Symmetrical Paper Cut Aliens!


This lesson is based on symmetry so as far as teaching kids cool subjects, this one is perfect. In my opinion, there is nothing more pleasing to the ear than hearing a six year old explain symmetry, let alone saying it.

It’s a fun word…lots of syllables that when spoken correctly (or very near to it) earns a pretty respected look from parents and teachers. Kids LOVE this word.

So now turn the word into creepy, strange, whimsical ALIEN and you have one hour of pure joy on your hands.

– Crayon
– Colored paper
– Scissors
– Sequins, googly eyes, etc.


Creating the Alien.
Not easy for wee kids, but the older they are, the easier it’ll be to teach. I have done this lesson with first and third grade students and it’s a safe bet to say that the older kids got more out of the lesson. But the younger kids do, too.

Take a sheet of construction paper and fold it in half lengthwise. It doesn’t have to be lengthwise, but it’ll make the alien taller. Please forgive the kid who folds it the wrong way.

Now, for the next step, you have options…

First option:For younger kids (1st-2nd grade), give them a crayon (not a pencil…it evokes to much perfectionism) and have them draw a line from the top of the paper down to the bottom. Not just any old line, but something that resembles a half of a head, half of a body, arms, legs, etc. A little talk on symmetry helps here. Explain how the children will only draw half a body. You will need to demonstrate this step repeatedly, but consider it an investment since the rest of the project is a breeze.

Once the line is drawn, cut it out.

Second option: For older kids, give them a pair of scissors and instruct them to create their half of an alien body just by cutting. This ends up to be more of a surprise. When they open up the paper, they will have a big blob. Now it’s time to turn that blob into an alien.


Decorating the Alien
It really helps to have small scraps of paper (get out your scrap box), sequins, googly eyes, plastic and aluminum gizmos…anything that the kids can use to decorate their aliens. But first things first. Glue the alien onto a piece of white paper. I like white because it provides a great contrast, but so would black. I just had an idea…you could, in another class, paint a planet or alien habitat on the background paper. Hmmm. Might try that next year.

Tips: Many kids will cut the wrong side of the paper. They will end up with two pieces instead of one alien. I wish I had a picture of this common mistake but trust me, it’ll happen. One way to fix it, is to glue the two pieces together. They’ll have a line down the middle of their alien, but to be honest, there is no better mistake a kid can make. They really understand symmetry by trying.

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  • Pink & Green Mama

    I love this as an alternative to the typical butterfly symmetry project! I'll have to file this one away in case I ever end up in a classroom again : )

    • Robin Amy B

      this sounds like a plan

  • Pink & Green Mama

    I love this as an alternative to the typical butterfly symmetry project! I'll have to file this one away in case I ever end up in a classroom again : )

    • Divisha Choudhary

      This is my class project and I like the way they explain how to make the alien they also give useful tips. I never thought that this alien would be so easy!I thought it will be very hard without my parents but I tried it without seeing This but what ever they explained came in my mind it is very useful.

  • Beth

    Did this with my art camp yesterday . . word for the day "symmetrical". Thanks for the great ideas!!!

  • Miss Tabarcea

    I can't wait to try this in the fall!

  • ONe PiNK FiSH

    You are a masterful artist amd have a way with getting kiddos to express themselve. I love your blog so must I have given you an award.

    Stop by onepinkfish to pick it up.

  • Louise

    I also have an award for you at my blog and i love your ideas.

  • theartcart

    I'm going to teach this lesson at camp today. So much fun! Thanks!

  • Michellel

    That is so incredibly cute!

    I would love to teach this in our art club. (Is there an artist that this could be tied to.)

    We usually try to do an artist bio with our study.


  • Patty P

    Hi Michelle,
    Sorry, no affiliated artist…just fun!

  • Christi

    I did this with my 1st grade "I hate art" son, and while the project didn't get as in-depth and I don't know that he got symmetry, this is the first art project that he has EVER done that he was proud of. Well actually the 2nd but the first was just stringing a few beads on a necklace. He was so proud of his alien that he wanted it on the wall.

    I blogged about it here:

    I need to look for some more ideas that I think he will enjoy but I wanted to say thank you for this one.

  • Art Box

    Hi Patty — I absolutely adored your blog! Recently, I tried your symmetrical alien project with my grade 3 students and they were really engaged. Instead of a white background, I got them to paste their aliens on black construction paper and given them oil pastels do a background for their surreal creature. To top it off, I bought some glitter glue for a dazzling effect. The kids went haywire over glitter glue. But overall, it turned out well. Thanks so much for such a creative idea!

  • Our Family

    This was great, I did it with my 6 and 3 year old and they got a kick out of it! Thanks for the idea and tips!

  • Palisades

    Love, love, LOVE the Symmetrical Paper Cut Aliens project! I have been doing a VERY similar project since it appeared in the October 2004 issue of Arts and Activities magazine (“Symmetrical Aliens” by Ellen McNally) . Fun to see your different takes on it. Thanks much for sharing!

  • Sherri Cline

    I created this project with second grade students! We made the aliens from wallpaper samples and added details with paper and sharpies. We created a blended pastel background and a painted planet with craters and mountains that displayed shadows and highlights with white and black. I will share photos when I can! Thanks for the inspiration!
    Sherri Cline
    Elementary Art Teacher
    (in my 2nd year)

    • Patty

      This sounds way better than just a plain white background. Thanks for the tip. Next time I do this project, I’ll add crators, etc.

  • Lisa

    I do this art project, but when they fold the paper in half, have the students write their names
    on the fold. Then they cut out their names, and when they open the paper back up, it’s an amazingly
    creative …. whatever they want. They then decorate their creation with crayons, deciding which end is up – for their ‘Name Bugs’. It makes a great bulletin board.

    • Patty

      Yes, I’ve seen projects that do this. It’s so cool and would make a perfect lesson for the beginning of the year. Thanks for sharing!

  • Carie

    I love your website! I volunteer and teach art at my kids’ elementary school (they have no formal art or music anymore…=(.

    I’ve done several of your projects, and really appreciate your clear instructions and pictures. I am not a certified art teacher, so you’ve made it easy for us ‘regular’ people!

    Tomorrow, I’ll be doing the aliens with my son’s 3rd grade class. Can’t wait!

    • Patty Palmer

      Thanks Carie! This site was made with teachers like you in mind. Im so thankful you find it helpful. Have fun with this lesson!

      • Carie

        They loved doing the aliens! These kids are so creative…trying to figure out a way to share the picture I took! Thanks again for posting your ideas. =)

        • Carie

          Okay, so I did the aliens with 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grade. WOW! I am so impressed on their very, very creative aliens. In fact, 5th grade did such a great job, that their teacher is turning it into a writing assignment…they get to tell their aliens story, and then attach it to the bottom of their picture.

          Thanks again for all your lessons. I love browsing to see what project we’ll be doing next!!!

  • Danielle

    As a music teacher that is now teaching art for the first time, I really appreciate all of these projects you have on this site! I have always loved art, but I never thought I would end up having to teach it. Finding ideas on your site has made it so much easier to teach basic ideas like emphasis or symmetry. Kids like them and can get pretty silly when creating. I plan to try this this week with my 2nd graders. I think they will have a blast creating an alien, especially on Halloween!

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