Penguin Art Project | Easy holiday art lesson for kids

Penguin At Night Art Project



Penguins are a popular request in first and second grade. Students study Antarctica and are quite familiar with penguins and their habitat. Once students see how easily they can draw a penguin using a base of simple shapes, this lesson is sure to be a fan favorite.

Final Completed Image Penguin Art Project | Easy holiday art lesson for children

What You’ll Need:

– 12″ x 18″ white sulphite paper

– Black & white oil pastels

– Liquid tempera paint (white, blue, purple, black, orange)

– Medium round paintbrush


I begin the lesson by showing the kids how to draw a penguin. I place many pictures of penguins on the white board so the children can add their own details. As I give the demonstration, I offer plenty of “options” so that each painting will be uniquely theirs.

We’ve created a handy drawing guide for you to use to draw the penguin. Download yours here: (NOTE: We recommend downloading the freebie using Chrome or Safari)

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Using a black oil pastel, draw one large oval for the body and one small circle for the head.

Connect these shapes with two graceful lines for the neck. When I demonstrate this step, I show how you can place the small circle for the head off to the side. Once you connect the head and the body, it will look like the penguin is craning its neck.

Penguin Art Project | Easy penguin holiday drawing for kids

Finish off the bottom of the body and add some feet peeking out below.

Add wings. Demonstrate a few different options for the wings; they can be down to the side, waving up in the air, or a combination of both. If you give students freedom on this step, you’ll be surprised how creative they can be.

Step 3 Penguin Art Project | Easy drawing steps for kids


Next, draw an iceberg or an ice shelf in the background. To do this, draw a horizon line first near the center of the page.

I give the option to draw half an iceberg or one that extends all the way across the paper. Either way, the top of the iceberg is a wavy line. Add some vertical lines from the top of the iceberg to the horizon line.

Some children will want to draw a hole in the ice. I like to show them how to make the ice look like it has shape. To do this, draw another “ring” around the hole and draw vertical lines connecting both rings.

Step 4 Penguin Art Project | Easy penguin and iceberg holiday project


Despite wanting to dip into the black paint first for the penguins, I tell children that it helps to paint the beak first, then the ice, the sky and finally the penguins. This way, the messy black paint won’t muddy up the crystal blue ice or the beautiful night sky.

Paint the beak orange.

As you move on to the ice, use the double-dipping technique with blue and white paint to create varying tints of blue in the ice shelf.

Step 5 Penguin Art Project | Easy holiday penguin painting project for kids


Dip your paintbrush into one color, then again into another. Apply both colors to the paper without over-mixing. Part of the fun of this technique is the experimentation of using different amounts of each color to see what happens. For example, a big dip of blue, then a tiny dip into white will yield a different outcome than a big dip of white and tiny dip into blue.

Continue to paint the night sky using dark colors like purple and dark blue.

Penguin Art Project | Simple winter painting lesson for kids

Next, add the black to the penguin, leaving the belly white. To make the grey feet, double load the paintbrush with black and white.

Step 6 Penguin Art Project | Fun winter art lesson for kids

Finally, add some pure white stars twinkling in the night sky. If your paintbrush is too dirty, you can dip the back end of it in paint to make the stars instead.

Penguin Art Project | Easy paint and pastel art project for kids

When the painting is dry, use the black oil pastel to trace over all the black lines. You can use the white oil pastel to draw the eye back in if it has been painted over.

Penguin Art Project | Black and white oil pastel on paint, kids art project

Want more in-depth lessons with accompanying standards and assessments for similar projects? The Sparklers’ Club has thousands of fully standardized lesson plans to make curriculum planning effortless. Join the waitlist for the Sparklers Club!

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Penguin Art Project | Easy holiday or winter art project for kids using paint and oil pastels

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  • Pamela Holderman

    I love your site. I teach after school art and used your penguin idea and changed it a little. thanks so much. Oh I blogged about it today with pictures too.

  • Joni

    I love these art ideas. We do not have an art teacher in our school, so I have to come up with the art projects. Thank you so much for all the wonderful ideas. I can’t wait to use this penguin in the classroom next week.

  • melissa

    I have a student that has left us for ANTARCTICA! We’re going to embark on a mini study of Antarctica tomorrow and to kick it off? You bet…PENGUINS!

  • Shauna

    I just wanted to let you know that my daughter and I had so much fun making your penguin paintings together. My daughter’s turned out so adorable and I love the creative flair she added to it. Here is a link to the post where you can see her painting as well as where I mentioned your wonderful website: http://myshaenoel.blogspot.com/2012/02/penguin-painting-literacy-activities.html
    Thanks for all of your inspirational art activities that you so generously share with us! I just think that your website is fabulous!
    Take care!

  • Toni New

    I really appreciate all the lessons you have developed…If I was little I would so love your class.

  • teri

    I did this art project with my kindergarten class. They loved it! We used oil pastels and the color was outstanding. Thank you for this post.

  • Rachel Kauffman

    I have used this lesson! In elementary
    One of my favorites, thank you!
    I’m going to use it with the elderly as a beginning art teacher!

  • Kathy

    I love this idea! I’m going to try it with my special needs students & am so excited bc we can do so many variations to fit their needs.
    Stay tuned!!

  • Kathy

    I love this idea! I’m going to try it with my special needs students & am so excited bc we can do so many variations to fit their needs.
    Stay tuned!!

  • Rhonda Feinberg

    Such a fun lesson! I am excited to try it with my students.


    Me encanta este blog. Lo uso para mis alumnos y les encanta!!! Es muy creativo y quedan unos dibujos increíbles!!

  • Leona Swift

    Hi, I teach year 1 and try to include art as much as possible even though we have a STEAM teacher as well. I’ve used your Gerald from Giraffes cant dance numerous times and always with great success. I’d love to be able to do penguins this week but I’m unable to down load your video with instructions (and yes I’m using chrome). Can you help please?

    • Bethany

      Hi Leona! I just tested the link and everything is working on our end. I added your email to the box and you should receive your download directly to your inbox. Enjoy!

  • Tristy

    I am a gold member but couldn’t find this lesson on DSS when I searched Penguins or Antarctica. Where is it “hidden”?

  • Elizabeth

    I have used as a sub plan for 2nd grade in the past and the kids loved it!

  • Deborah Kramer

    Hi – I am already a member. How to download this lesson? Looking forward to trying it out. thank you

    • Bethany

      Hi Deborah! 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. Enjoy.

  • M. Wilbanks

    Thanks DSS for the great lesson! When we use black oil pastel, and then paint over it, or near it, it smears into the paint. Is there anyway to avoid this? Does it need time to “dry” first? Thx!

    • Mabre Lencho-Armstrong

      Hi M. Wilbanks! Mabre from the DSS Creative Team here. Some brands of oil pastels definitely create more crumbs than others. There are are few things you can try to avoid them smearing into the paint. The first is to gently flip the paper over a trash can or messy mat and tap the back so that any crumbs are knocked off before you begin painting. Another option is to lay down your lines lightly with the oil pastel first, paint and then go back over the lines with the oil pastel to really emphasize them once the painting is finished/dry. When painting, you can also make sure that your brush has plenty of paint/water on it so that you are not scrubbing over the oil pastel and moving those crumbs around. Hope this helps!

  • kimberly morris

    Such a great painting for our Antarctica unit!

  • mara feder

    Deep Space Sparkle is creative for kids since its not so regimented.

  • Carla Drake

    I love deep sparkle

  • Jane pulice

    Love it

  • Amy Kavanaugh

    Very nice project for 2nd graders!

  • Cynthia

    Thanks, so much. I tutor a little girl in grade 1 and this is just what she need to practice shapes and follow directions. She missed going to Kindergarten so her attention span and focus is hindering her progress in school.

  • Alet Van Huyssteen

    Would love to know more.

  • Sue McEwen

    Love this! We are doing this tomorrow !!!!

  • marley

    very good maybe try making a video on how to do it (:

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