The Ultimate Dr. Seuss NO PREP Art Activity!
This is seriously my favorite art activity ever! The kids love it and the best thing about it is that you only need 3 things! Yes, you heard that right. YOU ONLY NEED 3 THINGS! As a teacher, I know how valuable it is to find art activities that are easy and cost-effective.
I’ve used this activity for self-portraits, Mother’s Day and, of course, Dr. Seuss’ Birthday! You really can’t go wrong! The kids love it and I’m always amazed at how focused they are.
This quick and easy art project will keep your students active and engaged. I promise you will have fun too as you model how to create a Dr. Seuss-like character.
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First, you will need to gather your supplies…
You will need:
Next, you will need some Dr. Seuss Books
I really like to use Dr. Seuss’ “There’s a Wocket in my Pocket” because it has great illustrations of many different characters. If you want, you can find some of your favorite illustrations and have them bookmarked for the day you plan to teach the lesson. I like to show my students lots of examples of Dr. Seuss’ interesting characters.
Meet at the Carpet
After reading several books over the course of a couple days, have students meet you at the carpet for a quick conversation about Dr. Seuss’ unique characters. With chart paper ready, look back through some of the illustrations and talk specifically about the attributes of the different characters that you are noticing.
At the top of your chart paper write “Dr. Seuss Character Attributes”. Talk to students about what an attribute is if you haven’t already discussed this word. Ask them to share some things they are noticing about Dr. Seuss’ illustrations (long arms, long bodies, furry, lots of vibrant colors, etc…)
Start by modeling with one image. You could say, “I’m noticing that this character looks furry. Let’s add ‘furry’ to our list of attributes.” Feel free to bookmark a couple of your favorite illustrations, but this is not necessary.
Here are some things we talk about:
- Eyes- wide open eyes, small pupils
- Eyes- closed, look like macaroni noodles
- Mouths-thin lines
- Ears- none, short, long and furry looking like a dog
- Necks- some are very long
- Body Sizes- big, medium, small, tiny
- Body Texture- furry arms, legs, and tummy, some with feathers, fluffy tufts of fur (on faces, around necks, etc.)
- Toes- long furry toes, some with puff balls on the ends
- Antlers- curvey colorful
- Tails-short, long and very long
- lots of vibrant colors
The list could go on and on, but you get the idea. Try to help them to be specific because this will help them when they go to work on their own draft. Leave the list of attributes up while students are working and have them refer back to it if they need ideas.
Send each student back to their desk with a piece of plain printer paper–Don’t use your cardstock yet! This will be for when they do their final character.
Refer back to your list of attributes and have students practice each body part. You can walk around with a book or display some of the illustrations under a document camera.
You can start by modeling a couple examples for your students. I like to think out loud while I’m drawing so that my students understand what I’m doing. “This character has a lot of hair with some swoops and long pieces. I’m going to try that!”
After you have practiced several different attributes, have students flip their paper over. Now they are ready to practice a whole character. Tell them to think about the attributes they practice and let them know you are going to start by showing them how to do this first.
- Model drawing a character in pencil first. (draw lightly, because you will erase your lines later)
- Think out loud just like you did when you modeled each body part
- Talk about where your character is and how this will affect the name.
- I drew a “blarpet and the carpet”
After students have had sufficient time to practice, hand out the cardstock. Have them use a pencil and encourage them to draw lightly because they will erase their pencil lines later. (They will go over with sharpie after they show you their drawing)
When students have finished drawing in pencil, model how to trace their lines with a Sharpie. I like to see their drawings before I hand them a permanent marker so I have them check in with me before this step. I also like to remind them to outline their character– OUTLINE ONLY!
Once they are done tracing their drawing with a Sharpie have them erase any visible pencil marks. Now they are ready for the fun part! Get out the WATERCOLORS!
I know this may give some of your a heart attack, but I’ve done this activity with Kindergarteners and 1st graders and they both did surprisingly well with minor spills.
I like to model this first. As I do this, I encourage my students to use a lot of water and a little bit of paint. You will want to show them what this looks like, by dipping your brush into the water and then getting just a little bit of paint. I love using Sharpies because when you add water they won’t streak or smudge! (If you don’t have sharpies and plan to use a different permanent market I would advise you to test it ahead of time)
Name Your Character!
Don’t forget to give your character a silly name and add your rhyming phrase. You can refer back to the books for some inspiration!
Now, look at their amazing Dr. Seuss masterpieces!
You can hang them in the hall, laminate them or just send them home! It’s up to you! This is one of the easiest art projects you will do and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Once your students understand the process, you can do it again for another purpose.
When I taught 1st grade I had my students use this technique to illustrate portraits of their moms for Mother’s Day. Each portrait turned out so amazingly unique! I was so pleased with the way they turned out and my students loved their secret assignment to carefully observe their mom’s attributes!
I hope you find this activity as fun as I did!
What is your favorite easy art project?
Be sure to check out my Free TPT Dr. Seuss “There’s a _____________ in my Classroom.”