Gunslingers & Outlaws Art Project




Kids draw and paint their own cowboy or cowgirl and create a WANTED poster.

I introduced this Gunslingers & Outlaws lesson way back in 2010 and it instantly became a favorite of classroom teachers. I created the lesson after experimenting with ways to teach my 6th graders how to draw hats. I had a cowboy book on my bookshelf so I pulled it out.

The lesson morphed into an Old West WANTED poster and for many teachers, the opportunity to add narrative. Since I published 3-Ingredient Art Grade 5 & 6, many teachers have told me they use this lesson as an activity for 4th grade Gold Rush days. Brilliant, right?

Kids draw and paint their own cowboy or cowgirl and create a WANTED poster.

I used both white sulphite paper like the PDF Lesson plan and brown sulphite paper. I was interested in eliminating the spray bottle step and create an aged poster without the dappling. I must say that drawing on the white paper using a pencil then tracing with a black marker was less time consuming than the original instructions. The students used one, 50-minute class session to draw their cowboy/cowgirl/outlaws and start tracing with pen. Many got to the stage where they could rip the edges of the white paper.

I used the handout that is in the lesson plan because it works great.

For the kids who drew on the brown paper, the steps were just a wee bit different. First they drew with a pencil, then they painted with liquid tempera paints. Once the paint dried, they traced over the original lines with a black marker.

After using colored pencil and chalk pastels on the white paper and pen and paint on the brown paper, the kids tore the edges and glued the portrait to a green or burgundy colored paper.

I didn’t teach the lettering to my two classes because we had less time. This is what I did instead: photocopy the WANTED text from the lesson plan onto cream colored copy paper. I lightened the ink so that only a trace amount was shown. The kids used markers to trace over the wording. Some students colored in the text and others added on to it. I was a bit concerned at first that I was cheating and not offering the students a creative lettering experience, but the results felt very original. Every child was able to create his own version of the WANTED text.

We used the bottom part of the WANTED copy paper to add a description or a story to our poster.

Here are a few outlaws from my fifth grade class:

Kids draw and paint their own cowboy or cowgirl and create a WANTED poster.



What do you think?

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  • Peggy J Maa

    Hello. CAn I purchase this lesson without being in the Member’s Club?

  • Alice

    Amazing work! Really cool artwork! Your, fifth graders, are really talented! Keep up the great work!

  • Jessica Black

    The link to the plan or PDF is not on this page… where can I find it?

    • Patty

      Hi Jessica,
      This is a lesson inspiration with general instructions. The full lesson with standards and full instructions are for members of our Sparklers Club. If you are a Sparkler, the lesson is inside The Sparklers Club website inside the Fantasy Bundle.

  • Milena

    Very nice, very talented students!!!

  • Patty

    Great idea with my history studies

  • Rachael

    I’m definitely page-marking this one for next term when we study Louis Sachar’s Holes. This will fit in perfectly!!! Thank you!

  • Pamela Solomon

    Cool lesson. Could you please send me the PDF?
    Thank you!

    • Bethany

      Hi Pamela! This lesson is only available inside The Sparklers’ Club Membership. The Sparklers’ Club is an affordable and flexible pay as you go monthly membership—perfect for anyone who teaches art to students aged K-7. To join the Sparklers’ Club waitlist and learn more about The Sparklers’ Club click here: https://deepspacesparkle.lpages.co/the-sparklers-club-waitlist/

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