Zebras make a great subject for art lessons. Like giraffes, their graphic markings allow even the most modest of drawings look just right. I snapped a photo of a zebra exhibit at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History and an art lesson idea was ignited!
My second grade class loved making these torn paper zebras. I have to say, watching these sweet kids draw zebras was pretty darn cute; tongues stuck out the sides of their mouths (the kids, not the zebras), foreheads creased with concentration, and joy when the zebra was completed.
Here’s what we did:
On a sheet of white sulphite paper, we drew a zebra with black oil pastel. I use this medium alot when drawing larger pictures because it forces just that: larger drawings. Using a pencil encourages small, detailed drawings and that wouldn’t work for this type of project.
The Drawing: To make it easier for the kids, we start by drawing a dot for the eye and placing it near the top corner of the paper. Then, draw a short vertical line in front of the eye (nose). Place oil pastel on top of the line and draw a straight horizontal line for the top of the head. Put oil pastel on bottom of vertical line and draw a curved line for the jaw. Almost there! From the bottom of the jaw, draw a straight line down to the bottom of the paper (legs!). Draw a long neck, a back and then a back leg. Getting confused? Don’t worry. This drawing is designed to be boxy and simple. In many cases it won’t even look like a zebra until the stripes get added. Now finish off the drawing by completing the legs (stress skinny rectangles!), add a tail and a mane.
Have them chose between 2 or 3 colors of construction paper. Glue Zebra onto paper and use colored paper scraps to make grass, trees, and/or a sun. You might have to encourage some kids with questions about where zebras live, what do they eat, if it is a sunny day or a cloudy one…that sort of thing. I found that once the zebra found it’s home on the paper, a few kids were done. A little proding generally stirs up their creativity.
Now sit back and enjoy watching your little artists create.
Second Grade Torn Paper Zebras!
National Art Standards:
Understand repetition and balance in nature, environment and works of art
Identify the elements of art in nature, the environment and works of art focusing on line, color, shape/form, texture and space
Demonstrate beginning skills in basic tools and art-making processes.