Education

45 Amazing 1st Grade Art Projects to Bring Back Creativity and Play

One of the best ways to have fun with firsties is arts and crafts! At this age, they love to create something cool to take home and show off. These first grade art projects give them the chance to experience new materials and explore new techniques. They also introduce kids to many famous artists, like Paul Klee and Van Gogh. There are enough ideas here to keep your creative students busy all year long!

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1. 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 overtop to simulate skywriting from a paper plane.

Learn more: Art With Mrs. Fillmore

2. Take inspiration from a Calder sculpture

Sculptures made of colorful construction paper in abstract shapes

Oversize sculptures like Calder’s are accessible and fun for kids of any age. Recreate them in paper form with this engaging art project for first graders.

Learn more: Pink Stripey Socks

3. Cut out cute cardinals

1st Grade Art

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 just like his.

Learn more: Elements of the Art Room

4. Print and color autumn leaves

Leaf printed with white paint and tinted with colored pencils on black paper (First Grade Art Projects)

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

5. Arrange an abstract alphabet

Alphabet letters drawn at random with color and patterns added

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

6. Collaborate on a group mobile

Mobile made of a variety of paper circles in different colors and patterns (First Grade Art Project)

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

7. Be Big! with a self-portrait

Crayon drawing of a child on a long piece of paper folded in quarters (First Grade Art)

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.

8. Fill in colorful emus

Emu heads made of colorful lines with large eyes (First Grade Art)

This project is a snap, thanks to the free printable emu template. Use felt-tip pens for the beak and eyes and oil pastels for the rest.

Learn more: Lernfrosch

9. Weave wishbone sticks

Forked stick with yarn stripes woven between the twigs

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

10. Recreate a starry skyscape

Simple reproduction of Van Gogh's Starry Night done with oil pastels (First Grade Art)

Here’s a simple but impressive project to try. Oil pastels are easy to use while making kids feel like real artists. Let them use their own techniques to recreate Van Gogh’s famous Starry Night.

Learn more: Zilker Elementary Art Class

11. Copy Van Gogh’s stars in clay

Clay stars swirled with Van Gogh designs

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

12. Add texture to sunflowers with glue

Sunflowers made by outlining them with black glue and filling in with water colors (First Grade Art)

Here’s one more take on Van Gogh, this time focusing on his sunflowers. Impressionism is known for textures, so this first grade science 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.

Source: The Rolling Art Room

13. Chalk a fluttering butterfly

Butterfly art made with chalk pastels and black construction paper

Chalk art pastels produce impressive results at any age. This first grade art project has a fun but simple 3-D element too.

Learn more: Preschool Mom 

14. Paint Cezanne-style apples

Cezanne-style painting of a bowl of apples against a colorful background

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. Voilà!

Learn more: Art Rocks

15. Hop onto Monet lily pads

Cardboard ponds with crayon lily pads and sculpted clay frogs (First Grade Art)

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

16. Color-mix to create winter landscapes

Painting of large yellow and orange sun on a blue sky with snow and bare black trees

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

17. Make Mondrian-patterned hearts

Piet Mondrian squares print surrounded by hearts with a similar pattern (First Grade Art)

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

18. Fly some cool koinobori kites

Colorful fish-shaped kites hanging in a window

Try an Asian-inspired art project with these colorful fish kites! May 5th 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: Cassie Stephens

19. Give colorful birds a Dalí twist

Long-legged blue birds on a watercolor background of yellow, orange, and pink

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 loooong legs are a tribute to the master of the unexpected, Salvador Dalí.

Learn more: Mrs. T’s First Grade Class

20. Sculpt the cutest owl vignettes

Brown and orange clay owls perched on sticks and mounted on black plaques (First Grade Art)

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

21. Doodle like Kandinsky

First grade art student adding blue watercolor to a page of scribbles using a cotton swab

Kandinsky is known for his circles, but his other abstract work is mesmerizing too. Read the book The Noisy Paintbox 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

22. Start with a dot

Black crayon drawing of child holding an ice cream cone, with a house and trees

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

23. Think in circles

Canvas divided into squares, with different circle patterns and colors in each

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

24. Scribble a spiral

Spiral made of crayon scribbles and painted over with black watercolors

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

25. Use shapes to create Klee-inspired villages

Crayon cityscapes draw in the cubist style of Paul Klee (First Grade Art)

Learn about Paul Klee’s Cubist paintings, then create your own with oil pastels and watercolors. These vibrant pieces are sure to brighten your classroom walls!

Learn more: Young Art Love

26. Blend colors using coffee filters

Coffee filters dyed a rainbow of colors

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

27. Compose a color wheel bouquet

Flowers made of scraps of paper and fabric representing the color wheel (First Grade Art)

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

28. Float away with mixed-media collages

Brightly-patterned paper hot air balloon on a marker-striped background with the photograph of a child in the basket

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

29. Build baskets with yarn and glue

Small baskets made of colorful yarn stiffened with glue (First Grade Art)

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

30. Paint like Pollock

First grade art student pulling paint-covered yarn along a piece of paper

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

31. Craft cleverly camouflaged lizards

Paper lizards colored to camouflage themselves against a striped and zebra background

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  

32. Fashion a paper rainbow

White paper cloud with green, yellow, orange, and red strips woven through it (First Grade Art)

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

33. Put the “A” in STEAM

Mixed media first grade art projects showing chalk bubbles and paper beakers painted in various patterns

This mixed-media project has several components, so plan to do it over several days. The results are worth it, and so much fun!

Learn more: Cassie Stephens

34. Play with patterns

Crayon drawing of a leaf divided and painted different colors and 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

35. Explore African art with Anansi

Chalk spiderweb drawn on black construction paper, with patterned paper spider on top (First Grade Art)

Read the story of Anansi the Spider, an African folk hero. Then create textured paper to make the spider, and give him a detailed web to hang out on!

Learn more: Please Don’t Eat the Artwork

36. Draw a fox step-by-step

Simple fox drawn in pastels, sitting on a green hill

First graders are just starting to move away from stick figures and into more advanced drawings. Hit the link for a step-by-step tutorial that even little ones can follow with oil pastels.

Learn more: Art Projects for Kids

37. Make plastic bag monoprints

Student using a plastic bag to print paint stripes on a piece of paper

Dive deeper into abstract art with this easy printing project. Kids paint designs onto plastic bags, then press them onto paper for interesting results. 

Learn more: Please Don’t Eat the Artwork

38. Sculpt speckled fish

45 Amazing 1st Grade Art Projects to Bring Back Creativity and Play

This first grade art project requires a kiln for best results. The real star of the show is the Mayco Jungle Gems glaze, which bursts into cool patterns when fired.

Learn more: Cassie Stephens

39. Teach them to draw little birdies

Paper birdhouses and instructions on how to draw a simple bird that starts with an arrow

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

40. Design autumn scarecrows

Fabric scrap scarecrows on a bright background of fields and sky

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 the pants, shirt, and hat.)

Learn more: Deep Space Sparkle

41. Make fine art with some fine lines

Worksheet of circles turned into a variety of funny faces

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

42. Whip up a bowl of alphabet soup

Mixed media art project showing bowl of alphabet soup with a napkin and a real spoon holding an alphabet bead

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

43. Construct colorful 3-D  houses

Paper lunch bag stuffed and turned into a house, sitting on construction paper lawn with a tree and road

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

44. Put together mosaic owls

Owl face made with small scraps of colored paper

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

45. Swim with the seahorses

Painted seahorses in the style of Eric Carlyle

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

Keep the creativity going with these 25 Fun First Grade Writing & Storytelling Prompts!

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