic background. That choice was a great review for them about the difference between abstract and realistic. This project was an excellent stepping stone from the Surreal Landscapes. I could see that the reason the kids enjoyed it so much was because they were able to express themselves creatively.

Create a Surreal self-portrait by drawing things that represent you as the parts of your face.

 

 

Not Your Average Coloring Center

Elementary art students can choose to go to a coloring page center where they re-invent artwork by an artist they just learned about.

PowerPoint: Table Artists 2015 & Table Artists 2016

Supply Box Labels: Table Name ImagesTable Names

Coloring Pages: Kusama ColoringLange Coloring

This is the second year I’ve named each of my tables after famous artists. I decided to add a new element to our discussions about these artists on Centers Day. I created a Coloring Page center, where students can re-create a painting by the artist we just talked about.

I will admit, I never thought I would incorporate photo-copied coloring pages into my art classroom. (I love having students create their own coloring pages!) I was looking for a way for kids to spend more time thinking about our table artists, and this turned out to be a great way to make that connection.

At the beginning of our Centers Day, I give the kids a little background information about one of the artists our tables are named after. Then I have them talk with each other about one or two pieces of their artwork. Focusing the mini art history lessons on our table artists has definitely increased their connection to the artwork. They get so excited to hear about the artist their table is named after!

This year I wanted them to have the opportunity to work on something they could take home with them. Only seeing them once a week makes it hard for them to retain the vocabulary words that we cover. Remembering an artist’s name is even trickier!

I was able to find a lot of pre-made coloring pages online. I created one for Dorothea Lange by putting her self-portrait in PowerPoint and changing the contrast. I also found a great website called Luna Pic that will take an image and turn it into a coloring page. The page I created using one of Yayoi Kusama’s paintings turned out great!

I have really enjoyed watching the way that they bring their own creativity to another artist’s work. I also love seeing coloring pages on display in other teachers’ classroom after a student gives it as a gift!

Draw a Verb

After reading Lines that Wiggle, second graders created a line drawing inspired by a verb.

After reading Lines that Wiggle, elementary art students drew lines inspired by a verb and colored their artwork using markers and colored pencils.

Art Lesson Videos: Draw a Verb, Part 1 & Draw a Verb, Part 2

PowerPoint: Draw a Verb

Supplies:

  • Lines that Wiggle by Candace Whitman
  • 9″ x 12″ drawing paper
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils

After reading Lines that Wiggle, second graders created a line drawing inspired by a verb.
I love connecting our projects to a book that we read as a class, especially with second graders. They are so enthusiastic and engaged when we sit together on the floor to read a story. Lines that Wiggle inspired me to create a drawing project that connected different kinds of lines to verbs.

After reading Lines that Wiggle, second graders created a line drawing inspired by a verb.

After reading the book, we talked about what a verb is and gave examples of different types of verbs. We drew lines in the air that could represent those action words. Then, I asked them to go to their table and write down a verb that they wanted to use for their drawing.

After reading Lines that Wiggle, second graders created a line drawing inspired by a verb.

Next they wrote their verb onto their drawing and created lines that showed the action. It was incredible to see how creative they were with the lines they chose to represent their verb. Most students were able to begin tracing their lines during the first class period.

After reading Lines that Wiggle, second graders created a line drawing inspired by a verb.

When I was making the video demonstration, I felt a little ridiculous breaking down how to use colored pencils to the very basics. After seeing the results, I’m glad I did! It’s easy to forget that second graders don’t have a lot of experience experimenting with colored pencils. Even knowing how to use a sharpener can be a challenge!

After reading Lines that Wiggle, second graders created a line drawing inspired by a verb.

For this project, I was a stickler about asking the kids to fill the whole page. In the video, I showed them a way to color in big spaces quickly. So when I had a quick finisher, I reminded them of how easy it was to color in the big background spaces.

After reading Lines that Wiggle, second graders created a line drawing inspired by a verb.

At the beginning, I was curious to see how the students would respond to this project. I was a little worried that second grade was too early to make the jump of connecting abstract lines to the concept of a verb. It was exciting to see the wide variety of responses they came up with.

After reading Lines that Wiggle, second graders created a line drawing inspired by a verb.

 

 

Frank Stella Inspired Drawings

Student use positive and negative space to create art inspired by Frank Stella.

Fourth grade students created drawings using geometric or organic shapes after viewing artwork by Frank Stella.

Art Lesson Videos: Frank Stella Drawings, Part 1 & Frank Stella Drawings, Part 2

Supplies:

  • 9″ x 12″ white drawing paper
  • Pencils, erasers
  • Drawing tools (rulers, protractors, compasses, etc.)
  • Colored pencils
  • Markers

PowerPoint: Stella Drawings

I was inspired by a post I read on Art is Basic to create a Frank Stella drawing project to start the year with my fourth graders. I loved that it introduced them to new drawing tools and gave them freedom to make artistic choices.

Student use positive and negative space to create art inspired by Frank Stella.

I created video demonstrations to use at the beginning of class for this project. On the first day, my students saw examples of Frank Stella’s artwork – one piece that used geometric shapes and one that used organic shapes. I paused the video and asked the kids, if they were leaning towards using geometric or organic shapes for their artwork. In most classes, overwhelmingly they were planning to use organic shapes.

Student use positive and negative space to create art inspired by Frank Stella.

I played the second part of the video, which was a demonstration of how to use the drawing tools or your imagination to draw shapes. It was interesting that after watching the video, the majority of the class switched ideas and gravitated towards using the tools to create geometric shapes.

Student use positive and negative space to create art inspired by Frank Stella.

Their goal for that first class was to draw their shapes, outline them with marker or colored pencil and cut their paper to a custom shape if they wanted to. We talked about how Frank Stella would create custom canvases that were the same shape as his artwork. I didn’t require that they cut their artwork – they could also choose to leave it as the rectangular paper.

Student use positive and negative space to create art inspired by Frank Stella.

During the second day of class, we started off with another video demo – this time I told them to be listening for the definition of positive and negative space. After they watched, we talked about balancing the positive and negative space by coloring shapes all over the paper.

Student use positive and negative space to create art inspired by Frank Stella.

Giving students the freedom to leave some of their artwork blank was a new approach for me. My mantra has always been “Finish your artwork, finish the background.” For a lot of projects it is important that students think of their background as a part of their work that needs attention. But for this project, leaving negative space felt like a natural fit.

Student use positive and negative space to create art inspired by Frank Stella.

Their goal for the second day was to finish their artwork by coloring the shapes that they wanted to be positive space. It was tricky for me to balance my expectation that they not just color a couple shapes with my desire to give them creative control over their artwork.

Student use positive and negative space to create art inspired by Frank Stella.

There were times that I might have colored a few more shapes, but I could tell that the student had worked hard – so I let them decide when their artwork was finished. There were also times when I knew that a student had only been working for 15 minutes and was in a rush to be finished. It was easy to say, “I think you need some more positive space” in order to encourage them to do a little more.

Student use positive and negative space to create art inspired by Frank Stella.

It’s tempting to just jump right into the coloring part of a project, but I was so grateful that I had taken a couple minutes to demonstrate some coloring techniques. Overall, I could see a huge difference in my students taking their time and putting a lot of craftsmanship into their work.

Student use positive and negative space to create art inspired by Frank Stella.

It was very cool to see the wide range of ideas that my students had for this project! I liked that the assignment was concrete, but also open-ended enough that students could take it in their own direction.

Create a Coloring Page

Students draw a coloring page, then color a photocopy of a classmate's drawing.

Third and fourth grade art students drew their own coloring book pages, then colored a photo copy of a classmate’s artwork.

Supplies:

  • Copy paper
  • Pencils
  • Sharpies
  • Crayons
  • Copier (Make one copy of each drawing)

Downloadable PowerPoint: Create a Coloring Page

 

This project is a winner for artists of all ages – I have done it with high school seniors and they loved it! Last year it became my classic end-of-the-quarter project. After the Showcase was over, this was a fun project that allowed students to think creatively and work together.

On the first day, we observed an abstract and realistic example of a coloring page. We talked about how the artwork only had the outlines. They got to choose what the subject of their artwork would be. This is the most fun part for me! I love seeing the wide range of topics that they come up with. It is also a great opportunity for kids who want to get better at drawing realistically to practice drawing from observation. If kids need to see an image in order to draw something, I paste it onto a blank PowerPoint slide.

They draw using pencil first and then trace over it with Sharpie. We take two days for this step. As they finish a page, they turn it in to me so that I can put it in the “Copy” folder. If they finish a page early, they can draw another page to have copied.

The next step was a little confusing for some of the kids, so I tried to explain it a different way each day we were working on the project. After the second day, I photo-copied all of the coloring pages that were finished. On the third day, they got to pick someone else’s page and color it in using crayons, markers or colored pencils. (I reassured them that they would get back their own original drawings.) Because they wrote their names on the back with pencil, it was easy for me to see which were originals and which were copies.

On the third day, they got to choose someone else’s drawing to color in. Each table got more pages to choose from than people who sat at the table. That way the last person to choose still had three options to pick from. I mixed together all of the drawings from the entire grade level. Before I passed out the photo-copied drawings, I gave a pep talk on speaking respectfully about each other’s artwork.

Before I passed out the photo-copied drawings, I gave a pep talk on speaking respectfully about each other’s artwork.

I modeled polite ways of talking about which artwork you were going to choose (“I don’t care for snakes, so I think I’ll color the drawing of the flower…”) and I gave examples of inappropriate ways of talking about the art (“Eew! I hate snakes! I don’t want that one!”) I was so proud of my students! After doing this project with 28 classes, I only had to talk with one or two kids about speaking respectfully.

The coloring portion of this project is so relaxing! I put on mellow music, and the kids get really into coloring their classmate’s artwork. They also love the idea that someone else is coloring their drawing. If they finish the first page early, I give them back their original artwork and they can start coloring it in as well. At the end of the class period, everyone leaves with at least two pieces of artwork – their original drawing and the photo-copied drawing that they colored.

 

 

 

 

Combat Boredom with Sketchbook Projects

Students' sketchbooks are an amazing way to keep kids engaged when they finish a project!

Use sketchbooks as a way to extend students’ learning after they finish working on their art project for the day.

Supplies (for each book):

  • 12″ x 18″ construction paper
  • 4 sheets 12″ x 18″ drawing paper
  • Staples!

The best change I made to my classroom last year was introducing sketchbooks! The first quarter I used the old “you can free draw on computer paper when you’re done” strategy. Which, let’s be honest, is not a strategy that works very well! Giving students their own sketchbook added so much meaning to the shorter projects I gave them to do after they finished an assignment. Because they were invested in what they were creating, I saw a dramatic shift in how focused my students on their drawings.

At the beginning of the second quarter, I decided to make sketchbooks for my 3rd and 4th grade classes. I color coordinated my room by making each class a different color of the rainbow. On the first day of Art, I taught them how to draw block and bubble letters. They drew their names and filled them in with patterns using Sharpie.

On each of my PowerPoints, I added a slide at the end for the Sketchbook Project that kids would work on when they finished their artwork. They could always choose to go back and finish an old sketchbook drawing before they started the new one. For the Monster Sculpture project, the prompt was “Draw your monster’s family.” Some students decided to draw a group of monsters who looked similar and other monster families were very different.

The first sketchbook project my third graders did was after they completed their Shape Robots. After we talked about what a verb is, we brainstormed ideas of things they could draw their robots doing. It was incredible to see the wide range of ideas they came up with!

After the fourth graders finished their Notan Project, I showed them how to create radial symmetry by repeating shapes on a piece of circle graph paper. Creating mandalas was the perfect sketchbook project because it built on our discussions of symmetry for creating notans. The process of drawing mandalas is so calming; it was a nice break for the students who had gotten a bit stressed from the brain work that goes in to creating a notan.

One of my favorite sketchbook projects was the Roll a Miro game I found online. After my third graders finished their Miro Creatures using lines and shapes from Miro paintings, I taught them how to play the game. They rolled a dice to choose the eyes, body, arms and color scheme of their creature. Some students just played it once and spent a lot of time on their creature. Other students, who finished a day early, were able to create several creatures. This was a sketchbook project that the kids asked for me to bring out again after our next assignment, especially if they didn’t get a chance to do it the first time.

At the end of the Hybrid Animal project, my fourth graders drew their animal throughout it’s life cycle. I liked that this sketchbook project connected the artwork they created with scientific concepts. It was interesting to see how creative they got with imagining how their animal would look at different stages.

After they finished using pastels for their Castle Creativity project, I asked my students to draw an inside room of their castle. This was a great extension because they were able to tie in the theme and mood of their castle. A student whose castle was made of ice cream could create an interior drawing that showed the ice cream machines in the kitchen.

The comic book project was a huge hit! After my third graders finished their Pop Art Words, I invited them to create a comic strip in their sketchbooks. I had whole tables of kids working together and laughing about the stories they created! This was definitely a project that my students continued working on after the painting assignment was over.

One of the most rewarding parts of introducing sketchbooks into my class was seeing how proud my students were of their sketchbooks at the Showcase. I put the sketchbooks out on long tables in the hallway next to the mounted artwork displays. It warmed my heart to see kids looking through other students’ sketchbooks and asking their parents to take their photo with their own sketchbook.

It does take some extra time to put the books together before a new quarter starts. I have learned to offer art tickets for doing the job of “sketchbook-making.” Both my third and fourth graders can get quite an assembly line going as we all fold and staple the books together. Usually, I can get them all done in about a week with my students’ help.

 

Independent Projects

4th grade students choose their subject and medium to create Independent Projects.

At the end of the quarter, fourth grade art students created Independent Projects by choosing their subject and medium.

Supplies:

  • Markers
  • Colored Pencils
  • Crayons
  • Watercolors
  • Construction paper and glue
  • Printmaking supplies
  • Yarn
  • Poster board
  • Drawing paper

PowerPoint: Independent Project

4th grade students choose their subject and medium to create Independent Projects.

For whatever weird scheduling reason, the third quarter is a little longer than the others. I decided to use that time to encourage my fourth graders to express themselves creatively through Independent Projects. I’ve done this kind of assignment with high school students, so I was interested to see if my fourth graders would embrace it or feel overwhelmed.

4th grade students choose their subject and medium to create Independent Projects.

They blew me away with how much ownership they took of their projects! I started the assignment by reviewing subject and medium. I reminded them of the difference between abstract and realistic. Then I put up a list of all the materials we had used throughout the quarter. They were able to pick just one or several materials for their project. The first step was sketching, which they did directly onto their final paper.

4th grade students choose their subject and medium to create Independent Projects.

I was so excited by the way their ideas bubbled out of them. You could feel the creative energy in the room! The wide range of ideas was incredible and seeing the students work together to problem solve and brainstorm warmed my heart.

4th grade students choose their subject and medium to create Independent Projects.

I had the art supply options set up at the front of the room, so the most intense part was getting each student the appropriate kind of paper. I had stacks of poster board, drawing paper, and printmaking paper ready to go. After they had written down their subject and medium, I would check in with them and give them the paper they needed.

4th grade students choose their subject and medium to create Independent Projects.

Several students in each class decided to do mixed media. They had to plan what order they should use the art supplies. If they needed to wait for one step to dry, I had them work in their sketchbook for the rest of class.

4th grade students choose their subject and medium to create Independent Projects.

If a student had a hard time getting started, asking them if they’d rather do an abstract or realistic piece of art was usually enough to jump start their thought process. It was also fun to watch them be inspired by each other’s artwork. There were definitely some trends that ran through each class period.

4th grade students choose their subject and medium to create Independent Projects.

The timing was a little tricky; there were about 3-5 kids in each class that finished much earlier than everyone else. Luckily, the assignment lends itself to further exploration. If there was enough time left in the week, I let the student go ahead and start another Independent Project. They could decide if they wanted to stick with the same medium and subject or if they wanted to change it up.

 

 

Hybrid Animals

4th grade students practice observational drawing by creating hybrid creatures.

Using photo references, fourth graders practiced observational drawing by combining characteristics of two different animals to create a hybrid.

Supplies:

  • Pencils, erasers
  • Photo references of animals
  • Sets of 24 colored pencils
  • 9″ x 12″ drawing paper

Downloadable PowerPoint: Hybrid Animals

4th grade students practice observational drawing by creating hybrid creatures.

I wrote my hybrid animal lesson plan the first year I was teaching. I had middle school students, and it was the perfect mixture of silly and structured for them. This year, I decided to try out a variation of the lesson with my 4th graders. They really enjoyed it!

4th grade students practice observational drawing by creating hybrid creatures.

I start off the project by showing them examples of Photoshopped animal hybrids, which always grabs their attention! Then I give them a pep talk about drawing realistically. The main point is that drawing is all about teaching your eyes how to see because your hand already knows how to draw the simple straight, curved and angled lines that everything is made up of. I let them choose two photos to use as reference for their animal. I inherited a whole notebook full of animal facts that have great photos, but I also take requests and put photos of specific animals up on the board.

4th grade students practice observational drawing by creating hybrid creatures.

The first day is spent sketching their animal. We talk about the different ways that the artists of the Photoshopped examples combined their animals. I spend this class period running around and helping students to “see” the lines and shapes so that they can draw their animal how they envision it. It helps that the final outcome is supposed to look kind of weird and crazy; it takes the pressure off for the drawing to be perfect.

4th grade students practice observational drawing by creating hybrid creatures.

If they have time on the first day, they can start drawing their background. I talk with them about habitats and ask them to imagine what kind of habitat their animal might live in. I start off the second class period with a brainstorm about ways that you can color neatly. The kids write their ideas on scraps of paper and I randomly draw several to add to our poster. I have found that this step makes a huge difference in encouraging them to take their time when they start using the colored pencils.

4th grade students practice observational drawing by creating hybrid creatures.

Once the first student is ready to start coloring, I have the class circle up to watch a demonstration. I show them several ways to add texture to their artwork using the colored pencils. I usually demonstrate leaves, bark, rocks, fur, feathers, and scales. Then, I’ll ask if anyone has any other textures they’d like to get ideas for. I also show them how they can blend colors by overlapping them.

4th grade students practice observational drawing by creating hybrid creatures.

The coloring part of the project goes at wildly different paces for different students. Some students finish in just one day and others need extra time during centers after the assignment is over. When they finish early, their sketchbook project is to draw their animal at different stages during its life cycle. If a student finishes that project early also, they can draw anything they choose in their sketchbook and color it with colored pencils.

 

 

Abstract or Realistic?

Abstract or Realistic? A student-led approach to teaching the element of Space. Students chose between creating a drawing using perspective or a notan using positive and negative space.

For the first semester this year, I took a new approach to teaching the Elements of Art. Instead of just having a project that used the element we were focusing on, I explained the concept and then gave my students a choice of two projects – one that was realistic and one that was abstract.

Abstract or Realistic? A student-led approach to teaching the element of Space. Students chose between creating a drawing using perspective or a notan using positive and negative space.

On the first day of class, I showed my students examples of realistic and abstract artwork. I also demonstrated how artwork is not either/or when it comes to abstract and realistic. We talked about how any piece could fit anywhere on a “timeline” of representational to non-representational artwork.

abstract vs real 2

In the middle of the year, I had them work in groups to practice thinking about where a piece of artwork would fit on the “abstract to realistic” continuum. I printed out five pieces of artwork for each group and had them discuss and sort where they would place each one.

abstract vs real

Doing all of this work with abstract vs. realistic up front made it easier when we got into more complicated concepts like Space. Since they already understood that they could make artwork anywhere along that continuum, they could focus their energy on understanding the element of Space.

Abstract or Realistic? A student-led approach to teaching the element of Space. Students chose between creating a drawing using perspective or a notan using positive and negative space.

After discussing the element of Space, I gave students the option of creating a more abstract notan or a more realistic drawing of a room. The notan used the concept of positive and negative space, while the room focused on drawing in two-point perspective. (For the room drawing I used the same lesson from last year about Surreal Spaces, but I only briefly touched on incorporating surrealism.)

Abstract or Realistic? A student-led approach to teaching the element of Space. Students chose between creating a drawing using perspective or a notan using positive and negative space.

Some students drew incredibly realistic rooms, while others created more surreal atmospheres. The notans were equally diverse. It was exciting to see my students exploring the full spectrum of abstract to realistic artwork.

Abstract or Realistic? A student-led approach to teaching the element of Space. Students chose between creating a drawing using perspective or a notan using positive and negative space.

I could see that opening up the assignment helped students to feel more comfortable being adventurous with their project. Instead of ending up with a set of cookie cutter pieces of artwork, each student’s art was truly unique. Another benefit was that even though my students each picked one project, they got to learn about and see the process of doing the other assignment while they watched their classmates.

Abstract or Realistic? A student-led approach to teaching the element of Space. Students chose between creating a drawing using perspective or a notan using positive and negative space.

Abstract (Notans): Black construction paper, White construction paper, scissors, X-acto knives, glue

Realistic (Perspective drawings): Drawing paper, colored pencils, markers

Downloadable PowerPoint: Abstract vs. Realistic