Happy Paper Penguin art project for kids in the art room with free download guide and templates

Happy Paper Penguin Art Project


If you are looking for an expressive, easy and impressive penguin art project, look no further! These adorable penguins are quite easy to complete in two, 40-minute sessions and use simple art supplies. I’ve seen so many adorable penguin art projects, but my favorite are these. Thank you Mountain Color!

Watch the full video tutorial here…

DOWNLOAD my templates for these happy penguins in the December Freebie Pack below…

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  • 18″ x 12″ white sulphite paper
  • Blue chalk pastel
  • Embellishments
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Cake tempera paints
  • Large flat brush
  • White splatter paint
  • White, black, & yellow paper


To start, paint a 12″ x 18″ white sulphite paper with cake tempera paints. I use puck tempera paint purely for the ease of prep. You can set the palettes on the table and whisk them off after the lesson is done…no cleaning or wasting paints.

I asked the children to create a colorful background for the penguins but didn’t give them any guidelines other than they could use as many or as little paint colors as they liked. In my demonstration, I used all the paint colors and painted horizontal stripes. So many children copied me, but many children created dots, patterns, full colors, etc.

making a paper penguin art project happy kids art painted background


To make the penguin, I gave each student a piece of black and white sulphite paper. I showed the children how to make a large letter “U” on the back of the black paper. I cut it out and made a smaller letter “U” on the white paper. Cut out the white paper and place white paper on black paper.

For the wings, I showed the children how to fold a piece of black paper in half and draw a skinny letter “D”. They cut the double paper out for the two wings.

And lastly for the feet, the children draw two squares with zig-zags on the top and cut out both shapes. You can use my templates in the handout above to make all the shapes for the penguins body.

make a paper happy penguin kids art project lesson template

On the second day of this lesson, the children drew an iceberg on white sulphite paper using a blue chalk pastel. They cut the iceberg out and glued it to the colorful background. Once the iceberg is in place, the penguin can find it’s home on the iceberg.

making a paper happy penguin art for kids iceburg oil pastel

Now comes the truly FUN part, decorating!

I set out scrap paper, scraps of burlap, buttons, oil pastels, yarn and palettes of white paint and q-tips. The children made hats, mitts, snowflakes, purses, scarves and all sorts or wonderfully creative things.

making a paper penguin happy art project for kids embellishments

To add an extra detail, take out your Splatter Box and have the children create snow. If you’ve never done splatter painting with your students, you are totally missing out!

happy paper penguin project splatter paint winter lesson for kids

It’s so rewarding to walk around the art room and see busy little hands and happy faces. I couldn’t believe (honestly) that the children were able to compete this project in time, but they did. After thinking about it, I decided that because the skills required were not too challenging and because the project was quite simple to start and fun to finish, the children never lost concentration.

I hope you give this one a try…it’s a keeper! Aren’t my first graders an artistic bunch?

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first grade penguins art project paper winter lessons

Click HERE for more winter themed art lessons.

Happy Paper Penguin

What do you think?

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  • Tanya

    These are so cute. I’m wondering if my 3 year old could do it. Maybe with a lot of help. It would still be a fun project to do with him. He loves when we do crafts. He always carries them around for the next few days showing everyone he sees.

    • Patty Palmer

      This would be a fun project with your little guy…perhaps give him 2 or 3 colors to paint the background and then he could hep glue the bits and pieces to his penguin. Have fun!

  • Meredith Kaur

    Hi Patty,
    I am a high school science teacher, and I really enjoy reading your blog. I use Google Reader to subscribe, and I noticed sometime in the past 2 weeks or so, it seems like you switched formats. I can’t read the whole post in Reader anymore, but I have to click over to your website to see the “full post” and I was just wondering why you changed the format and if you have any plans to change it back? I really dislike it this way.
    Thanks for all the great lessons and art projects! It’s been great reading 🙂
    Meredith Kaur

    • Patty Palmer

      Hi Meredith,
      I switched over to truncating my RSS feeds for many reasons, but mostly to protect my content. Many blogs are opting to do this. I’m sorry you don’t like having to click to my blog but I probably won’t change it. I put so much work into my blog and offer so many free posts and resources that I do prefer people read my blog on my site rather than never clicking through. I know that I personally prefer truncated posts as it takes me much less time to scroll through my reader and click through to the posts I really want to read, instead of scrolling through hundreds of full posts and photos.
      Thanks for voicing your opinions though. I appreciate the feedback.

      • Meredith Kaur

        I understand. It’s a real shame you have to worry at all about your content. It’s such an awful thing to think about people ripping you off. Well I’m still subscribed so I may be reading less, but we’ll see. Thanks for sharing your opinions as well.
        Thanks for all the great lessons, even this science teacher has learned a few things 🙂

  • Susan Antonelli

    Those penguins are adorable. Makes me want to go read “Tacky!” The collage bits really add a lot of character.
    PS- I fully support your decision to truncate your blog in feeds. It used to annoy me but in the past months I’ve learned a little more about “pirate” blogs that steal and republish content. Not cool at all. A click through is certainly worth all the goodness at DSS!!

    • Patty Palmer

      Oh, thanks for saying that Susan! There is so much more to blogging that meets the eye nowadays. Blogging used to be so easy but now everything needs to be protected.

  • Rina

    Hi Patty

    These are so wonderful! The colored background is a fabulous backdrop. The penguin decorations are adorable. Love that it only takes two classes (and uses tempera cakes!).

    • Breslynn

      I agree

  • Maris King

    Very impressive! Those penguins are really cute and I love the way it was being made.
    I love it so much cos there are some methods on how to do it. Thanks!

  • J.R. Cooper

    I love these! The contrast between the background and the penguin is spectacular. I especially love how I could use this to get rid of some of my old wallpaper samples!

  • Kathy Dailey

    These are just adorable! I’m going to try them in my kindergarten class this month. We may have to simplify them a little sincer we have a half day program but I know they will just LOVE the bright, funky penguins!! Reminds me of my bright, funky kinders!

  • Risë Tyloch

    I plan to do this with my first graders. Love it!

  • Sarah Rudland

    Thank you so much for this adorable art project! My firsties are going to do them in Art Station this week and I am so excited to see what they come up with! I’m going to have them all paint their background tomorrow morning when they first come in so they’ll be dry for whatever day they go to art station. This is just perfect for our penguin theme this week!! THANKS!!!

  • Karla Boughton

    Thank you so much for this site! I am my son’s 1st grade art docent with more “crafty” than art experience. I’ve used two of your projects so far, and will be doing these adorable penguins this Friday. I only have one day, so I’ll be using pastels instead of paint, but I think the impact will still be there. Again, thank you for your generous website. I’m excited to see what the littles come up with…

  • Nikki

    Thank you for posting this! I got a ton of fleece donated and it went perfectly with this lesson a couple of months ago. I also started it by reading Tacky the Penguin!

  • Kelley Wilson

    I love this one too. I teach at schools where reading is a real priority. Therefore love having a good book to read to relate or tie into my lesson. This lesson would go great with “Penguins, Penguins, Everywhere!” by Bob Barner. The book is basic, but I love the bio on Bob Barner as I often enjoy sharing the story of the illustrator as much as I do reading the book. Barner started drawing when he was three. I would ask my first grade class, “when did you start drawing?” imagine the responses! lol I love when I can make connections and tie in personal experiences. This will be fun for a winter unit. 🙂

  • Eric

    Good morning,
    I’m a french teacher in an elementary school.

    Thank you for this great ideas ! They are very cute this little pinguins !

    For christmas, we’re going to make this animals.

    have a nice day

    • Patty Palmer

      Bonjour, Eric!
      That’s as much french as I know. Glad you found my blog an enjoy this lessons. It was so much fun to do.

  • Sandy

    Love this project! I loved how you taught them to make the penguin by making a large letter u and wings with the letter d. Great visual.

  • dolores

    I love this art lesson. Every piece comes out differently and gives the students a chance to make their own decisions on colors, shapes and increasing their art skills. As an art teacher (30+ yrs.) I have turned myself inside out trying to explain/convince elementary self contained classroom teachers that “doing art” doesn’t mean you solve all the problems for them. (aka artwork that has everything all cut out and all that remains are the mechanical no-brainer parts)

    And more for elementary classroom teachers: It also doesn’t mean that by using art supplies that your project is an ART project. It’s a (science, social studies, etc.) project using art supplies. It’s an unending battle, I swear.

    Keep up the good work! I would definitely try this one out for K-1 grades. Painting, cutting skills, visual skills, gluing skills – and just plain fun! You’re a good art teacher….

  • IzzyLotte

    Hi Patti –

    Love the penguins!!! Wondering if you have a “tip” for getting the kids to cut hats/coats/etc…. the appropriate size …. ??? I can see my kinders cutting out hats that are the size of a 50 cent piece!

    • Patty Palmer

      Hi Izzy,
      You have to demo the process. I show the kids how to make scarves and hats by placing a small piece of paper next to the penguin and making a mark with an oil pastel. It always helps to place small squares of paper in a bin so kids don’t end up cutting huge pieces of paper.

  • Alexi

    Hi! So happy I found your blog! Such nice art projects for my firsties! I was wondering what your evaluation criteria would be for this project?

    Thanks ! 🙂

    • Patty Palmer

      Hi Alexi,
      I don’t have to assess my students for skill levels but if I did, I would keep my focus on how well the children draw their penguin shape and put the pieces together. It’s not always intuitive for all kids. Another thing to watch for is how creative a child creates his penguin decorations. One of my students took great care in providing a realistic environment for her penguin while another student created a whimsical home. Both were thought out and executed well.

  • Lynne

    Hi Patty,

    These are awesome! I love penguin crafts and am always looking for new ideas for my Kindergarten class. Love the method of using the letters U and D to make the body.
    Thanks so much.

  • Amanda

    I just adore penguins and learning about them. This week I posted 101+ activities and crafts to do with a penguin theme and included a link back to this post. It was sooo cute. I hope our readers stop by and visit your site! Thank you for inspiring others to draw, learn, and connect with their children.

  • Susana

    Love the penguin art project! My kindergarteners really enjoyed it

  • Susan Smith

    Would love to have this as my Christmas card. Have you thought about a print of this or selling cards?

  • Joseph DR

    Excellent art project, Patty! I am doing this with my first and kinder kids. They’re having lots of fun :O)

  • Mrs KW

    I pinned these a while ago and my class finished them today. Absolutely adorable. Penguins are now on the west coast of Scotland!!

  • kjillo@msn.com

    I did this project with my 2nd grade classes and they came out wonderful! We received lots of compliments from the teachers and staff!

  • khalpana

    I love this penguin project, planning to do with preschool class. Is there any recommendation of picture book.

    • Patty Palmer

      There is a cute Oliver Jeffers book, Lost and Found, that is great with this lesson. Also, Penguin by Polly Dunbar.

  • Michelle

    I absolutely love these – the colors are beautiful! I would like to do these but we only have 1 day to make them and only about 70 minutes. What would you suggest? I still want the colors to be vibrant!

    • Patty Palmer

      70 minutes should cover it. Thats a lot of time. Do the background first-set aside to dry. Work on Penguins but maybe eliminate the iceberg.

  • Mrs. Hutchins

    Wow! So beautiful! I am glad I took the time to read your instructions. As a first grade teacher time is tight and I like how manageable you make a project. Thank you!

  • Mrsrf

    Just wanted to thankyou for this activity which I did today for my 8 year old’s birthday. It worked very well in a single hour session, but we didn’t do the snow part,

  • Annette

    My 6-year-old declared today “Penguin Day” when she got up this morning. I thought “Sure, why not?” So we did some Penguiny things in celebration one of which was this art project, which I found via Pinterest. It turned out so darling and we had fun doing it together. Thanks!

  • Theresa

    I’m teaching this lesson tomorrow morning and then doing your webinar! It’s going to be a DSS day!

    • Patty

      Haha! Love it!

  • Anna Batey

    As I read it, I said to myself..I love you Patti. It is the best idea for 1st graders. My 4th, 5th and 6th graders challenge themselves but I struggle to keep my 1st focused. To master this problem, I may be overly through with directions and completion of steps. Never have I found another blog or website which has helped me more than Deep Space Sparkle. It kept me going that first six weeks…now I depend on those projects and have built on them. They gave me confidence and in turn have done the same for my students.

    • Patty

      Thank you so much! This penguin lesson is truly a kid-happy project.

  • Marleen Nijsen

    Nice. I m gone try these.

  • Paulette

    I love this idea!!! It is so unique and awesome. I am going to try to duplicate it with my five year olds. Thank you for sharing!???

  • Jean


  • Sherie Frank

    Great lesson. I am a retired art teacher and now do projects with my grandchildren. Always nice to see new ideas.

  • Kim

    Simply adorable! Thank you for sharing.?

  • Dolores Sasso

    These penquins are wonderful. Love them all

  • Dolores Sasso

    These penquins are wonderful.

  • Pamela Bronson

    Could 4-yearr-olds handle this?

  • Pamela Bronson

    Could 4-year-olds handle this?

    • amurray

      I’m about to find out!

  • B. Keck

    Is sulphite paper something I can buy at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s??

  • Jeanette Rengel

    Love this project did a similar thing with grade 3 using a book about a penguin called Phillip . it has an environmental message about pollution etc.

  • Tania Opdebeeck

    Nice! I love pinguïns and i love creating with children. Thanks!

  • Anabel T Valdes

    Looks awesome! Thanks for sharing

  • Marci

    love this!!!!!!!!!!!

  • farkhanda

    I did not get december freepack

  • Alejandra

    Muy hermoso. Gracias

  • Dilkhwaz

    This is amezing jobb.

  • Umaiya Sultana

    What grade would this be good for?

    • Bethany

      Hi Umaiya! I think the lessons you are asked about would both be great for 2nd or 3rd graders. However, reading the comments above it appears others have had a great experience with K and 1st graders as well.

      • Umaiya Sultana

        My little brother is in 1st. I’ll try to do it with him, then.

      • Umaiya Sultana

        thank you!

  • Shauna


  • Wagner

    Your ideas are amazing! I can‘t wait to try them 🙂

    Thank you very much!

  • Becky

    i can’t get to your template.
    i guess I will make my own.

    • Bethany

      Hi Becky! I just tested the link and everything is working on our end. Are you using Firefox as your browser? We’ve recently learned that our downloads aren’t working with a Firefox browser, so I’d suggest using Chrome or Safari instead. If you add your email to the box we will send it directly to your email address. Be sure to check your spam or junk folders. You can also reach out to us at support@deepspacesparkle.com

  • Dianne Schuring

    I use several lessons from Deep Space Sparkle and the kids love them!

  • renee

    so cute!

  • Sein

    Very good explanation of grad 1~2


    I can’t seem to get get either picture link to open when I click the picture to download the templates. Any suggestions? Thank you 🙂

    • Bethany

      Hi Dianna! If you click the download button and add your email address we will send the lesson directly to your inbox. Be sure to check your Spam or Junk folders to make sure it didn’t end up there. We have found that both the Chrome or Safari browsers work best so be sure to try using one of those. I just tested the link and everything worked. If you continue to have trouble you can email support@deepspacesparkle.com. Enjoy.

  • Teresa

    Love this project. I had a boy that decided to make his penguins eyes triangle shape instead of round. He gave him “punching gloves” and cut up black yarn to glue under the wings for “arm pits”, lol. It was very original!

  • Therese Kroll

    Love this glad I rejoined

  • Seema+Shahzad

    love it!

  • Natasha

    Do you have the original directions to this Art project? I could be wrong, but I thought you had a plan without using a stencil. If so, could you please let me know where to find it. Thank you.

    • Bethany

      Hi Natasha, great question. You don’t have to use the templates they are just an option. The directions to complete the lesson are included in the Blog post and the templates can be found in the downloadable pdf. I hope that helps.

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