58 Amazing First Grade Art Projects To Inspire Creativity and Play
Keep the fun going all year long with this roundup of creative, simple, and fun first grade art projects. Whether you feel like diving into painting, pattern-making, mixed media, or sculpture, there is something for everyone on this list. We have projects that can be tackled over multiple classes as well as projects that can be completed in under an hour. Students will learn basic art concepts like color mixing while discovering famous artists. Your little artists will be proud to take their masterpieces home!
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1. Hang 3D line sculptures
Simple strips of paper become a striking display in this cool collaborative first grade art project. It’s a clever way to use up some scraps of construction paper too.
Learn More: Art With Mrs. Filmore/Line Art Sculptures
2. Sketch balloon dogs
Jeff Koons’ balloon dog sculptures are a hit with kids and adults alike. Let kids draw their own using a walk-through video to get them started.
Learn more: Kim & Karen: 2 Soul Sisters
3. Go wild for self-portraits
Start with a simple self-portrait sketch. Then let kids go wild with the hair, adding paper strips in crazy colors and patterns.
Learn more: Granny Goes to School
4. Point out perspective with Andrew Wyeth farms
Even firsties can master perspective with this easy project. The dot-painted flowers and vegetables are fun and easy too.
Learn more: Ms. Curry’s Art Room
5. Fly cotton-skywriting planes
This mixed-media idea is so clever! Kids use tissue squares to create a colorful sky background, then glue cotton batting over the top to simulate skywriting from a paper plane.
Learn more: Art With Mrs. Filmore/Skywriting Planes
6. Make an aquarium
Begin by having your students paint a plate blue, then have them create a goldfish using craft foam. Finally, piece it all together and decorate the aquarium with colored pebbles, sand, or anything else of your choosing!
Learn more: First Palette
7. Take inspiration from a Calder sculpture
Oversize sculptures like Alexander Calder’s are accessible and fun for kids of any age. Re-create them in paper form with this engaging art project for first graders.
Learn more: Pink Stripey Socks
8. Cut out cute cardinals
If you haven’t seen Charley Harper’s wonderful wildlife art, you should definitely check it out. Share it with your students, then get ready to create these charming cardinals.
Learn more: Elements of the Art Room/Charley Harper inspired Cardinals
9. Print and color autumn leaves
Gather large leaves to use for this project. Kids coat them with white paint, then press them on black paper to make prints. Once the paint is dry, they add various hues using colored pencils.
Learn more: New City Arts
10. Arrange an abstract alphabet
Grab some markers and have your first grade art students write the letters of the alphabet randomly all over a piece of paper. Then, use color to fill in enclosed areas. The possibilities are endless!
Learn more: Art Is Basic
11. Turn letters into animals
This is another simple way to combine letters with art. Have kids draw any letter they like, then turn it into any animal they choose!
Learn more: Art With Mrs. Nguyen
12. Create a bubblegum self-portrait
This is such a fun spin on a traditional self-portrait! Your students will definitely get a kick out of adding their “bubblegum” to their masterpieces.
Learn more: Art With Mrs. Filmore
13. Collaborate on a group mobile
Collaborative art projects are always a lot of fun. This one creates a beautiful mobile perfect for hanging in the classroom or offering up at a school art auction.
Learn more: So Much to Make
14. Be Big! with a self-portrait
Kick off the school year by reading Be Big! Beatrice’s First Day of First Grade. Then, make these cute self-portraits to show your kids just how big they’re getting.
Learn more: Art With Jenny K.
15. Frost Thiebaud-inspired cupcakes
Learn about realism in art, and take a look at Wayne Thiebaud’s colorful paintings of pastries for inspiration. Then make your own patterned cupcakes with torn-paper frosting. Yum!
Learn more: Artolazzi
16. Weave wishbone sticks
This project can be adapted for any age, but for first grade art students, use thick, chunky yarn and sticks with a wide “V,” along with blunt plastic darning needles. The “in and out” pattern of the yarn will help improve dexterity and fine motor skills.
Learn more: A Faithful Attempt
17. Re-create a starry skyscape
Here’s a simple but impressive project to try. Oil pastels are easy to use and make kids feel like real artists. Let them use their own techniques to re-create Van Gogh’s famous Starry Night.
Learn more: Zilker Elementary Art Class
18. Create a cute polar bear
Have your students paint the background using watercolor or tempera paint, then get started on the polar bear. Have students draw two ears, a round face, and the body on white paper with black marker, then cut the pieces out. Finally, let your students personalize their bears with their choice of expression or attire.
Learn more: Artsy Momma
19. Copy Van Gogh’s stars in clay
Want to try a different take on the classic painting? These Van Gogh–inspired clay stars are the way to go! (They also make excellent holiday ornaments.)
Learn more: Adventures in the Art Studio
20. Add texture to sunflowers with glue
Here’s one more take on Van Gogh, this time focusing on his sunflowers. Impressionism is known for textures, so this first grade art project uses black glue to give dimension to simple sunflowers. Kids draw the sunflowers, then outline them with glue. When the glue is dry, add soft, beautiful watercolors.
Learn more: The Rolling Art Room
21. Chalk a fluttering butterfly
Chalk art pastels produce impressive results at any age. This first grade art project has a fun but simple 3D element too.
Learn more: Preschool Mom
22. Paint Cézanne-style apples
This may seem too complicated for a first grade art project, but you can attack it in several steps. Teach kids to draw the bowl and apples. Then, have them draw the outlines with oil pastel to create a barrier. Paint the apples red and then the background with colorful watercolors, and voilà!
Learn more: Art Rocks
23. Create a friendly giraffe
Pair this cute art project with a lesson on giraffes! Read books like Giraffes Can’t Dance or watch some videos on these tall creatures before doing a guided drawing of a general giraffe shape. Once the shape is there, let your students personalize their giraffes in any way they wish.
Learn more: Wow Art Project
24. Hop onto Monet lily pads
Monet’s lily pond paintings are among his most famous. Take a look at some of them, then have kids create their own mixed-media lily pad projects adorned with cute clay frogs!
Learn more: Jamestown Elementary Art Blog
25. Color-mix to create winter landscapes
This simple art project combines a surprising amount of concepts, including color mixing, stamping, and honing fine motor skills. And the results are pretty striking.
Learn more: Elements of the Art Room/Winter Landscapes
26. Make Mondrian-patterned hearts
Mondrian’s bright, simple patterns are very appealing to young kids. They’ll enjoy mimicking his style with this easy activity.
Learn more: Mrs. T’s First Grade Class/Mondrian-Style Hearts
27. Fly some cool koinobori kites
Try an Asian-inspired art project with these colorful fish kites! May 5 is Children’s Day in Japan, and these koinobori are an important part of the celebration. Firsties in any country will love creating their own kites in springtime or anytime!
Learn more: Art Teacherin’ 101/Koinobori Kites
28. Paint Easter eggs
This is such a fun art project and the technique can definitely be used for more than just Easter eggs. Use a wax crayon or oil pastel to draw the designs onto the egg, then color some of the spaces with crayon. Finally, use watercolor to paint over the whole egg with a single color. It’s so cool to watch the way the paint avoids the crayon and allows the designs to peek through.
Learn more: Deep Space Sparkle
29. Give colorful birds a Dalí twist
Giant birds with super wiggly and silly legs? First graders will love the silliness of this project, but it’s not all just fun and games. These watercolor birds show the differences between warm and cool colors, and the long legs are a tribute to the master of the unexpected, Salvador Dalí.
Learn more: Mrs. T’s First Grade Class/Dali Spring Birds
30. Sculpt the cutest owl vignettes
This is a unique twist on standard clay projects. The owls themselves are easy to create, and mounting them on a wood plaque really makes this first grade art activity stand out.
Learn more: Art With Mr. Giannetto/Clay Owls
31. Doodle like Kandinsky
Kandinsky is known for his circles, but his other abstract work is mesmerizing too. Read the book The Noisy Paint Box to learn about the artist’s life. Then use black markers, watercolors, and cotton swabs to help achieve that muted color/haze.
Learn more: Hayt Art Room
32. Start with a dot
The Dot is a favorite read-aloud and the perfect springboard for so many art activities! In this one, kids take a single dot and turn it into whatever they can imagine.
Learn more: Firstieland
33. Explore color
This is the perfect first grade art project when you are short on time since it can be completed in an hour or less. Before beginning, read the book Mix It Up! with your students to introduce the concept of color mixing.
Learn more: Leah Newton Art
34. Think in circles
Divide a large canvas into even squares. Each student gets a square to decorate with their own circle art, creating a cohesive but unique whole.
Learn more: THe ARt Cart
35. Scribble a spiral
Teach contrasting colors and composition with this simple project, using crayons and watercolors. It’s like tie-dye for paper!
Learn more: Miss Young’s Art Room
36. Use shapes to create Klee-inspired villages
Learn about Paul Klee’s cubist paintings, then have kids create their own with oil pastels and watercolors. These vibrant pieces are sure to brighten your classroom walls!
Learn more: Young Art Love
37. Blend colors using coffee filters
There’s a reason this project is so popular: It’s mesmerizing to watch colors bleed together and create a rainbow of new colors and patterns. All you need are color filters, washable markers, a spray bottle of water, and newspaper or paper towels.
Learn more: The Kitchen Table Classroom
38. Compose a color wheel bouquet
This first grade art project is part treasure hunt and part art lesson. Pull out your box of scrap paper and have students dig through to find the pieces they need to complete a color wheel daisy. You’ll wind up with a whole garden!
Learn more: Deep Space Sparkle/Color Wheel Bouquet
39. Float away with mixed-media collages
The personal aspect of this mixed-media hot-air balloon collage is what really makes it stand out! (Tip: Trim the student pictures yourself since the detailed cuts may be too much for little fingers.)
Learn more: Art With Mrs. Filmore/Hot-Air Balloons
40. Build baskets with yarn and glue
There are no major weaving skills required for these wacky baskets. Simply dip strips of yarn into glue and lay over an upside-down paper cup or bowl. When the glue dries, remove the paper cup, and you’ve got a basket!
Learn more: Eighteen25
41. Drip like Pollock
Here’s a great use for yarn scraps. Kids dip yarn into tempera paint, then drip or drag it over the paper to create abstract designs reminiscent of Jackson Pollock. (Tip: Read Action Jackson first for inspiration.)
Learn more: Deep Space Sparkle/Paint Like Pollock
42. Craft cleverly camouflaged lizards
Combine art and science with a lesson about camouflage! Then challenge your students to create a patterned background for a paper lizard to blend into.
Learn more: Mrs. Henry’s Class Blog
43. Fashion a paper rainbow
Paper weaving is a fun and simple craft that opens up lots of possibilities. Firsties will enjoy making these pretty rainbows; you could even tie it in with a lesson about weather!
Learn more: Elements of the Art Room/Paper Rainbow
44. Practice pattern making
This is a fun way to have the class work on a group project since each kid can take a different letter that can be used to spell something out on a bulletin board, etc. Print the outline of the letters, then let your students create patterns inside them with crayons or other media.
Learn more: Art Is Basic
45. Put the “A” in STEAM
This mixed-media project has several components, so plan to do it over several days. The results are worth it, and they’re so much fun!
Learn more: Art Teacherin’ 101/Mad Scientist
46. Play with patterns
When the leaves start to change color, try this pretty project using the watercolor-resist method. Students can really let their imaginations run wild with the pattern designs and color choices.
Learn more: Art Projects for Kids/Leaf Patterns
47. Explore African art with Anansi
Read the story of Anansi the Spider, an African folk hero. Then use African art styles to make Anansi pictures to hang in the classroom.
Learn more: Mrs. Knight’s Smartest Artists
48. Draw a fox step-by-step
First graders are just starting to move away from stick figures and into more advanced drawing. Hit the link for a step-by-step tutorial that even little ones can follow with oil pastels.
Learn more: Art Projects for Kids/Draw a Fox
49. Color blend on bottle prints
This is a neat way to learn about color blends. Imagine the bottles lined up in a sunny window and use markers, paints, or crayons to fill in the colors you’d see.
Learn more: Mr. O’s Art Room
50. Sculpt speckled fish
This first grade art project requires a kiln for best results. The real star of the show is the magic glaze, which bursts into cool patterns when fired.
Learn more: Art Teacherin’ 101/Clay Fish
51. Teach them to draw little birdies
Kids will be amazed when they learn to draw this simple bird starting with an arrow. They’ll also love designing birdhouses for their avian friends, which culminates in a fantastic classroom display that’s perfect for spring.
Learn more: Ms. L’s Art Room
52. Design autumn scarecrows
After painting a vivid background of sky and fields, students root through the scrap paper bin to assemble colorful scarecrows for the finishing touch. (Tip: Create templates to make it easier for them to cut out the pants, shirt, and hat.)
Learn more: Deep Space Sparkle/Autumn Scarecrows
53. Make fine art with some fine lines
Start with a sheet of circles (pre-printed, or have kids trace them from templates). Then have firsties add bold lines to design a variety of faces. This quick and simple activity is lots of fun and really sets their creativity free.
Learn more: The Art Room
54. Whip up a bowl of alphabet soup
Yup, this is really a first grade art project! Kids practice their letters and learn about mixed media, tackling the activities in steps. The plastic spoons with alphabet letters added at the end really make the pieces pop!
Learn more: Art With Mrs. Filmore/Alphabet Soup
55. Construct colorful 3D houses
Learn about architecture styles and skills, then design paper bag houses! Encourage students to add plenty of personal details to make the designs their own.
Learn more: Snippety Gibbet
56. Put together mosaic owls
Paper mosaics are like a puzzle you create yourself, plus they give kids practice with scissor skills. And these owl faces are just adorable!
Learn more: Friendly Froggies
57. Swim with the seahorses
This bright project is inspired by Eric Carle’s Mister Seahorse. Kids use a variety of art methods to create these cheery underwater scenes.
Learn more: Art With Mr. Giannetto/Seahorses
58. Spread your wings
This is such a unique way to incorporate an entire grade into one project while also creating the cutest photo op ever!
Learn more: Darlington School
Keep the creativity going with these 25 Fun First Grade Writing & Storytelling Prompts!
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