Line Drawing Art Lessons: Turtles


Line drawings are a super easy way to start off your art curriculum. I usually do some type of line drawing with all my grade levels at the beginning of the year. Not only is the set-up simple and there is virtually no clean-up, but it gives me a chance to get to get to know my students and their art interest.

The projects may look simple, but in fact, there is a lot going on!

These turtle drawings develop fine motor skills: drawing with a marker, cutting and pasting, establish a sense of freedom with art (mistakes are not only fine; they make great art!) and finally they beautify your classroom during these first few weeks of school which makes parents happy and students proud. What more do you need?

Okay, so here’s how to do it:

Drawing Paper
Black fine-tip marker (Sharpies make a dynamic statement)
Colored construction paper

How We Drew the Turtle

Directed line drawing for the turtle:
Draw a large upside down letter “U”

Connect the bottom with a slightly curved line. Then, make another line just above the bottom line.

For the belly of the turtle, create a scalloped edge by drawing little upside down bumps along the bottom line.

Add two letter “U’s” for the feet.

Next, add a sideways “triangle” for the tail.

Then, add a head by putting your marker on the very bottom corner of the shell and drawing a large bubble shape. Make sure to keep the neck thin and the head big and round. If you want, you can add a mouth.

Fill in the turtle shell with lines, connecting the curved lines to make a patchwork of shells.

Now, fill in all the small sections in the shell with different patterns. Use hearts, zig-zags, bubbles, spirals, checkerboards, wavy lines, etc. Be creative!

Now, here’s a tip: When making a pattern of lines, make sure to connect the lines to the outside of the shape. Don’t stop short!

These sweet turtles were done by Kinders! Needless to say, they were very proud.

One of the secrets to making the project appear easy, is to draw lots of pattern samples on the board. Ask the children what a line is and then draw some. Point out patterns on classmate’s shirts, on the wall, etc. Get interactive!

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  • Ms. Julie's Place

    Tangle Turtles!! Love these.

    • angela

      these are amazing! #Loveit!

    • kaylee

      you are the best artist

  • Joi

    I made one of these last night. Thank you very much for the drawing instructions. I am not very good at drawing and your instructions were perfect! I love my turtle.

    My daughter wants to do one with a seahorse. 🙂

  • TeachKidsArt

    I love this idea! Can't wait to try it…. thanks for sharing this!!!

  • aimee

    I love your website. It's very helpful to me since I am a new elementary art teacher and graduated from college with only secondary internship experience.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • davecrombie

    Love your ideas my daughter and I try before I teach at school and she can't wait for our tuesday art testing day …thank you

  • marry

    oho good dear !!!! very interesting blog and a good posting !!! you must maintain your blog, its interesting !!! Nice Buddy

    Research Papers Help

  • Jess

    Hi Patty!

    I also use drawing lines as a great way start off the year for younger grades. Our curriculum is based upon the elements and principles of design and "line" is the first month!

    Check out one of my kindergarten line projects on my blog:


  • Patty Palmer

    Gotta love the "line"! Good luck with your site!

  • amber

    LOVE this lesson! I homeschool my kids and this lesson was used at a co-op that we attended. This year, I’m doing it at home with my K and 2nd grader to wrap up our turtle week! Since we live in Asia, I GREATLY appreciate having access to all of your awesome lessons online! What a great help! Thanks for all the work you have put into this wonderful site!!

  • Karlos

    Your site has been such a big help with getting new ideas. Nothing makes the day fly by like trying something new with your students!!!

  • ashley

    a great lesson for my special education class!

  • karen

    I’m sure you know this by now, but there is a book named A dome for a Home about a turtle looking for a cozy home. written by ruth martin illustrated by michael Garton.

    • karen

      you can introduce the turtle project by reading the book.

    • Patty

      Thanks for the book rec! I’ll look for it.

  • Renata

    What is the colored construction paper for? My guess is that the turtle is cut out and pasted onto a colored background?

  • M

    I work at an English kindergarten in Siberia, of all places, and was recently asked by the school’s director to start teaching art! I had mentioned, in passing, my art history major and some low-level painting classes that I had taken and I suppose she thought it’d be a great idea for me to teach art. Needless to say, I was lost, confused, and terrified and am now slightly less so thanks to your phenomenal site! Thank you for sharing your wonderful creativity.

  • rosabella jose fernando

    Thnx i found this as an ideas to my lines and coloring ideas for my pupils in prep. 😉

  • Wendy

    How long did this lesson take with kinder?

  • Lora

    I love this! I’m thinking of doing this with K-4. MY students would enjoy this project. What do you think about painting it? What would you suggest?

  • Mary Henderson

    so adorable

  • beckerm@woodlandschools.org

    Can kinders outline with sharpie? I’m a first year teacher and I wasn’t sure if sharpies would work

    • patty.palmer@deepspacesparkle.com

      Yes. Sharpies work well but oil pastel and black paint (watered down and with a smaller brush) are quite fun on paint. If you aren’t sure, just do a practice project and see where the kids are at. Most love sharpies.
      Thanks for the question!

  • Eddie

    I was doing my aesthetics project but i was struggling to find good art. Thank God i found your website!!!

  • Mel

    I’m a first time Arts and Crafts facilitator and started off introducing the GrR-3’s to lines. This will be a lovely follow on activity.

  • jac

    Hi, how long was this lesson? Would love to try it with my prep class, not sure if I need a back up activity.

    • Patty

      The drawing part requires between 30-50 minutes depending on your age group and how many students you have. You can also extend the lesson by cutting out the shape and pasting to paper. Hope this helps 🙂

  • Myrna

    Thank you for this brilliant idea! 🙂

  • Tim Branson

    What a great idea for building knowledge of lines.

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