Please Don't Eat the Artwork


Art Hands


This lesson is based on a project by Cassie Stephens

020 (2).JPG

This multi-media, multi-step, marvelous project was a hit! I am so impressed with the amazing work 1st graders created. We began by using texture mats and crayons on 12×18 paper.


Students used watercolor paints to create a resist.


While they filled their paper with a variety of textures and colors, I made my way around the room and painted their hands. WHAT MS. K?! YOU PAINTED KID’S HANDS.. . . ON PURPOSE?!?! This was incredibly exciting for the kiddos and as you can imagine they were just thrilled with the opportunity to have paint all over their hands and for once not get in trouble for it! They got to choose their color from a palette of tempera cakes and I used a soft foam brush to (quite ticklishly) paint their hands.


They stamped their painted hands onto another piece of paper, making sure to spread out their fingers and get their whole hand to fit on the page. In the 2nd day, we read this excellent story:


We talked about how even though some people are called “white” their skin is actually peach or tan and while some people are called “black” their skin is different shades of brown. This discussion was a great exercise in character building and cultural awareness for my students. They drew an oval on a paper, added 2 parallel lines for the neck and then used tempera cakes to mix their own skin color. It was tricky for some but with some extra color mixing discussions, most students were successful!

003 (2)

Some of my classes were behind so we jumped into the last day from there. Others had an extra week so we used it to create patterned paper for the clothes.


We also used crayons or Art Stix to draw an expressive face.


The last day was spent putting it all together. Students cut out the head. . .


The hands (which we drew a bubble around first to make cutting easier) . . .


And a curved line for the shirt. Classes who did not create the patterned paper used colorful construction paper. Then they glued it all together and if they had enough time, could add a hat, bow, or other accessories. I am thrilled with how much personality these have. They have already received many compliments from teachers and one teacher was so excited about these self portraits that she is planning on doing a writing assignment with her students about them! I am such a huge fan of these types of mixed media, multi step process works because I believe they help students with so many different types of critical thinking and cognitive processes. It may be messy – but it’s worth it!

Author: artwithmsk

Hello! My name is Ms. Katzin and I am an art teacher at an elementary school near Atlanta, Georgia. Teaching art is my passion and I love what I do!

9 thoughts on “Art Hands

  1. AMAZING! Love these pictures.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. These are wonderful and I love the process!

  3. Great lesson, Mollie Hannah! if you haven’t read the children’s book, Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, you should! I read it almost every year with my students, and we get into amazing conversations about the color of our skin!

  4. Hi Ms Katzin, I’m also an art teacher. How old are these 1st graders? I teach kindergarten student art only. I visit schools and I give them an art session once in a week. Kids here start kinder or preschool at 3 years of age. I feel this age is a bit too young for kids to start attending school. I like to do sensory art work with them. Sonja

    • Hi Sonja! It can be really tough to find developmentally appropriate art projects for children that young. Before teaching art in the elementary school, I worked at a Montessori school where I did art with kids age 2-5. I found that the best way to make sure their artwork was authentic and engaging was to do a lot of sensory projects (like dipping a string in paint and dragging it across the paper) or projects that could be abstract (coloring with a white oil pastel and painting on top). For this self portrait project, I think it could work with that age group if you gave them templates or pre cut shapes. My first graders are 6 and 7 so their fine motor skills are a little more advanced than a 3 year old. It could definitely still work though! I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions 🙂

  5. Pingback: First Grade Art Hands | Please Don't Eat the Artwork

Leave a Reply to dstrandberg2015 Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s