How to draw and paint a jellyfish and create the prettiest paintings ever!

Jellyfish Art project




One of the prettiest projects my third graders created this year happened during the very last days of school. 

I get rather desperate for ideas and organization towards the end of the school year so I had to scramble for a fast, two session project.

I came across a jellyfish painting on my Watercolor Pinterest Board and it was love at first sight. 😍

My third graders LOVED this jellyfish art project. And I did too.

I had all the supplies on hand (just barely) and stretched this relatively quick lesson into a 2-session project.

Jellyfish art project for boys and girls. Super easy drawing & painting project from Deep Space Sparkle

Here’s What We Did:

1.) Each child painted a 12″ x 18″ piece of white paper (I like Tru-Ray drawing paper) with either a gradient of blue or red paint.

I was a bit of a control freak here as I wanted to make the prep easy. I squeezed white, red, purple and black paint into 3 muffin-style palettes and blue, white, purple and black into two muffin-style palettes.

Depending on where the child sat, he would either create blue or red gradient paper. That’s right. No choice. Feel free to allow a child to choose though. I did this as a matter of simplicity and quite frankly,  laziness. I’m not ashamed.

Starting at the top of the vertical paper, the kids painted a strip of white paint. Without cleaning their brush, they dipped their paint brush into a little bit of red paint.

They applied the paint below the white strip and blended. They continued on, dipping their brush into more red, then adding purple (this gives the paint the bright pink/fuchsia color and then finally black.

We worked slowly and carefully with this step. I wanted it to last the entire 40-minutes.

2.) After the child finished painting his gradient, they added white paint for bubbles.

To do this, give each table group some white paint that has been watered down some. In order to splatter well, the paint needs to be the consistency of cream.

3.) After the background paper has dried, it’s time to draw!

  •  Use white soft chalk pastel and draw a curved line for the top of the jellyfish body.
  • Add a wiggle line across the bottom of the jelly for his underbelly.
  • -Add squiggly lines for the tentacles. The tentacles can be either squiggly lines or shapes.
  • – Using either white or another color of chalk, color in the jellyfish body and blend chalk with fingertips. It’s okay for the background to show through. This makes the jelly look translucent. (Shown in step #5)
  • Draw as many jellyfish as you like.

4.) The last step (this is shown in photo #4 not #5), use a black oil pastel to draw wiggly lines from the bottom of the paper up towards the middle. Add short lines that are slightly angled to create seaweed. The black oil pastel really offers a nice contrast to the white jellyfish.

Third grade gallery of Jellyfish Art projects

Jellyfish art project for boys and girls. Super easy drawing & painting project from Deep Space Sparkle

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  • Mary

    I’ve done a couple jellyfish lessons, but these are SO Beautiful! I love the the mixed media effects. Thanks for sharing!

    • Patty Palmer

      Thanks, Mary. I know. I was pretty sure these would be beautiful but still, I was so pleased at how much the kids loved this project and worked on making their jellies unique.

  • Fiona Wood

    Love how these turned out! I did a similar lesson recently (http://sunnysidearthouse.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/paint-and-oil-pastel-jellyfish.html) yet we just used oil pastels instead of chalk. I love the look of the chalk and would use this next time, however if anyone only has oil pastels these also come out beautiful. Jelly fish are a fun easy thing for children to draw and this project has a high success rate. Thanks for sharing Patty!

    • Patty Palmer

      Thank Fiona. I love your post and your blog! I remember you just getting started. Hope everyone starts to follow you.

  • April

    Those are lovely. Although I am not a fan of encountering them while I am swimming, I love watching jellyfish in the aquarium. They are mesmerizing creatures.
    ✿Grade School Giggles✿

  • Melanie

    Just beautiful! So excited about incorporating this lesson into my color unit for tints/shades. Thank you for sharing!! πŸ™‚

  • tessieclaire@hotmail.com

    I love doing watercolors by the lake, its so relaxing and all my kids can participate too.

  • Marie Jacquier

    Wow! I love these. Jelly fish are such a fun subject for kids art and this lesson look fantastic. Will be adding to my program for sure. Thank you Patty for your continuing inspiration.

  • Erum

    Thank You for sharing, my daughter loves painting, and I guess she will definitely love doing this.

  • Kristi

    Wow! I’m new to teaching kindergarten art – do you think this could be adapted for K to do? Love, love, love these!

    • Patty Palmer

      Yes, I really think it could. Sometimes when teaching Kinders, it’s best to focus on one thing. In this case I would focus on drawing one large jellyfish instead of many small ones. Let me know how it works for you.

  • Melissa

    Just to clarify, did you use watercolors or tempera with this lesson? I know the idea was sparked from the watercolor Pinterest board, but the way you described squeezing the paint & diluting the white sounded like tempera to me, since liquid watercolors are so thin…Sorry if this is obvious!

    Thanks so much for so generously sharing from your experience! You’ve been a mentor of sorts to me as I’ve been learning about doing art with my children. πŸ™‚

    • Patty Palmer

      Yes. You’re right. I used liquid tempera paint. I think when I pinned the lesson, I assumed it was watercolor.

  • Susan

    Oh, how beautiful these are!! I am anxious to try this project when school begins again πŸ™‚

  • Irina

    Beautiful project!!! So inspiration!! Thank you! Shoud be done with diffrent fishes or with another sea creatures πŸ™‚ will do it with my students.

  • Irina

    Beautiful project! So inspirational. Will do it with my students. Thsnk you!

  • Georgia

    I love this project and will definitely try this next year. I have done so many of your projects and have never been disappointed with the results. Thank you so much for sharing. Your courses Art 101 and Beyond the Basics were wonderful. I have learned so much from you.

  • leila

    Thank you very much:) sooo beutiful!

  • Debbie

    aahhhh, too bad the kiddos are now gone for the summer πŸ™ Can’t wait to try it next year! Enjoy your summer Patty!

  • Kira

    These are beautiful. I will definitely be adding this to my lesson plans for next year. Thanks so much for all you do!

  • Marianne

    I love all your lesson plan ideas . The Jellyfish painting will be a perfect addition to our unit Inspired by the Sea! I am so glad I found this website!!!

  • Susan

    Beautiful! Is there a literature book you can recommend to read along with this project? πŸ™‚

  • Paula morgan

    Beautiful, simply beautiful. Your ideas are so fun and they are loaded with content. Thank you for always sharing your work.

  • Laurie

    I love your lessons. I feel like you and I have very similar teaching styles, and just wanted to tell you I think you site is absolutely beautiful and your are truly an inspiration! Too bad we don’t live close, I know we would be friends πŸ™‚
    Keep up the lovely work with all of your little artists.

    • Patty Palmer

      Hi Laurie! I agree…I think we would be great friends! Love your page, too.

  • Joan F.

    Love your lessons! They are so detailed and very child-oriented. Also, they always turn out beautifully!! They are also not too involved for the grade you assign them to, like some lessons I have seen. Thank YOU! You are a lifesaver for this music teacher who is also required to teach art in a tiny school out in the middle of nowhere!!

    • Patty Palmer

      Your comment just brings a smile to my face. I love that you are a music teacher. I cannot imagine how unfortunate my students would be if I had to teach music!

  • Becky Vincent

    please add me to your mailing list! Thanks!

  • Verity Madsen

    I love working with chalk and so do the students Thanks for some easy but very striking artwork

  • silvia n.

    Thanks for sharing!! Can’t wait to try it with my students.

  • Kelly

    I just did this project with my 3 kiddos, girls ages 4 and 7, and son age 9. They all loved it and did a great job. Thank you for sharing. This is a great summer project.

  • Catherine Brown

    Going to do this with my Third Graders. They LOVE pastels and just did a project on Color gradation. This is a perfect scaffold using other medias. Could this be adapted with liquid watercolor? Thanks again for this “older” Artist turned first year art teacher. You have inspired me this whole year.

  • Erica

    I absolutely love this activity. I am a public children’s librarian and I used this activity for a children’s art class. They really enjoyed making their jellyfish! Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Rachel

    This was so much fun to make: my eight year old son and I were so happy with the results. Thanks for sharing it πŸ™‚

  • Leanne Robinson

    Did these papers curl up once they dried?

  • Lolita Saffy

    I think their art work is stunning! Kudos to you!

  • Dianne

    Love this, I have 80 minutes once a week to create something with my kiddos. I would love to do this. How long does it take for the paper to dry? Could I possibly use a hair dryer to speed it up? I have 20 students, 3rd grade.

  • Patricia jimenez

    I really like do you used any paper or is some special paper?? And my project will be space and planets or Milky Way

    • Patty

      Hi Patricia,
      I love Tru Ray white drawing paper. You can find it on Blick or even Amazon. I buy the 76-80Lb weight.

  • C W T


  • Kimberly

    The arts are so cool πŸ˜„

  • Doreen Powers

    The kids did a wonderful job. Good idea

  • Dianne Bowman

    My third grade students completed this project a few years ago and it was spectacular. I’m going to squeeze it in again this year, even though we now have a part time Art teacher.

  • Elisa

    I am excited to do this with my talented second graders! Thank you!

  • Nina

    Love this lesson

  • Teresa

    This is a fun lesson! But no way did it take 80 minutes. We brought several hair dryers and let the students dry their background then went right on to the jellyfish and seaweed. I saved the white “bubble” part for last so they could finish this in on e 50 minute class.

  • DeAnn

    What is white soft chalk pastel and where do I get it? Also, is there a youtube video showing steps for kids to follow?

    • Bethany

      Hi DeAnn! There isn’t a YouTube video for the lesson but all the steps are outlined here in the blog. Soft chalk pastel doesn’t crumble or break as easily as hard pastels. One of our favorite brands of soft chalk pastels is Sargent brand and they can be found at most art stores or online.

  • Diane Ward

    This is so simple and amazing. We only have 5 more sessions left for the school year and I needed something that wasn’t so detailed. Thanks for sharing.

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