make a paper penguin art winter lesson for kids

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

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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!).

  • 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!