Folk Art, Upper Elementary

Collaborative Papel Picado

As a substitute plan and follow-up to the lesson on papel picado, one fifth grade homeroom made huge cut-out designs using bulletin board paper. Each of the six tables of 5 to 6 students became one team. They were instructed to decide on their own what their design theme would be and how they would divide the work.

This lesson was done right before the big Michigan State versus University of Michigan game, so some students incorporated their preferred team into their design.

The center rectangle reads “Go Blue”
Other students got the idea to embellish their designs with shapes cut from construction paper

There was one more group that likewise added construction paper to their papel picado, but they wanted to take it with them immediately so I didn’t get a chance to photograph it. One other group wanted to gift theirs to the school principal, so I don’t have a photo of that one either. Still, the four that were left have been decorating the art room since!

Holiday, Lower Elementary

Expression Pumpkins

‘Tis the season for jack-o-lanterns!

For this project, lower-elementary students had to draw facial expressions on pumpkins. First, we talked about how different emotions register on our faces. For example, our eyes go wide and mouths hang open when surprised, while our eyebrows come down, shadowing our eyes when angry.

A second grader’s surprised pumpkin


Another student made a ferocious vampire pumpkin. Bold strokes of color make it seem like it’s coming to get you!


In the spirit of Halloween, eventually even Frankenpumpkins emerged. This one also seems to be part vampire, part Twitter beast?!


A Hulk Frankenpumpkin! This student imagined an elaborate backstory to explain her jack-o-lantern’s expression

Improvisation was the name of the game when the third graders got their turn. There happened to be some beads and feathers left out from the previous class’s weaving projects, which the students added to their expression pumpkins for some impromptu collage-making! Others set the mood through color and texture.

A bemused pumpkin with sequins for blushing cheeks


Fearsome yet fashionable!


The perfect Halloween combination of friendly and creepy! This student created a textured sky by coloring with the crayon on its side.

This is the jack-o-lantern I colored to serve as an example:

*Gasp!* Some students said this pumpkin looked scared or surprised.

The first graders had colored jack-o-lanterns with pre-drawn faces, but that didn’t stop us from imagining what the pumpkins’ expressions would be on All Hallow’s Eve.