Inspiring children one color at a time

Penguin Art Project

By on Mar 4, 2009 in 2nd Grade Art Lessons, Animals, Art Lessons by Seasons, Birds, Winter Art | 7 comments

How to draw and paint a penguin and his Antarctica home

Penguins are a popular request in first and second grade. Students study Antarctica and are quite familiar with penguins and their habitat.

How to draw a penguin…

How to draw and paint a penguin. Art project for first and second grade
I begin the lesson by showing the kids how to draw a penguin. I place many pictures of penguins on the white board so the children can add their own details. As I give the demonstration, I offer plenty of “options” so that each painting will be uniquely theirs.


  • Starting with a black oil pastel, draw one large oval for the body and one small circle for the head.
  • Connect these shapes with two graceful lines (neck). When I demonstrate this step, I show how you can place the small circle (head) off to the side, so that when you connect the body with the head, it will look like the penguin is craning his neck.
  • Once the head and body are created, it’s very simple then to add wings, claws and perhaps an egg.
  • Demonstrate various wing placements so that the children can decide what they want their penguin to look like.


Next, we draw an iceberg or an ice shelf in the background. To do this, we draw the horizon line first. I give the option to draw half an iceberg or one that extends all the way across the paper. Some children will draw a hole in the ice and if they do, I show them how to make the ice look like it has shape. To do this, draw another “ring” around the hole and draw vertical lines connecting  both rings.


How to draw and paint a penguin. Art project for first and second grade

Despite wanting to dip into the black paint first and begin painting the penguins, I tell the children that it helps to paint the sky first. This way, the messy black paint won’t muddy up the beautiful sky or the crystal blue ice. Using orange, yellow, white and light blue liquid tempera paint, I show the children how double-loading the paintbrush can create a pretty amazing sunset.

Double-loading technique…

Dip paintbrush into one color, then again into another. Apply both colors to the paper.

When the painting is dry, use the black oil pastel to trace over all black lines.

How to draw and paint a penguin. Art project for first and second grade

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  1. I love your site. I teach after school art and used your penguin idea and changed it a little. thanks so much. Oh I blogged about it today with pictures too.

    Pamela Holderman

    January 25, 2010

  2. I love these art ideas. We do not have an art teacher in our school, so I have to come up with the art projects. Thank you so much for all the wonderful ideas. I can’t wait to use this penguin in the classroom next week.


    January 23, 2011

  3. I have a student that has left us for ANTARCTICA! We’re going to embark on a mini study of Antarctica tomorrow and to kick it off? You bet…PENGUINS!


    January 2, 2012

  4. I just wanted to let you know that my daughter and I had so much fun making your penguin paintings together. My daughter’s turned out so adorable and I love the creative flair she added to it. Here is a link to the post where you can see her painting as well as where I mentioned your wonderful website:
    Thanks for all of your inspirational art activities that you so generously share with us! I just think that your website is fabulous!
    Take care!


    February 1, 2012

  5. I really appreciate all the lessons you have developed…If I was little I would so love your class.

    Toni New

    January 2, 2014

  6. I am going to be starting on this project, using black oil pastels and tempera paint on water color paper. Any recommendations regarding my choices? Thank you!

    Estee Cohen

    December 8, 2010

  7. I wouldn’t waste watercolor paper with tempera paints. Just regular paper is fine. Have fun!


    December 8, 2010


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