Teaching art to first-grade students isn’t only about making a fun lesson they’ll enjoy. In art, they learn about color recognition and spatial awareness.
They can recognize patterns and overall improve their fine motor skills. Your students should be using these abilities to enhance their art, and there’s no doubt that it’s an exciting time for them.
Students in first grade are at an age where they take pride in their art, and you must encourage their creativity.
That’s why we’ve compiled a selection of 35 of our favorite art projects, especially curated for your students to enjoy.
Whether you’re looking for paintings or collages or you want to make your own figures, we have something here for everyone.
1. Patterned Letters
Give each student a letter and encourage them to color in their patterns. You can let them color in with crayons, markers, or other methods.
You can make these patterned letters as a fun collaboration between your students as they spell out a word to include on your bulletin board.
It’s a fun way to encourage your students to work together while allowing their creativity to shine.
2. Watercolor Leaf Patterns
Do you know how leaves begin to change color in the fall? It would be best if you encourage your students to use this as inspiration to create their leaf patterns.
They can paint their leaves using the watercolor-resist method. Using this technique, they can explore how their patterns are changing and what other methods students are using to create a fun and individual piece.
3. Print And Color Autumn Leaves
You can do this project in either fall or summer, so long as you have plenty of large leaves. Get your students to coat each of their leaves with white paint and press them onto black construction paper.
They can make as many prints as they like, and once the paint is dry, they can color each leaf using coloring pencils.
4. Watercolor Winter Landscapes
Kids can find watercolor paint tricky to understand, so you must help them master it while they are young. Using a combination of warm and cold colors, your students can make their winter landscapes.
This is a great exercise for your students to learn about color mixing and how they can mix colors to change their work.
5. Spiral Scribbles
We recommend encouraging your students to scribble a spiral if you want a simple art project with little prep. Using a basic circle template, let your students use various lines to create a circle effect.
The spiral scribbles look their best when using chalk art pastels, as you can see each line. So, free to give each student black paper and allow them to scribble to their heart’s content.
6. Bubblegum Self Portraits
Suppose you want to encourage a new way of doing a self-portrait. In that case, we recommend letting your students draw a bubblegum-blowing selfie.
Give each of your students a pre-tied balloon, and check if you have a photo of each student on hand. If not, give them a mirror and watch as they make a self-portrait of themselves.
This is a great exercise to teach your students to draw using correct proportions, then attach the balloon to the portrait. Hence, it looks like they’re blowing bubblegum.
7. Color Wheel Bouquet
The color wheel bouquet is a fun experiment with color and an enjoyable scavenger hunt for kids to play with. Using scrap paper, your students can make their color wheel bouquet.
This is a fun project to see if they can identify which colors are part of the color wheel and if they can successfully cut out different petals to form the wheel.
It’s a perfect task to improve their fine motor skills.
8. Color Wheel Turkey
When you need a project ready for Thanksgiving, it’s best to focus on the turkey. You can make templates for your students or encourage them to design their own.
Depending on how you want to do this project, you could encourage them to play with different mixed media to make their turkey’s feathers or encourage them to color in.
Your students have plenty of opportunities to experiment with this fun, festive craft.
9. Oil Pastel Painting
Oil pastels are always a fun treat for kids. You can give your students oil pastels and let them do a fun painting with them.
Whether it’s pumpkins or cups, there are plenty of fun paintings for you to do. You can also introduce them to the world of smudging, and see what techniques they will use to get their final result.
10. Crazy Hair Portraits
Get your students to make a simple portrait sketch of themselves or the person next to them, and let them draw it as they would normally.
Bring some construction paper when they finish the portrait, and let your students go wild. Using these scraps of paper, they can color and texture the hair onto their portrait.
It’s a simple activity that will keep all the kids entertained as they put a twist on an otherwise easy task.
11. Decorate A Picture Frame
Suppose you’re considering doing a fun art project for Mother’s Day or any other day. In that case, we recommend encouraging your students to design a picture frame for their mother, or other relatives.
These frames can show their favorite memories and are easy to make too. You only need acrylic paint, wooden rectangles, and any other additional materials they think will make their project stand out.
12. Rainbow Paper Weaving
Paper weaving is a fun task for students to enjoy. You can make it more interesting by encouraging them to make a rainbow.
This rainbow paper weaving task is a great way to ensure your students know all the rainbow colors.
You can also use this task to include a little extra science lesson, especially if you’ve already been doing lessons about the weather.
13. Design An Aquarium
You can get your students to build an aquarium for a fish they’ve designed. Your students will use a paper plate for the background and then make the fish from craft foam.
You can then decorate the aquarium with tissues, pebbles, and any other materials you have on hand. Your kids will love this creative design and be happy to show off their designs to everyone.
14. 3D Line Sculptures
Give each student a square paper section if you want an interesting collaborative project. Using the square paper as a base, they can add different paper strips to create a 3D art project.
If you’ve been looking for a way to get rid of scrap paper without throwing it away, this is the perfect task to ensure your students find a new use for it.
15. Wishbone Stick Weaving
Ultimately, any age group can wave their wishbone stick. Still, if you want to design it for your first graders, we recommend giving them a chunky yarn.
Your sticks should have a wide V, so your students will be able to needle in and out of the yarn.
Using this pattern, you can ensure they improve their fine motor skills and talent as they focus on making the yarn look good.
16. Monet Lily Pads
Monet’s lily pad paintings are some of his most famous works, and they’re a great project to inspire your students.
You can encourage your students to create their lily pads using mixed media by looking at Monet’s work. To make them unique, you can include a small clay frog on each pad as a cute little addition.
17. Draw Balloon Dogs
Everyone loves Jeff Koons’ balloon dogs, with the sculptures being popular with kids and adults alike. So, why not encourage your students to draw their own?
You can find many tutorials online to draw Koons’s balloon dog. It may be a great way to show your students how to consider the light’s reflection on the sculpture.
Plus, they can color it to make the balloon dog their own.
18. Circle Art Collaboration
Have you considered making a collaboration with each of your students? You can give each of your students a section using a large canvas.
Your students can then decorate their squares with circle art, creating a unique portrait for the class. You can create these projects using different paints, pastels, and more.
However, consider offering some students a template if they need help drawing circles.
19. Coffee Filter Blending
Using coffee filters to blend colors is a fun project for all ages. Your students will watch the colors bleed together to create new colors and patterns.
You don’t need many materials for this pattern either. Get coffee filters, washable markers, and a spray bottle filled with water.
Of course, don’t forget to bring plenty of newspapers and paper towels with you, or the colors may bleed onto your table.
20. Hot Air Balloon Collage
Do you want to encourage your students to make a portrait that they will love? If so, we recommend taking a photo of each of your students and having them pose like they’re on a hot air balloon.
Have each of your students build a collage of a hot air balloon. They can use a variety of scraps to create their balloon and incorporate different materials.
It’s a creative mixed-media project that will encourage your students to think outside the box.
21. Paper Bag 3D Houses
Suppose you want to encourage your student’s abilities to work on models. Please encourage your students to bring brown paper bags from the grocery store and use them as a base to build their houses.
Using different colors of construction paper, they can think about how they can decorate their house to create unique designs.
It’s an interesting way to teach your students about 3D modeling. They’ll also become more confident with cutting paper and cards, so consider this project to improve their fine motor skills.
22. Paper Bag Monsters
You can use brown paper bags to encourage your students to make monster designs. Your students can then utilize these designs as puppets, and you can encourage them to create their own shows.
It’s a cost-effective way for students to use their imaginations to recycle paper into something new. All you need is paper, cardboard, and other materials to create their unique monsters to perform skits with.
23. Alphabet Soup Painting
A fun first-grade art project is to get each of your students to prepare a bowl of alphabet soup.
This is a mixed media art project that your students will be able to use to not only make a creative piece but practice their letters too.
You can get your students to create a bowl of soup and shade, so their bowl of soup has a 3D effect. You’ll be surprised at how everything fits together when you add your plastic spoon and your alphabet.
24. Handprint Flamingos
Get each of your students to draw their hands and cut them out. You may need to help your students with this task, as only some have fine motor skills.
Using your students’ hands, they will become the flamingo’s body. All you need for this task is pink construction paper folded in half and some extra pieces for the rest of your flamingo’s body.
25. Symmetrical Snowflakes
Do you want to teach your students about symmetry, but you don’t want to worry them too much about math?
If you want a fun way to teach them, consider letting them design their snowflake on construction paper.
This is a fun winter activity that allows your students to understand how symmetry works. It can also be a fun, unique way to decorate your classroom in the winter.
26. Andrew Wyeth-Inspired Farms
Andrew Wyeth is known for his farm portraits, an excellent way to learn perspective. You can get your students to master perspective with this fun project.
You can encourage them to draw different vegetables and a farm in the distance.
They can think about the placement of various objects, and you can ensure your students know how to draw and color different landscapes.
27. 3D Perspective Painting
To help your students master perspective, you can also do a fun 3D painting. You need to give your students a reference point, and they can work towards it.
This project is a great opportunity to teach your students how reference points and perspective work and gives them an idea to understand 3D proportions in art.
28. Animal Letters
While this is a simple project for your students, it’s also one they will enjoy. Using a simple letter template, you can encourage your students to think of an animal to turn this letter into.
It’s a great way to combine different shapes and use your imagination to make your project new.
If you don’t want to draw a template, encourage your kids to think of a letter or assign them one to create a fun alphabet project.
29. Thiebauld-Inspired Cupcakes
Thiebauld is known for drawing realistic-looking cupcakes, and you can always take a page out of his book by having your students create their own.
Using different patterns, your students can create their cupcakes, the icing, and the wrapping, so each looks unique.
Using Thiebauld’s influence, you can make these different by using torn paper for the frosting and establishing a clear texture.
30. Textured Sunflowers
Do you want to get some inspiration from Vincent Van Gogh? He was famous for his paintings, including his painting of a sunflower.
Have your students draw their sunflowers first, then create dimension by outlining their paint with black glue.
Once your paint is dry, your students can paint their sunflowers with watercolors and have fun designing a brightly colored painting that stands out.
31. Easter Egg Painting
If you want an Easter project for your kids to work on for a display, we recommend having them paint their Easter eggs.
There are different ways you can do this. You could get a styrofoam egg to paint or offer an egg template for your students.
Use watercolors and pastels to have the colors stand out, and it’s a fun way for your students to engage with the holiday.
32. Cotton Sheep Project
If you haven’t heard of the cotton sheep project, it’s a project where you use cotton balls or yarn to create your sheep’s wool.
All you need is a sheep template that your kids have drawn, and you can stick cotton balls on your sheep to texturize it.
This fun project encourages your students to use their senses and create different textures with different yarns and cotton.
33. Bubble Wrap Sheep
You’ve heard of the cotton sheep art project, but did you know you can make a sheep with bubble wrap for wool?
Using black construction paper and bubble wrap, you can create the sheep and paint your bubble wrap in white or black or allow them to be creative.
Using this project, you can add more details to build a complete farm for your sheep to frolic.
34. Pollock-Inspired Paintings
You can introduce your students to the work of Jackson Pollock and his abstract work with this project. You’ll need a lot of newspaper and yarn for these paintings.
Using yarn, dip them into tempera paint and drip and drag over your paper to create an abstract design.
It’s a great way to introduce your students to new painting techniques and bring them back to basics by not only relying on brushes for painting.
35. Owl Mosaics
Basing your design off an owl, you can let your students work on their mosaics made from different scraps of paper.
This is a great way to improve your students’ scissors skills, and you can let them focus on the placement of each piece of paper.
You’ll find this project is a fun one to encourage students to find unique designs to fit their mosaics.
We hope that these projects have helped to inspire you when you’re considering a new project for your students to work on.
If you want to spark their creativity, it’s essential you work on new projects each week with different techniques.
Your students will love these 35 projects and will have no trouble improving their fine motor skills and understanding colors with the help of your lessons.
If you would like any more inspiration for your lesson plans, please consider looking at our other articles to discover more ideas to expand your lesson plans.
It doesn’t matter how old your students are or what subject you’re teaching. We have something for every teacher to find new projects for their students to learn.
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