- By the time a child reaches first grade, he or she has developed more complex fine motor skills than that of a preschooler or kindergarten-aged student. Teachers can help children to grow artistically and improve dexterity and eye-hand coordination through a variety of painting art projects. Additionally, students in first grade are ready to start learning appropriate art vocabulary words such as foreground/middle-ground/background, landscape, portrait or horizon line. Choose a specific theme such as outdoors (i.e., landscapes and cityscapes), people (portraits) or even animals. Provide the children with an image or model to look at before asking them to paint. Ask the students to explain what they are painting, and give a specific example such as a dog, a policeman or a forest. Use thick-handled paint brushes for large areas and thin-handled ones for smaller details.
- Expand a traditional cut and glue collage project into a mixed media adventure. Use a cardboard rectangle as a base, and give your students a variety of papers, glue, paints and crayons to work with. Start with the cut or torn paper and glue. Next, add a splash of color with paint or crayons. Select a classroom topic that your first graders are covering. This can be from almost any area of the curriculum. Create a letter collage for language arts using cut out words, a community helpers collage for social studies, or a math collage with numbers.
Sculpture Art Projects
- First graders are capable of trying a variety of different sculpture, or three-dimensional, art projects using multiple materials. One simple sculpture activity is a modeling clay project. Simply divide up a few different colors into small lumps, and encourage the children to roll, pound and build projects. Try a construction such as a log cabin, animal farm or insects. For a different sculptural experience, try a paper mache masterpiece. Use commercially sold paper paste, or make your own with flour and water. Start with an armature or skeleton, and cover with cut paper and paste. For example, make a globe using a balloon as an armature. Cover with blue paper, and then paint on green continents.
Art History Projects
- Connect your art activities to cultural or historical curriculum ideas. Choose a period in time such as ancient Greece, the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, or choose a specific culture from around the world. Show the students examples of artwork from the time or culture, and use paints, papers, markers, clay and more to emulate what they see. For example, discuss the decorative low relief sculpture found on the exterior of many ancient Greek and Roman buildings. Give the students a thick piece of cardboard as a base and modeling clay to create their own special relief. Draw a design onto the cardboard with a pencil, and then press the clay on top of the pencil lines. If it doesn't stick, use a few dabs of school glue to hold in place.