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Mexican Unit: Chalk Adobe

Want a quick, easy project where every student is successful? This is it! The best part about teaching art is seeing how my students respond to a new lesson. I’m not a scientist, but boy, it sure is interesting to see if my expectations line up with reality. This lesson exceeded it. Continuing with my Mexican unit, fifth graders drew adobes with colored chalk and oil pastels.


So here’s what we did:

Take a 12″ x 18″ black sheet of paper and fold in half. This is my way of protecting the artwork from the chalk. Using a black oil pastel, draw adobe shapes.

Using the handout (provided!) children drew adobes starting at the bottom of the paper and moving upwards. I encouraged simple shapes. Fill in with adobe colored chalk pastel. Talk about contrasts: brown adobe with a bright teal door, etc.

Define lines by using the black oil pastel to trace over all original lines. This step really makes the colors pop, so don’t skip over it!

When the picture is complete, fold the black paper over the artwork. This keeps the chalk from smearing during storage. When the time comes to display the artwork, cut off the extra paper.

Fifth Grade Efforts:


Click to Download Free Handout: Adobe Drawing Aid



  1. These are stunning! My third graders are currently working on various Hispanic art projects, so this is very helpful.

    Denise Pannell

    February 25, 2011

  2. Great project! Using black oilpastel seems a good alternative for drawing with glue. Glue always has to dry some time, and I often don’t have that time with my classes (one hour in five weeks for every grade).


    February 26, 2011

    • I found glue works best for older kids and even then, I use it only occasionally as a novelty.


      March 1, 2011

      • Hi, I am planning to do this with my students, how do you use the glue?


        July 9, 2015

        • Instead of using black oil pastel to draw, you can use white school glue. Draw with the glue, then allow it to dry (overnight). The glue will dry clear, revealing the black paper underneath.
          Have fun!

          Patty Palmer

          July 9, 2015

  3. Patty, please help, I need to order some supplies for my art class. You have mentioned class packs of pastels both oil and chalk. Can you please be specific, which brand do you use?I looked on your supply list but you don’t have specific brands listed. I Have bought individual boxed sets, but it seems certain colors are always used up.
    Which brands do you like?
    I bought something called Crayola drawing chalk and it is terrible, it is hard and almost has a wax coating on it and doesn’t work well.
    If you use a class pack, how do you distribute them? With individual boxes I can place them at each place setting, but it would be nice to have extras of certain colors that are used more often like black and blue and yellow. Is there a certain brand that lets you buy individual colors?
    Thank you so much,


    March 17, 2011

    • Oh.. and one more question…I need to buy a drying rack for our school. I need something that can dry and separate classes. At this point, I am drying projects on the floor, desks, and anywhere I can find space. I have over 500 students in a month, three classes a day, usually made up of 20-35 kids per class.
      It’s a disaster in my class, trying to manipulate everyone’s projects and then make room for the next class coming in.
      The PTA has offered me some money to buy supplies but I would rather use it on a couple drying racks.
      Any recommendations? and where do you buy your racks from?
      Thanks, Robin


      March 17, 2011

      • Hi Robin,
        At my old school, I used an old bakers rack that someone had found on the curb. Nothing beats free! For my new school, I purchased the most inexpensive racks from Nasco. They have a good selection, with varying price ranges and styles. You’ll need to do this type of investigative work yourself, to see what works and how much you can afford. If you can afford it, the styles that use hinges so that you can lift your trays ( to slide in the artwork) works best. I have one of these.


        March 17, 2011

        • Thanks , love the free Baker’s rack! Whoo hoo! I won’t be scoring any of those in the near future but
          I will check out the Nasco website. I will look for the hinged kind as well, I didn’t even know there were two different kinds. Thanks for the info on chalk pastels too. I mentioned I bought a very hard kind by Crayola and I usually love their products. So I just knew you would steer me in the right direction. I will check out those at the Nasco or Sax website as well.


          March 18, 2011

    • Hi Robin,
      I’m not very brand loyal. I usually buy the cheapest of anything. I’ve used so many different types of chalk pastels, that I can’t really remember what I’ve used. I only purchasew art supplies from Nasco and Saxs so whatever chalk pastels they stock, you can feel relatively confident that they will be good enough for an elementary setting. Last time, I purchased a class pack that arrive with one color per tray. I take some time to divvy up the trays, making sure that each tray has every color. Time consuming, yes, but it has worked for me. Peruse the catalogs. I’m sure you will find a school grade quality chalk pastel that meets your budget.


      March 17, 2011

  4. Thank you for this lesson plan idea. We did this yesterday and they are STUNNING!! It was a nice transition from all the painting we have been doing, on a cart!!

    Amy Floyd

    March 24, 2011

  5. yes these are stunning. Just finished these with grade 4 after they studied Native American dwellings. Try dipping the chalk in water as you color, it goes on smoother with less dust.


    April 27, 2011

  6. Thanks for the great lesson! I just finished up doing it in my classroom and posted some photos. This is a wonderful website, I just purchased the clay projects PDF! Check out this link if you would like to see my 4th grades Adobe Buildings. http://msdahlgren.weebly.com/4th-grade-artists.html


    May 10, 2011

  7. I just want to say you have been a lifesaver for me this year! This is my first year teaching art at a private Catholic school, grades K-8. I had no teaching training, just a person sort of chalk full of love (and a little natural talent) for art. My students are always saying how they love “my lessons” and I try to give you credit, not that they’ll remember the specifics.
    Anyway, thanks for all the great resources, I don’t think I could be doing this job without you ( and a couple of your web colleagues.)!!


    January 11, 2012

    • Thanks so much Eleanore! That means so much to me and pretty much the reason why I have this blog!


      January 11, 2012

  8. I loved this project idea, for my 4th & 5th graders. Is it too late download the Adobe Drawing Aid PDF? I noticed it had a slash trough it..


    March 14, 2012

    • Oh, I didn’t notice the link was broken. I’ll fix that. Sorry!!!


      March 14, 2012

      • I am dying to see the PDF, but it does not open-HELP!

        Toni Battle

        September 13, 2012

  9. This project turned out beautifully for my 5th graders! Thanks! The kids loved it and they all decided to make their skies the same color so it looked like a village street. We didn’t use your tutorial, just your idea. We found pictures of adobe houses online and drew them. I’ll link this on my blog. Thanks for the great idea!


    March 22, 2012

  10. Love this lesson. I would like to tie it in with Georgia O’Keefe and her painting of Ranchos Church.


    October 29, 2013

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