we help adults teach art to kids

Torn Paper Zebras Art Lesson

second grade zebrasZebras 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!zebra

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.

After the stripes are added with white glue or glue sticks (I used both, so use whichever works for you best) it’s time to create the background.

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.


  1. Lovely results! I’m excited to see your new space…congratulations! My fifth graders did your giraffe pairing lesson the first few weeks of school and they are STUNNING! They have been one of the most talked-about projects ever for my kids. And they look great on the walls outside the art room.

    Lynna Kirkpatrick

    October 4, 2010

    • *painting, not pairing

      Lynna Kirkpatrick

      October 4, 2010

  2. Love the new look! I’ve been thinking of taking my blog over to WordPress. I’ve heard it is more complicated though. Did you think so?


    October 7, 2010

  3. Hello Patty !

    You never sound silly, just inspiring ! Love the new look and am very excited to try all your new ideas.
    I have to tell you, I have used several of your lessons so far this year with my Grade 2 class. The reaction has been quite amazing…..many parents could not believe that their child actually painted and created such beautiful works of art. The owls we made are quite stunning. Thanks for sharing, it has made such a difference for me !


    October 7, 2010

  4. ok, just realized how that sounded….. your lessons have inspired me AND made such a difference for my kids , they love art class so much and love hearing about the lady from California 🙂


    October 7, 2010

  5. Oh I just love the new site-and I really miss you! Hope all is well and please don’t forget about us at MV!

    Kathy Gallo

    October 7, 2010

    • Hi Kathy!
      Oh, I miss you guys too! Really. I think about the kids and all those fantastic PTA lunches! Hope all is well…let’s do coffee and catch up.


      October 8, 2010

  6. Congrats on your new site! I am a huge fan and will be promoting your site as a great tool at a provincial teacher’s conference in a couple of weeks.


    October 7, 2010

  7. Hi Patty,
    Congratulations on the new look – it’s really beautiful!! I wish you lots of success with the new site.

    Kathy Barbro

    October 10, 2010

  8. I love your new website. I am a new art teacher for students with emotional disabilities and I find your site to have absolutely exciting and motivating ideas. Your detailed instructionsin your lessons and booklets- (which, btw, I have purchased them all)- make teaching the classes simplified, structured and fun! I browse through your website all the time- you have inspired me beyond belief. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


    October 11, 2010

    • I’m so pleased this site has helped you. That’s my goal really…to make art class structured, simplified and fun! Pretty much my mission statement!


      October 11, 2010

  9. Your new look site looks fab! We love your activities and your detailed instructions.

    Amy Hannah

    October 12, 2010

  10. Looks great! Love the zebras! So adorable! With my jungle themed room, these would be great! Thanks!

    Cyndy Guerrettaz

    October 12, 2010

  11. I love zebras! These are great. Your new site looks very pro – well done! I like 🙂

    Anne Farrell

    October 14, 2010

  12. Your new site looks amazing! I’m so happy for you and love to be inspired by your endeavors!


    October 16, 2010

  13. Thanks so much for posting all of your ideas, you inspire me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sarah Gerlach

    October 20, 2010

  14. I love your website! Thanks so much for all the wonderful, creative ideas you post. Please realize that you are a tremendous help to those of us who are not “real” Art teachers–especially when you list the steps to the project. My kids have enjoyed every project inspired by your website. I intend to do this fun zebra project tomorrow with my second graders–they are going to love it!


    November 8, 2010

    • Thank you so much, Cara! That means alot. Comments like these really keep me inspired, so thanks!


      November 9, 2010

  15. This has been a life saver! We have 3 weeks of school left and have had terrible rainy weather for weeks. The children are basically going bonkers from all the indoor recess. The drawing part has forced them to settle down and pay close attention, and the tearing of the paper stripes has been active enough to keep them interested. This is definately a keeper project, the zebras are turning out great. thanks for your fabulous website!

    mary rogers

    May 26, 2011

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *