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Integrating Art and Creativity: Inspiring Back to School Projects

It’s back to school time, and of course, I am focused on getting to know the students, setting up the classroom, and communicating with parents. However, K-2 students need this time to express their creativity through art! Starting the year with inspiring back-to-school projects is so much fun! Here are a few of my favorite ideas.

Paper Plate Self-Portraits

Paper plates are one of my favorite tools for back-to-school projects! This back to school art project is a perfect way to have students explore their creativity while learning about self-expression.

First, give each student a paper plate and some art supplies. Pull out some crayons, washable markers, colored pencils, and construction paper. Next, instruct the students to look at themselves in a mirror and observe their facial features. {You can also use iPads or computers to take selfies!}

Then, encourage them to draw their eyes, nose, mouth, and other distinguishing features on the paper plate. They can also cut out construction paper shapes or use yarn for hair to glue on the paint. Finally, once the self-portraits are complete, display them in the classroom or create a bulletin board. This celebrates the uniqueness of each student. I love using student work to decorate the room, and this one can stay up for a long time!

An alternate way to use this back-to-school art project is to have students draw each other! This can be fun and silly, but it’s a great way to let students get to know one another. Once they draw their partner, have them introduce them to the class. 

Go check out this project over at Happy Toddler Playtime!

Watercolor Names

This super simple art project that makes a darling display…and gives you a chance to pull out beloved watercolors! Is it just me or are students always quiet when they use them?!

Simply give each student a piece of construction paper to write his/her name in giant letters. Next, they trace over the pencil in bright crayons and finally paint over their letters with watercolors. It’s such a fun bulletin board to welcome everyone into our classroom!

Our Classroom Rules Back to School Project

Of course, I have to get my students ready with setting expectations and routines. Why not make it into a creative back to school project?  First, provide a large piece of paper or poster board and art supplies such as markers, crayons, or colored pencils.

I love using oversized sticky notes for anchor charts or to brainstorm and butcher paper for projects like murals. Next, discuss and brainstorm the classroom rules together as a class, involving the students in the process. Then, assign student pairs or groups to a specific rule and ask them to illustrate it on the mural using the art supplies. They can draw pictures or write words that represent the rule in action or its importance. Finally, once all the rules are represented on the mural, display it prominently in the classroom as a visual reminder of the shared expectations and values.

Of course, if you want to have your rules ready to go, check out this post where I have a few freebies to use!

“A Day in the Life” Back to School Mini Book

Help your K-2 students understand and discuss the routines and activities that occur throughout a typical school day through the creation of a mini book. I love this activity to reinforce rules and classroom routines.

First, provide each student with a sheet of paper or a small booklet and drawing materials such as pencils, markers, or crayons. Next, guide the students in brainstorming and discussing the different parts of a school day, such as arrival, morning meeting, subject lessons, recess, lunchtime, and dismissal.

Have them create a page, where each page represents a different part of the school day. Encourage the students to draw and write about the activities that take place during that time – adding details and captions to their illustrations. Once the books are complete, have the students share and discuss their creations, allowing them to gain insights into their classmates’ experiences and perspectives.

If you want to help guide your students through the activity {and school day!}, check out these Visual Direction Cards.

Want to grab a free book? Enter your info below!

I’ve shared two options – blank pages with lines to write and prewritten sentences your students can simply trace over.

I love integrating art and creativity all year long but especially during back to school time! These inspiring back to school projects are perfect as students learn classroom routines and rules, introduce themselves, and build classroom community. What back to school art projects can you try in your classroom?

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