There’s something about watching the mix of the colorful, larger-than-life balloons traveling high above the streets of New York City paired with the sounds of marching bands that make the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions.
I watch it in between prepping the turkey and baking pies on the big day and the background is always a seasonal trigger for me. I’m probably not alone as it is an event that has been intertwined in American Thanksgiving celebrations for nearly 100 years.
Along with recognizable characters from movies and television, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has also featured balloons inspired by artists including a Yayoi Kusama sun, a Keith Haring figure and a Jeff Koons rabbit.
This lesson puts a fun twist on the traditional balloons, with a sleek, shiny, balloon inspired by Jeff Koons’ signature style. Featuring simple techniques and supplies, this lesson is perfect for students from second grade and up.
Download this handy drawing guide before you get started.
THIS IS WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
– 9″ x 12″ white sulphite paper
– 9″ x 12″ colored sulphite paper (light colors are best)
– Small scrap of white paper
– Colored markers
– White oil pastel
– Pan watercolor
– Posca paint pens or chalk markers (construction paper crayons would work, too)
– Scissors & glue
DRAWING THE BUILDINGS
Turn the paper horizontal. Use a Sharpie to draw several large buildings that fill the entire paper from left to right. It’s okay if they are different heights.
Add windows and doors, but don’t add any other details just yet.
Paint the buildings and background with watercolor paint.
While the paint dries, start creating the balloon dog.
DRAWING THE BALLOON DOG
Use a Sharpie to draw the separate pieces of the balloon dogs on a light colored piece of paper. You should have a body, head, two legs, two ears and a tail. Don’t forget to download the drawing guide for a visual reference.
Use a white oil pastel to make a curved highlight on one side of each piece. For pieces that are horizontal, like the body and head, the highlight will be on top. For pieces that are vertical, like the legs, ears and tail, the highlights will be on the right side.
Use a marker in a darker shade than your paper to make the shadow. For the head and body, the shadow will be on the bottom, For the legs, eats and tail, the shadow will be on the left side.
The highlights and shadows are what helps give the dog the rounded three-dimensional appearance.
ASSEMBLING THE BALLOON DOG
Cut out all pieces, leaving the black outline intact. Glue the pieces together to make the balloon dog.
Cut two eyes from the scrap of white paper and glue onto the face. Outline and add pupils with the Sharpie. Draw a nose and mouth. Add a white oil pastel highlight to the tip of the nose.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Use Posca paint pens or chalk markers to add details to the buildings, including; window panes, awnings and decorative architectural details.
Glue the balloon dog to the background. Make sure it’s floating nice and high above the street.
Use the Sharpie to add a few lines that extend from the dog’s feet to the bottom of the paper. These are the ropes that handlers use to navigate the balloon through the streets.
Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet us a perfect companion to this lesson, which tells the real life story of Tony Sarg, the puppeteer who developed the first Macy’s parade balloon.
Want more in-depth lessons with accompanying standards and assessments for similar projects? The Sparklers’ Club has thousands of fully standardized lesson plans to make curriculum planning effortless. Join the waitlist for the Sparklers Club.
This lesson was created and written by one of our lesson developers, Heather Sparks!
I used to use this book in my RAW ART (Reading And Writing with ART) classes when I taught k-6. I Love this piece so much!!!! Thanks for sharing! Now I need to think how to up it for my junior high artist. We may do it using drawing in 2 point perspective for the buildings…. my mind is racing.
Thank you so much- what an amazing project-
What a beautiful and wonderful way to teach about Koons and a beloved tradition! Thank you Patty for all that you do to make our lives as teachers magical! You truly are Oz!!!
Love it because it relates to the bubble method of drawing figures or animals or lettering.
Hi I am interested with your teaching material is nice and simple. However, may i know what is the suitable art lessons for the children from age 6 to 9 years old
I did this lesson with my first graders (6 & 7 year olds) and they did a fabulous job. I started by doing the project as a directed drawing and made sure everyone had the buildings the correct size. The only thing I would do differently next time is to make sure they know about how many windows should fit in each building. Some wanted to draw the windows super small and fill the whole building with windows. Since they started out with pencil it was easy for them to erase. I was afraid the pencil marks would show through anyway, but they did not. I too was shocked by how many have never seen the parade.
My students are having a blast with this one! I was shocked that most of my students had never seen the parade! So, along with the book and lesson I had to also show them clips of the parade. Needless to say they will all be nagging their parents to watch on Thanksgiving morning!
This year will be the year I finally nail the turkey. Let’s just say my family has been less than pleased the last few years. For some reason I just can’t get the bird to turn out moist and soft. This year is gonna be the one!
It is a truly engaging project. Thank you.
Thank you for this lesson! What a fun way for them to learn about the parade and a modern-day artist!
Love this one, and cant’ wait to do it tomorrow! Thank you!!