Please Don't Eat the Artwork



1st Grade Dinos (PBL Connection)

I have done many versions of this project over the past few years and the one things that remains the same is how amazing these always turn out. First graders created awesome cool/warm dinosaur landscapes once again this year!



I changed it up a bit again this year to incorporate weather. First grade students are currently participating in a Project Based Learning unit all about weather. I figured the dino landscapes would be a great place to tie in their classroom learning. They brainstormed many different forms of weather and created a cool dinosaur in a hot place or a hot dinosaur in a cool place. Some students need some more practice with sorting warm and cool colors but this is a great start!

Snowy dinosaurs:


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Stormy dinosaurs:

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Sunny dinosaurs:

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Tornado dinosaur:



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If the Dinosaurs Came Back

First graders contemplated what would happen if the dinosaurs came back for this awesome project. There are a few different versions of this project that I have seen and since my own dinosaur lesson for 1st grade really needed an update I figured I would give it the Ol’ College Go. (What does that even mean anyway? I didn’t try at all in college. So I guess I gave it the ol’ Post-College Go.)




We began by reading the adorable book If the Dinosaurs Came Back and noticing the contrast of the illustrations.


We sketched dinosaurs from looking at toy dinosaurs, paying careful attention to shapes and details. I was the Tracing Sheriff and arrested the ‘perps who tried to trace. It just turned into a blob, HA! Do your own work, draw those shapes! 


Then, first graders created a background and wrote a sentence about what would happen if the dinosaurs came back. They traced over their lines with sharpie.

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The next week, we chose one of our dino sketches to draw B I G on another piece of paper. Students could choose to make their dinosaur be warm or cool colors. They added color by painting water on top of tissue paper. These artists were so amazed to see the colors mix and bleed together! WHAT BLOOD?!?! Not real blood guys . . . c’mon, calm down. 


The last step was to cut out the dino and glue it to the background.  Students tried their very best to put together a comprehensible sentence which described their illustration. This ended up being a lot more challenging than one would think due to spelling and punctuation and capital letters and such but Firsties gave it the Ol’ Post-College Go. For your benefit dear reader I have translated the following works of art from First-Grade-Anese to English. Enjoy!


If the dinosaurs came back they would play with me on the playground. 


If the dinosaurs were alive they would help the city. 


If the dinosaurs came back they will help the circus. 

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If the dinosaurs came back people could give them makeup. 

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If the dinosaurs came back they could take swimmers on rides at the beach. 

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If the dinosaurs came back they would make great ski slopes. 


If the dinosaurs came back they would take children for rides. 

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If the dinosaurs came back they could go on a boat. 

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If the dinosaurs came back they would be a car. 


Other excellent answers included: they could do my laundry, they could cook my food for me, they could do my homework for me, and they could help me win at video games. My own personal answer: If the dinosaurs came back they would wash all the paintbrushes off for me at the end of the day. But since the dinosaurs are in fact not here I will just have to do it myself 🙂

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Dinosaur Fossils

Kindergarteners had a blast learning all about clay, dinosaurs, and fossils for this project. Check out the full process here. They loved using colorful mats to practice making texture:


Meanwhile, kinders in small groups stamped dinosaurs, shells, and bones to create their very own fossil.

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After they went through the kiln, the fossils were painted brown and sponged off to get a antiqued and dirty looking effect.


Then students used water colors to paint and tied a rainbow string to make a cool fossil necklace!


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Cool Dinosaurs in Hot Places (Take 2)

Last year’s version of this project was successful in teaching warm/cool colors but I thought the product looked kind of cheap. I am a big fan of layers and mixed media so projects that only feature one kind of medium tend to leave me feeling rather nonplussed. The more the merrier when it comes to art materials, especially with young kids who thrive when exploring tactile methods of creating.

SOoooo this year I wanted to change it up a bit. We still made dinosaurs (because DUH dinosaurs are awesome) but I wanted to expose my 1st graders to some more variety of art materials. We began this project by sketching. Students looked at toy dinosaurs (from teh dollar section at Target) and noticed that it is easy to draw something realistic if you break it down into simple shapes.010

Next time we met, we began by talking about warm and cool colors. We brainstormed things that are hot that are warm colors and things that are cold that are cool colors. Ideas mentioned included: ice cream, ice, water, the beach, grass, trees, a volcano,  wind, fire, ovens, the sun, springtime, hot potatoes (?) and snow.


Students chose a color scheme and used oil pastels to draw their design onto big paper. They included details like weather, a horizon line, and patterns. This project was a great STEM connection as the first graders are currently learning all about weather patterns and characteristics in science. The next step was to paint over the drawings with water color. They turned out fantastic!

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Kindergarten Fossils

What is a fossil? What is clay? How can you create texture? These are questions kindergarteners explored by making dinosaur fossils. Many of these guys had never touched clay except maybe play-doh and they thought it was pretty neat. We began by learning about dinosaurs and talking about the different ways you can work with clay: coil, pinch, slab. Then, students used “fake” clay and texture mats to investigate and play.

“Fake” Clay under a heat lamp:


Texture mats!


Students were inspired by dinosaurs, coils, and even the alphabet!


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Next, students used dinosaurs, bones, and shells to stamp impressions into the clay.



I used a straw to poke a hole through so we could make them into necklaces at the very end. After they were fired, the kids were amazed that they clay was hard like a rock and white instead of squishy and grey. Clay is so magical!

Students used brown tempera paint and sponged to “stain” the texture and really make the markings pop.

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Then it was time for watercolors which by now my kindergarteners are pros at. They made their fossils super colorful and loved mixing colors up and creating  rainbow artwork! They were all given a rainbow piece of yarn to make their fossil into a necklace.


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I will leave you with this excellent art joke: What is a cow’s favorite artwork? . . . . . the MOOna Lisa!


1st Grade Cool Dinosaurs in Hot Places

1st Graders have been working on Dinosaurs! We began by looking at landscapes and talking about HORIZON LINE (where the sky and ground meet). We looked a dinosaur books from the media center and plastic toy dinosaurs to see what kinds of shapes we can use to draw a dinosaur. 1st graders drew their designs in their sketchbooks that included a pattern, at least 2 plants, and they had to decide if it was night or day. (Next time around I will include precipitation to align with their science unit).


Next, we talked about WARM AND COOL COLORS and students had the option of coloring their dinosaur with either color scheme. The kids had fun with this project and really enjoyed making up stories about their dinos. One student even burst into song with a great rendition to “Walk the Dinosaur” (refer to this video:





With a bird and artist on its back while cooking an egg:



With a backwards cap:



An “AAB” pattern:



With a DJ, a microphone, some rappers, and a cake: