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

There’s an artist inside all of us.

1st Grade Art

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Break out the crayons, paints, pastels, and clay—it’s time to find inspiration for your next 1st grade art project. These ideas offer a wide variety of art types, concepts, and skills to engage your students and create meaningful art they’ll love to display!

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1. Chalk a fluttering butterfly.

1st Grade Art

Chalk art pastels produce impressive results at any age. This 1st grade art project has a fun but simple 3-D element too.

Learn more: Preschool Mom 

2. Paint Cezanne-style apples.

1st Grade Art

This may seem too complicated for a 1st 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

3. Color-mix to create winter landscapes.

1st Grade Art

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

4. Weave wishbone sticks.

1st Grade Art

This project can be adapted for any age, but for 1st 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

5. Make Mondrian-patterned hearts.

1st 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

6. Arrange an abstract alphabet.

1st Grade Art

Grab some markers and have your 1st 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

7. Fly some cool koinobori kites.

1st Grade Art

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

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

Learn more: Mrs. T’s First Grade Class

9. 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 1st grade art activity stand out.

Learn more: Art With Mr. Giannetto

10. 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  

11. Take inspiration from a Calder sculpture.

1st Grade Art

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

12. 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

13. Use shapes to create Klee-inspired villages.

1st 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

14. 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

15. Collaborate on a group mobile.

1st Grade Art

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

16. Add texture to sunflowers with glue.

1st Grade Art

Impressionism is known for textures, and this 1st grade science project recreates Van Gogh’s sunflowers with the help of some black glue. Kids draw the sunflowers, then outline them with glue. When the glue is dry, add soft beautiful watercolors.

Source: The Rolling Art Room

17. Recreate a starry skyscape.

Speaking of Van Gogh, 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 the famous Starry Night.

Learn more: Zilker Elementary Art Class

18. Put the “A” in STEAM.

1st Grade Art

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

19. 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

20. Doodle like Kandinsky.

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

21. Start with a dot.

1st Grade Art

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

22. Think in circles.

1st Grade Art

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

23. 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

24. Compose a color wheel bouquet.

1st Grade Art

This 1st 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

25. Fill in colorful emus.

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

26. Float away with mixed-media collages.

1st Grade Art

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

27. 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

28. Paint 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

29. Sculpt speckled fish. 

This 1st 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

30. 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

31. Explore African art with Anansi.

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

32. Draw a fox step-by-step.

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

33. Make plastic bag monoprints.

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

34. 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

35. 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 the pants, shirt, and hat.)

Learn more: Deep Space Sparkle

36. 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

37. Whip up a bowl of alphabet soup.

1st Grade Art

Yup, this is really a 1st 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

38. Construct colorful 3-D  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

39. 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

40. 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

Proud of what your firsties have achieved? Come share their amazing artwork on the WeAreTeachers Chat group on Facebook!

Plus, check out our favorite 50 Books for First Grade.

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

Posted by Jill Staake

Jill Staake is a writer living in Tampa, Florida. She's spent most of her life teaching in traditional classrooms and beyond, from 8th grade English to butterfly encounters, and believes learning is a life-long process.

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