Underwater Hippo Art Lesson

Who doesn’t love hippos? Aren’t they the strangest creature? My second and third grade students agree and we discussed the anatomy of the hippo as we drew their robust bodies. Using a basic oil pastel and watercolor resist, the children turned their drawings into an underwater collage.

This lesson was inspired by the lovely illustrator, Melanie Mikecz. Her Underwater Hippo Print is just one in a collection of adorable and totally inspiring art pieces. 

To start, the children drew a hippo onto a piece of 12″ x 18″ white paper with an oil pastel. After drawing the body, the students drew a water line through the middle of the hippo’s head just below the eyes. Everything above this line was considered the sky and below; the murky water. I provided liquid watercolors so the children could run their brushes over the entire drawing. For a final flourish, children used foam 3-D dots to add fish and birds and tissue paper for watergrass.

Lots of techniques in this lesson: directed line drawing, watercolor resist, oil pastel rendering, composition and collage. Whew!

Second and Third grade Hippos….

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  1. michelle says:

    just have to say I LOVE hippos so I am planning on trying this one out this year!

  2. Mary says:

    I had Ms. Mikecz’s hippo piece pinned and on the back burner for a future art project. Just Love your lesson! I really like the multi-media aspect of these hippo pieces.

  3. J. Cooper says:

    There’s a great kid’s book called, “The Hiccupotamus” by Aaron Zenz that would go along with this lesson nicely. You can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Hiccupotamus-Aaron-Zenz/dp/1594450331

  4. Jana says:

    I LOVE this mostly because I have never seen an art project with HIPPOS! It’s great!!

  5. Amanda Elton says:

    What a fun project Patty! I’m teaching it in second grade tomorrow. Thanks!!

  6. I had a brilliant idea for these! I am going to have them do the hippos per your instructions, then I am going to tint my clear acrylic glaze with a little blue and green, then have them glaze from the water line down. Great study in contrasting textures! Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. Mrs Red says:

    Hi Patti, just letting you know I am running with your fat hippo lesson plan this Saturday in my kids classes. I always put my spin on it and kids pictures will be posted on my business facebook page at some stage. A great idea with great looking results :)

  8. Rebecca says:

    Just did this lesson for the second time in two years with my year twos, they love it and it fits perfectly with our wild animal theme!

  9. […] hippos, two pages about endangered species, and four about the animals of the African Plains. Underwater Hippo Art Lesson. This site Deep Space Sparkle has tons of art lesson […]

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About Patty

I teach art to 400 school children in Goleta, California. My art library contains hundreds of free art lesson ideas. My shop has art lesson plans, videos and resources to help you teach art to kids. It's a whole lot easier with Deep Space Sparkle.

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