The Sketchbook Project Lesson #7 farm animals

Sketchbook Project #7: Farm Animals


The Sketchbook Project: How to Draw Farm Animals

The Sketchbook Project is a record of how my sixth grade students used sketchbooks during their art class to record art information and create projects. Learn how I used sketchbooks instead of individual sheets of paper to teach art & creativity.

Week One: The Beginning

Week Two: Creating Value

Week Three: Atmospheric Perspective

Week Four: Tree Line Drawings

Week Five: Sonia Delaunay Abstract Art

Week Six: Portrait Journalling

Week Seven: Line drawings


Drawing animals is a favorite art subject for pretty much every child. Children love to draw their pet and can often do so with ease, but drawing an unfamiliar animal takes some practice.

For this project, I wanted to offer my 6th graders the opportunity to explore farm animals. I gathered some books, of which Farm Anatomy by Julia Rothman remains my favorite.

The strategy for this project was to encourage the kids to use their sketchbook to practice drawing a few animals. I photocopied animal pictures from books and placed some photographs on the white board. I asked the kids to draw at least 3 different animals, or one animal 3 different ways. The intention was to push them out of any comfort zones they may have.

After they sketched a few animals, they selected which animals they wanted to develop further. Using pencils, the kids drew their animal(s) in an art-style of their choice. This was the fun part. Some kids created farm scenes, others created pop art animals, others went 3-D…so many options!

And with many of the Sketchbook projects in this series, I allowed the kids to use whatever coloring medium they wanted. Some used markers, pencil crayons, watercolor paints and others went the collage route.

I have to admit, that this project produced the most varied results. The kids LOVED choosing their own medium. At first I worried that allowing the children to move around the art room to gather supplies from the art cupboards would result in chaos, but the opposite happened. They were quick and deliberate. They put their own supplies back when class was over. They were empowered with their freedom (as most 6th graders are) and for me it resulted in a lively art-making session.

I don’t know if this fits in with the choice-based classroom model, but if it does, I’m happy to say that it was really successful!

The Sketchbook Project: How to Draw Farm Animals


You may be wondering about drawing guides and instructions. For this project, I didn’t offer any. The pictures of the animals were enough for 85% of the kids to get started with their ideas. For those who felt stuck or were on the verge of quitting because they couldn’t quite figure out how to draw a horse or a pig or a chicken, I sat with them.

I love doing this. When most of the class is working on their art, I love to go around to the struggling students and offer some private lessons. I show them on the photocopy image that animals are made up of shapes. I draw the shapes over the photocopy and then show the kids how to use their finger or their pencil to gauge how long a leg is compared to the size of the body. By breaking down the shapes and giving a few tips, children have enough information to proceed.

Here’s a sampling of the wonderful variety of art created by the 6th graders. Aren’t they fun?

The Sketchbook Project: How to Draw Farm Animals

Here is my collection of art projects based on animals.

Missed the last installments of the Sketchbook project?

Intro:  The Sketchbook Project: The Beginning 

Week #1: The Sketchbook Project: Creating Value + Free Worksheet

Week # 2 The Sketchbook Project: Atmospheric Perspective (Landscapes)

Week #3 The Sketchbook Project: Tree Line Drawings

Week #4 The Sketchbook Project: Sonia Delaunay Circles

Week #5 Expressive Self-Portraits

WEEK #6 Line Drawings

Download this free lesson guide on our Chicken Little template for more art lesson inspiration!

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  • artinKC

    Interesting to know your sketchbook process. I’ve had my middle school students make them, carefully using leather awls to punch spine holes to sew, with decorated cardstock covers. We use them for a warm up exercise for a little while at the top of class. They leave them in class. I’ll often have students come back to an idea like drawing eyes (with minaturized step-by-step instructions stapled inside one cover) so they can see their improvement over several practice sessions.

  • Leigh Ann Wells

    How long do you have your students? The time frame…all year, 6 weeks, 9 weeks? My middle school students change every 9 weeks. Do you or will you be offering anything for 7th and 8th grade?

  • Shannon Corbin

    This is absolutely a fantastic series!! My boys love art (as do I), but I didn’t know how to teach it. Thank you for helping us explore and learn new things ?

  • Susan

    Very cute

  • d.va

    Were is the link for the handout???


    Very nice ideas. Thank you very much!

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