Sub Plans - Elementary Art - Bad Hair Day Art Project

Sub Plans - Elementary Art

See Middle School Sub Plans here


Art Portfolios from Susan on Long Island

Susan waits till NAEA Convention for her students to make their portfolios. You could pre-punch holes for the pipe cleaner handles - have students insert the Pipe Cleaners. - fold - then reinforce Pipe Cleaners. with colored tape (many art resource catalogs carry colored masking tape. and colored "wet and stick" art tape). From Susan: All my students make portfolios with the sub. It's an easy same lesson for all with limited supplies: 24x36 (61 x 91 cm) paper folded, Washable Markers., pipe cleaners for handles, staple sides. We save them until the end of the year. They put all their year's art work in it and take it home in June.


Monsters all Around from Tammi

An easy one I did in a pinch last week for kindergarten was to have them trace a circle (I have a zillion butter tub lids and they love to trace things to practice this skill) and then trace their hand as many times as it will fit around the circle- like spokes coming out from it. Then they used crayons and markers to turn it into a monster. I told the sub that when they started saying, "I'm done!" she can tell them to draw the monster's friends, favorite toys, and food it eats in the background. When I returned, I found the monsters unfinished because she had a big discussion about facial expressions and how you can make your monster scary, happy, etc. I had to put off my next lesson because they begged me to let them finish their monsters! They did a great job putting patterns and designs on them.


Beasties Galore from Judy Decker

Imaginary beasties would work with all grade levels. See Linda Wood's Mixed Breed Lesson for examples (these are finished major project by 5th grade. Select the drop-down menu on the lower right side of that page.). Of course, you would have different expectations for the younger students. My second graders had no trouble doing Eric Carle. style beasties one year - so I know they can handle it. Might want to simplify to basic shapes for first graders - but I think they could handle it too (my second graders actually worked on their Eric Carl beasties a day I was out - the sub handled it beautifully - and even made a great sample for me to keep. She was a gem!).


"Exquisite Beasties" - I have had students make beasties on a template where the body had to line up between two notches so we could cut them apart and make new animals. The head section of one - with the body of another - and the tail section of another. We made these one year to put in a book. It was my welcome fifth graders to the middle school lesson for that day (I had double the amount of students in my room - all of my sixth graders and all of their fifth grade shadows. I needed something that would work for all). See Exquisite Horse from Silver Buckle Press. (Note: "Exquisite Corpse" was a surreal parlor game).


Bad Hair Day by Michal Austin and Sky McClain


bad hair day pictureSee also the Bad Hair lessons on the middle school sub plans page.


I tried Bad Hair Day meets the Name Design Art work folder project (by Bunki Kramer) as a combo. My 6th graders did a head, then used their names to do the beginning of Bad Hair. They either did fat letters or cursive writing around the hairline (like a rainbow) or out from the hairline like rays of the sun. Inside of the letter forms they did Michal's bad hair day patterns. They LOVED seeing both projects by other kids on Michal's and Bunki's websites, and were having a great time trying it as a combo project using sharpie markers in 4 different widths. One girl remarked that she thought the project by Ali (from Princeton Community Middle School) was more a GOOD hair day *grin*. Then I got out the gel Metallic Markers. for finishing flourishes. They had just finished a value study on their posterized digital portraits and were having fun being a bit more creative. Have some more fun! Include meaning of names in the words (Behind the Name site by Mike Campbell. Mike does give art teachers permission to use his site with students)


Also see Bunki Kramer's Name Symmetry - Students as young as fourth grade can handle this lesson.

Earth layers - Patterns in nature by Judy Decker

Draw a cross section of the earth - making wavy lines to divide the different layers (maybe have some scientific illustrations handy). Dividing up into rows, putting a different pattern/texture in each row. This could be done with markers (fine point black marker for the lines and patterns. Could be colored with Colored Pencils.. or Crayons., too. Layers could show bones and roots, as well.

What's in a Crowd from Linda Wood

Have the kids draw a crowd of people in an unusual situation, like having a party in an elevator, for instance. Tell them you want them to draw everyone's face different, different ages of people, different clothes, different body positions, and you want their drawing to tell a visual story. Cartoon style is fine. Emphasize differences and overlapping, lots of details... keeps them busy, and they have fun. Let them work on them in pairs for even more enthusiasm.


A Day at Kings Island (or any Amusement Park) by Ann Heineman

Since amusement parks are starting up for the season, a crowd of people on those scary and spinning rides would be fun to visualize and draw, too.

Clowns Express Emotion from Amy

Grade 1: draw clown faces with Oil Pastels.... white face and add make up. She do these on black paper then "frame them by gluing them to a bigger piece of bright paper and then have the kids draw a border on that.

Alternating Color Design from Amy

Grade 2 and 3: draw circles on a paper, draw vertical lines on the paper (through the circles) use 2 different Colored Markers.... color the background (for example) pink and the circle (or the half circle) green in one stripe, color the background green and the circle pink in the next stripe. This is easy and clean and can be finished in about 40 minutes.


Susan Holland adds: The first time I saw this lesson with the circles and lines, I thought it sounded perfect and put it in my sub folder, but I have since found that it is not all that easy. It ends up taking my 4th graders two to three 45 minute classes. (so this one might be good when you are going to be out for more than one day)


Popsicle Stick Sculpture from Susan Holland

A sub lesson I like to leave for little guys K and 1 (after students are well versed in the procedure for it) is Plastilina Modeling Clay. with about 10 Popsicle sticks. for each students. The students try to build standing structures. Another good source for sub lessons is The lessons there are very thoroughly explained and many are one period lessons. See and


It's a Party from a Mouse's Eye View from Amy

Grade 4: Draw a party from a mouse's point of view... Draw all of the people feet only, with the legs and the rest of the body being so tall they come off the paper before they become anything more than legs. She uses this to teach vertical perspective (i.e. if the bottom of an object is higher than the bottom of something else, it is farther away). Extension: Have them draw their own shoes - A party that they would have. Exchange shoes and add their friend's shows to the fun.

Oaxacan inspired Alebrijes (Fantasy Animals) From: Brenda Robson

I showed a Crizmac video on Oaxacan Indians (Oaxacan Woodcarving: Innovation Meets Tradition) then had the kids draw an exaggerated animal of their own on black paper with Oil Pastels.. They liked that from K-8th! Great idea for Middle School, too. Construction Paper Crayons. would work too. (video available from Crizmac Art and Cultural Education Materials)

Amusement Parks - Marble Runs from Ellen Sears

Right now my 5th graders are creating marble runs - kinetic sculptures... they beg for it all year, and I save it for our testing cycle - strips of poster board, a demo on construction techniques (scoring, tape etc...) and they are off. (Note from Judy: A science teacher in my building had the students make marble runs with Popsicle sticks. - needed several hot Glue Gun. for this)


The younger students use paper strips to create a 3-D amusement park - same construction techniques - and then draw the model with people and surroundings -

"While You Were Out" from: Ellen Sears

I leave books to go with lessons - "While You Were Out" and pictures of Painted Ladies - then they draw their own house with the new color scheme - or any building... you could also have magazine pictures of structures that they can color over. More ideas: Mixed-Up Chameleon - Matthew's Dream.

Symmetrical Design from Betsy Larson

Symmetrical designs using markers and white napkins (gives four way design). Keep napkin folded and use markers to create design - unfold when done. Kids love it!. Idea came from Getty TeacherArtExchange list (now TeacherArtExchange)

Amy adds: This also works great with coffee filters.

Texture Rubbing Creatures From Sandy Bacon

I recently used a lesson found here on the list. See Linda Wood's lesson on Eric Carl animals. The children are given a topic or theme. I used a mythological/medieval creature. They used all kinds of different papers and texture rubbing plates (see Sax catalog pg. 406) to create an Eric Carle style creature. First read Eric Carle's Dragons, Dragons & Other Creatures that Never Were book. I had a sample done and the lesson went very well according to the sub. The kids really had a good time creating.


Hog Wild Metal Magnetic Sculptures from Linda Wood

Linda has many different learning centers to use as back-up plans. One is Hog Wild Metal Sculptures - the kids really go to town creating unusual creative pieces (think Picasso and other cubist sculptors). These are all temporary as after a few days, they are disassembled and put back into the boxes for others to use. Linda has purchased several sets and mixed them all into one center. See Hog Wild page for more information.


Plasticine Clay by Judy Decker

One idea that worked for me was to have Plastilina Modeling Clay. (one color per child only) in small butter dishes - one per child (you could use Baggies, instead I suppose). I had some simple tools available in cans - one for each table (just Popsicle sticks. and some simple wooden tools - nothing dangerous). I had torn out enough fabric backed wall paper samples for each student to use as a placemat. This was particularly helpful if I was going to be out during a ceramics lesson and didn't feel the substitute would be able to handle the students being at all different stages of completion in a project. This was an idea I got from Linda Lehman of Bath Elementary.


Create a Coloring Sheet - by Sky McClain

Another fun substitute plan is to have them draw a picture on Xerox paper using pencil only. It has to be just an outline because a few of the best ones will be chosen by me (on my return) to be Xeroxed and then they will be used as coloring sheets for all my other classes to color. I print their name clearly on the bottom so everyone can see who did it. I keep these coloring sheets in a box lid in the art room next to the cans of markers. They can be colored if the children finish their art project early. Sometimes I suggest a theme like dinosaurs or favorite cartoon characters or summertime fun. They must fill the page with lots of interesting things to be colored or else it won't be chosen.


Shapes and Things by Ellen Sears

I have left for grades 2-7. I left the book 'Shapes and Things.' by Tana Hoban - a book of photo grams along with a bucket of kitchen utensils.


Two assignments I have left are:

  1. Draw one object 5 times - 1 complete, and four coming onto or going off of the page

  2. Divide the paper into 6 unequal sections. Draw the silhouette in one section to fill... Abstract the object in each of the remaining sections by - multiplying, dividing, adding, subtracting, stretching...

They can use markers to add pattern in negative or positive, warm and cool, complementary...


Design a T-Shirt by Jean Womack

Jean has been substituting in the San Francisco area. One very professional art teacher I worked with gave the kids an outline of a T-shirt and asked them to design their own T-shirt. Then she had them add the pants and arms, legs, and head. That would be good for one or two days.


Castles Dragons and More by Jean Womack

Another great teacher was gone for a week. She left a very elaborate lesson plan where they were supposed to draw a castle, from a handout. Then add dragons, trees, etc, all from the handout. And draw lots of detail. She said they love castles. She drew one on the board that was awesome. Jean showed Cinderella or Snow White or one of those Disney movies that have castles in it (you might want to check with the school policy on showing Disney videos - maybe show a segment of the video). She told them that Disney people made a lot of money drawing castles. Jean also got old calendars with castles and put them up on the wall.


Rainbow Fish - idea by Michal Austin

This could work for grades K through 2. Read Rainbow Fish. Students draw large fish to fill 9 x 12 (23 x 30.5 cm) white Drawing Paper. - Make interesting patterns (could show Paul Klee print of The Golden Fish - and one of Fisherman), outline heavily with black Crayons.. Color in sections heavily with crayon. Use Prang Watercolor Pan Sets. wash in negative space (could wait and do watercolor when teacher returns). Add a Glitter Glue. accent to some scales.


Elmer Again - idea by Michal Austin

This could work for grades 1 to 2- (Archive) I Have sub read story. "Elmer Again." by David McKee - You could have a 1' gridded paper run off for the checkerboard. Students begin coloring the checker board the day you are off - finish when you return.


Design Money - from Sara Green (for elementary and middle school)

Copy dollar bills and distribute them to the tables. You could copy money from other countries if available. Discuss the design- center, border etc. Tell the students they are designing the new money for their new country. They name the country, they design the symbols and designs. You can cut 41/2 x 12 inch (11.4 x 30.5 cm) pieces of paper for the sub ahead of time.


In a pinch? Try ART a Facts™ Magazine Source for Art Lesson Plans and Teacher Resources for Art Education Elementary and Secondary Level. Five issues each year - Comes in set of 30 copies. Homeschool issue also available (consists of one copy of each of the five issues). From Judy: I would recommend you order a copy for elementary and secondary for yourself (see Homeschool price - it is worth it!). Lessons are different for each level... Secondary can be adapted for lower grades, too. There is not much difference in reading level. Font is smaller on Secondary copy so there is more in depth information - also good for you to have. Internet resources are given as well as books. You can easily write up a hands on exercise for student to do after they are finished reading and discussing the magazine. Reading level is probably grade 4 and up. Substitute could read to lower grades.


More Ideas: IAD's Free time activities

Be sure to scan the lesson plans on Incredible Art Department for more plans adaptable for a substitute.



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