Chengdu: Panda Bear Art Project

Chengdu Art Lesson

I received this book in the mail a few months ago and as soon as I opened up the package and saw sleepy Chengdu, I knew my first graders would love him.
Chengdu Could Not, Would Not, Fall Asleep by Barney Saltzberg tells the story of how little Chengdu couldn’t fall asleep no matter how hard he tried. The illustrations are simple and created with a limited color palette of black, white and greens.

Although I read this book and created the art lessons for my first graders, it might be a better project for second grade kids. Quite honestly, I was pretty impressed with my first graders and their ability to stay focused on such detailed chalk work.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 12″ x 18″ black sulphite paper
  • white, black and green chalk
  • goggly eyes
  • white school glue
  • Aerosol hair spray



With a white piece of chalk, draw a circle for the head, two ears, a round hump for a back, and one arm that extends downward and a back leg. Next, place chalk at edge of paper and draw a line that goes under Chengdu’s head, under the arm and off to the side. This is the top of the branch. Draw another line for the bottom of the branch. Draw two paws that peek up from under the bottom part of the log.



Color Chengdu’s face and body with white chalk. Then, color the arms, paws, ears and patches for eyes with black chalk. Super messy so get out your baby wipes. Don’t add any eyes as we will glue some goggly eyes on top of the black patches, just like this..

.Chengdu Art Lesson


Once everything is in place, outline Chengdu again with white or black chalk. Color the top part of the log white and the bottom part of the log black. The middle can be without color. Using just ONE finger, carefully blend the top and bottom parts of the log with just one swipe of the finger.


You can watch this video to see how one little girl managed her 3-D effect:

[prima_vimeo id=”97838205″ width=”700″ height=”386″]


Even though Chengdu might look a bit fuzzy at this point, grab a few different colors of green chalk and draw lots of foliage. Don’t be afraid to draw right over the log or even Chengdu. That’s the beauty of chalk; it goes over everything!  You can add a moon, Chengdu’s brother or anything else you would like.

ADDING-FOLIAGE for Chengdu Art Lesson

Cutest Panda Bears ever!

chengdu gallery

Find more fun animal lessons inside the Members Club!


What do you think?

Your email address will not be published.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


  • mail@artintheschool.org

    What an adorable project! I’m going to share this with our after school art teachers. Love your ideas, Patty!

  • Karen

    I love combining art and literature! Thank you for sharing all of these wonderful lessons. I am curious about the aerosol hair spray that is noted as a supply and it’s use. It was not mentioned in any of the steps. I am thinking it is used at the end to set the chalk? I will be heading to our library today for this book….thanks so much Mrs. Patty!

    • Patty Palmer

      Hi Karen,
      Ooops! I use the hair spray to set the chalk. It keeps it from smearing. You’ll love the book. Very cute.

  • Suzanne Elmer

    Hi Patty, which hair spray have you found to be the most effective for sealing chalk drawings? I have tried a number of them and the chalk still smears. Btw the panda is adorable!

    • Patty Palmer

      Any cheap aerosol hairspray works well but you might need to lower your expectations. No spray will prevent smears completely. Chalk is by nature a non-permanent material.

  • slhaberberger@yahoo.com

    I am having trouble finding black chalk. Michael’s had white school chalk and sidewalk chalk. The boxes of sidewalk chalk have a “black”, which I used for my sample project, but it is more gray and hardly shows up against the black paper. It doesn’t have the same POP without true black. Any suggestions?

    Thank you!!

    • Patty Palmer

      Buy a pack of chalk art pastels from Michaels or even Staples. Koss is a fairly available brand. Don’t buy sidewalk chalk. Look in the art aisle and not the kids crafts or activity aisles.

  • Cindi Rehonic

    Love this lesson and the first day we used the 12×18 paper. I decided to try the project using smaller
    9 x 12 to see if i could cut done on paper material. However, students started out great but by the end of the lesson their pandas were much messier than on the larger paper and actually were turning into gray pandas. I just wanted to ask you if this was the reason you chose the larger paper to begin with or have you had a similar experience with doing chalk on a smaller scale. I am going back to the larger size paper for this project. Thanks !

    • Patty Palmer

      Such a great question. Paying attention to paper size and medium really makes a difference with art projects. For this lesson a large panda is important because little hands need lots of space with chalk. So that’s why the large paper.
      Smaller papers and chalk are better for older kids who have more control.
      Another option for this lesson-and one I still want to try–is to use thick white tempera paint to draw/paint the panda. Then the chalk can go on the outside once the paint dries.
      Hope this helps!

  • Danyelle

    Hi! Very nice results! Help me , when I use areosol my colors always fade and some of the works look undone.

Follow Us

In stores 8/21


The {lesson_title} Lesson is Locked inside of the {bundle_title}

Unlocking this lesson will give you access to the entire bundle and use {points} of your available unlocks.

Are you sure?

No Yes

The {bundle_title} is Locked

Accessing this bundle will use {points} of your available unlocks.

Are you sure?

No Yes



The {lesson_title} Lesson is Locked inside of the {bundle_title}

To unlock this lesson, close this box, then click on the “lock” icon.