The benefits of art education are further reaching than many people realize. Besides boosting students’ creative-thinking skills, engagement in the arts can help students improve their performance in other areas, including math and reading. It can also help with critical thinking, concentration, confidence, and motivation. Since learning about different art movements and mediums are important parts of art education, we gathered a list of diverse and interesting art projects for middle schoolers. Give one a try during your next art class!
1. Giant-sized comic strip
Regardless of your artistic abilities, creating comic strips is a fun way to express yourself. We especially love the idea of getting down on the floor and creating a larger-than-life story. You can also use this as a collaborative art project and have different groups of students tackle different parts of a story that you come up with together as a class.
Learn more: Make Your Own Giant Comic Strip at What Do We Do All Day?
2. Oil pastel candles
Before tackling this project, have your students try out creating oil pastel gradients in their sketchbooks. Then, use a guided drawing to have students draw their candle shape and size on blue pastel paper. This is so creative because while everyone has the same subject matter, no two candles and no two flames will look the same.
Learn more: Oil Pastel Candle Art Lesson at That Art Teacher
3. Mixed-media collage
Before doing this project, teach your students about a number of different collage artists. Then, have students thoughtfully compile different things to include in their collage. This project is particularly personal and will reflect each student’s individuality.
Learn more: Mixed Media Collage at Anita Sagastegui
4. Animal mosaics
Some art projects for middle schoolers are complex but well worth the effort. This is one of those projects since it is part carpentry and part art. Students will learn to safely use plywood, electric jigsaws, and sanders to create these spectacular animal mosaics. You’ll also want to teach kids a bit about the history of mosaic art.
Learn more: All in Pieces at Davis Art
5. 3D snowflakes
Get your free 3D snowflake template at the link below and then get crafting. We all remember making paper snowflakes at school or at home, but these 3D snowflakes really take this beloved project up a level. Add sparkles and sequins and you have some gorgeous classroom decor for the winter months.
Learn more: Stunning 3D Snowflake Craft at Kids Craft Room
6. Faux stained glass
While this project can be done by kids as young as toddlers, it’s also a fun project for middle schoolers. Hand out pieces of wax paper and then have students dab on large, thick piles of paint. Next, take bottle caps and have them push the paint into the wax paper for a stained-glass effect. Finally, once dry, have your students use a Sharpie to define designs throughout. Once dry, hang in the window for a dazzling effect.
Learn more: Stained Glass at Happy Hooligans
7. Neuro-Doodle designs
This is a perfect lesson for teaching about line quality and weights while also experimenting with different mediums. We love middle school art projects that give students experience with a variety of materials, and this one does just that! Students will try their hand at using felt-tip black markers, watercolor paints, colored markers, and colored pencils.
8. Figure drawing
Drawing from life is always ideal, especially when the human body is involved. Middle school students are at an ideal age to learn to sketch different poses quickly. And charcoal makes for an ideal medium.
9. Bubble wrap trees
Learning to paint can feel daunting to some students, but it definitely doesn’t have to be! Introducing students to acrylic paint before oil paint is often the best way to go. This art project uses unconventional materials like bubble wrap for a fun and somewhat easy painting project.
10. Art history timeline
The visual arts are an important part of an art education, but middle school art projects should include art history as well. This project combines both. Have students select an artist or time period and then have them create a timeline like the sample at the link below. Then have them present their timelines to the entire class.
Learn more: Art History Timeline at Hey That’s My Art Teacher
Art projects for middle schoolers that force kids to think deeply are some of our favorites. This project teaches a typical art lesson like how to create a self-portrait but makes it more personal through additional imagery and words.
Learn more: The Real Me Art Lesson at Art With Mrs. E.
12. Yarn painting
Yarn, scissors, heavy paper, and glue are all you need to create these pretty yarn paintings. Well, maybe that and also a hefty dose of patience. This is a project that will likely take a couple of classes to complete. Art projects for middle schoolers like this one provide students with a lot of opportunity to individualize their works through creative choices.
13. Texture relief
Before working on this project, teach your students a bit about texture, and show them lots of examples of artworks that include different textures. Have students bring in different items to include as part of the texture in their project (think leaves, sticks, burlap, etc.). Then, have them cover those items in tinfoil, being careful to reveal all of the different surfaces. Once that step is done, they will need to apply black paint to the surface of the tinfoil. Once dry, have them use steel wool to reveal the texture. These make for an impressive finished product.
14. Wire stocking sculpture
This idea is so unique and it yields impressive results. Build off a lesson on cubism and sculpture by having your students construct sculptures from a soft block of wood, a wire coat hanger, a nylon stocking, and some paint.
15. Playing cards with a twist
We love art projects for middle schoolers that require patience, creativity, and even communication. To begin, students are tasked with coming up with a design for a playing card that involves an animal. They initially design just the top part of the playing card and then use tracing paper to replicate the design onto the rest of the card. Finally, pair up students and have them explain how to execute their original design to someone else.
Learn more: A Playing Card With a Twist at Just Your Everyday Art Teacher
16. Pop art candy paintings
This is the perfect project to pair with a lesson on the pop art movement. And all you need is some tempera paint and a black Sharpie.
Learn more: Pop Art! Candy Paintings at Art at Becker Middle School
17. Fingerprint self-portraits
Before working on this project, have students gather old magazines to bring in for inspiration. To begin, have students go through the magazines to find words that appeal to them and describe themselves. Then, have them draw the outline of their fingerprint on a piece of paper and paste the words down.
18. Vortex drawings
Learning to draw vortexes is a fun exercise that is developmentally appropriate for middle schoolers! Follow the video tutorial above.
19. Mixed-media still life
Students will love the agency they have over this project since they get to choose what materials to use for their mixed media (newspaper, magazines, cardboard, etc.). Learning to draw from a still life setup is a vital part of any art education, and we think the addition of the mixed media really ups the ante.
20. Skyline printmaking
Printmaking is a fun lesson to teach at any age, but we think it is perfect for middle schoolers. This project begins with creating a stamp of a cityscape out of a foam plate and then transferring it to paper using a paint roller. You may choose to have students begin this lesson by painting their background first with watercolors.
Learn more: Printmaking at Painted Paper Art
21. One-point perspective
Learning about perspective is certainly one of the foremost lessons in any art education. This video does a good job teaching how to use one-point perspective to re-create a school hallway.
22. Keith Haring–inspired art
Keith Haring was easily one of the most influential artists of the 1980s. His legacy includes bringing graffiti art into the mainstream as well as drawing attention to the AIDS epidemic. This video is a good introduction to the artist and his work and even includes a visual art lesson on how students can create their own Haring-inspired artwork.
23. Pop art sculpture
The main objective of this project is to task your students with creating a 3D television sculpture in a pop art style. Have them bring in an empty shoebox and then provide them with a number of different materials. Before getting started, be sure to go over background, middle ground, and foreground.
Learn more: Prime Time Televisions at Davis Art
24. Personalized soda can label
This art project is simple, and it teaches students about marketing and brand design. Just have students design their very own soda can label complete with text and corresponding images.
Learn more: Personal Soda Can Label at The Art of Education University
25. Water droplet drawing
This is a great lesson on creating dimension on a flat surface. It also introduces students to the concept of shading. Your students will get a kick out of watching their water droplets come to life using nothing more than a pencil and paper.