we help adults teach art to kids

Penguin Art Project

Colorful penguin art project that use simple supplies and teaches a bunch of art techniques. Makes a cute Xmas craft, too!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!


To start, paint a 12″ x 18″ white sulphite paper with puck 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 a little paint colors as they liked. In my demonstration, I used all the paint colors and paint horizontal stripes, so many children copied me, but many children created dots, patterns, full colors, etc.

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.


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.

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 of wonderfully creative things. 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 complete 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?

Colorful penguin art project that use simple supplies and teaches a bunch of art techniques. Makes a cute Xmas craft, too!




  1. 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.


    January 14, 2013

    • 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!

      Patty Palmer

      January 14, 2013

  2. 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

    Meredith Kaur

    January 14, 2013

    • 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.

      Patty Palmer

      January 14, 2013

      • 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 🙂

        Meredith Kaur

        January 17, 2013

  3. 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!!

    Susan Antonelli

    January 14, 2013

    • 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.

      Patty Palmer

      January 14, 2013

  4. 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!).


    January 14, 2013

  5. 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!

    Maris King

    January 15, 2013

  6. 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!

    J.R. Cooper

    January 17, 2013

  7. 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!

    Kathy Dailey

    January 18, 2013

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

    Risë Tyloch

    January 19, 2013

  9. 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!!!

    Sarah Rudland

    January 27, 2013

  10. 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…

    Karla Boughton

    January 29, 2013

  11. 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!


    June 10, 2013

  12. 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. 🙂

    Kelley Wilson

    August 8, 2013

  13. 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


    November 23, 2013

    • 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.

      Patty Palmer

      November 23, 2013

  14. 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.


    November 23, 2013

  15. 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….


    December 1, 2013

  16. 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!


    December 5, 2013

    • 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.

      Patty Palmer

      December 5, 2013

  17. 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 ! 🙂


    December 26, 2013

    • 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.

      Patty Palmer

      December 27, 2013

  18. 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.


    January 16, 2014

  19. 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.


    January 25, 2014

  20. Love the penguin art project! My kindergarteners really enjoyed it


    April 26, 2014

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

    Susan Smith

    November 2, 2014

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

    Joseph DR

    November 11, 2014

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

    Mrs KW

    December 17, 2014

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


    January 29, 2015

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


    February 20, 2015

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

      Patty Palmer

      February 21, 2015

  26. 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!


    December 6, 2015

    • 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.

      Patty Palmer

      December 7, 2015

  27. 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!

    Mrs. Hutchins

    January 8, 2016

  28. 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,


    February 13, 2016

  29. 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!


    November 12, 2016

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


    January 6, 2017

  31. 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.

    Anna Batey

    January 8, 2017

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


      January 8, 2017


  1. Penguin books and crafts for kids - […] Penguin art project from Deep space sparkle […]

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *