Pet Valentines

Pet ValentinesWho do children love? Ask them – they will tell you they love their family and their pets. Why not make a valentine for your pet? Our second graders did just that – they created colorful pet valentine collages.


  • red construction paper or watercolor paper, 12″x18″
  • oil pastels
  • construction paper or painted paper, assorted colors, 6″x6″
  • pencils and erasers
  • scissors
  • glue sticks
  • black construction paper, 12″x18″, for mounting

Day 1:

Talk about pets. Tally up how many students have dogs, cats, snakes, hamsters, etc. Some students have a lot of pets and want to put them all on the valentine! Some students don’t have any pets. I told them to make a valentine for a ‘dream’ pet, or for a pet that belongs to a friend, neighbor or relative.

I passed out large hearts cut from red construction paper and and watercolor paper. Students colored the hearts with oil pastels, then used glue sticks to attach the hearts to black construction paper.

Day 2:

Students drew their animals on 6″x6″ colored construction paper or on the back of painted paper. I encouraged them to use large simple shapes. They cut out their animals and glued them to their hearts. They added details with scraps of colored paper and/or with oil pastel.

bird valentine

One student didn’t have a pet. He created a pet valentine for the bird in his backyard.

Second grade results:

Second grader pet valentine collages. Allow two 40-minute classes.

Second grader pet valentine collages. Allow two 40-minute classes.

Our second graders had a great time and were very proud of their artworks.

p.s. This can be a nice Eric Carle-inspired project if you use painted papers for the collage.


Do you have a favorite Valentine’s Day art project?

Kindergarten Cookie Collage

kindergarten cookie collage

Our kindergarteners just finished a fun paper cookie collage project. We used real cookie cutters as tracers to create our own paper cookies. Here’s one ‘cookie cutter art project’ you and your students will really enjoy.


  • large colorful paper plates, one per person
  • paper doilies, one per person
  • manila paper, 9″x12″
  • construction paper, light brown and dark brown, 9″x12″
  • cookie cutters in simple shapes (star, heart, bell, gingerbread men)
  • circle tracers (old lids)
  • pencil
  • construction paper crayons
  • optional: metallic crayons
  • glue stick
  • scissors

Kindergarteners trace real cookie cutters onto brown paper, decorate with construction paper crayons, and glue onto a paper plate. Allow 60 minutes.

The Art Project

Pass out brown papers and a variety of cutters for each table. Students trace a cutter, then swap cutters with their neighbors. We were able to fit about five large ‘cookies’ on each sheet of paper.

Decorate with ‘frosting’ (color with construction paper crayons).

Now get the paper plate ready. Rub glue stick all over the front of the plate, place doily on glue and pat down. Cut out the cookies and use glue sick to attach them to the doily. Overlapping is fine.

We added a few final decorations with metallic crayons.

The project was inspired by this post from ARTASTIC!

Connections to literature:

Mr. Cookie Baker by Monica Wellington is a nice book to read as an intro to the project.

What’ll I do differently next time:

  • Use embellishments (glitter, beads, yarn, etc.)
  • Have a ‘cookie exchange’ so kids can swap with a friend
  • Use a variety of colored paper plates and doilies
  • Adjust the project for Valentine’s Day (heart cutters, red plate) or Mother’s Day.


P.S. Want to see more food-related projects for kindergarten? Check out these Common Core-aligned lesson plans from San Diego’s New Children’s Museum.

Helen Shirk Silhouette Necklace

helen shirk pinable

Helen Shirk is a San Diego artist and Professor of Art known for her metalwork and jewelry. I recently had the pleasure of viewing necklaces from Shirk’s Traces series on exhibit at San Diego’s Mingei International Museum. Even better – I got to participate in a Shirk-inspired paper jewelry activity taught by the Museum’s Education Department. The art project is so much fun – I just have to share their lesson!


'Crimson Glory' necklace by Helen Shirk, 2011. Steel, oxidized silver and china paint.

‘Crimson Glory’ necklace by Helen Shirk, 2011. Steel, oxidized silver and china paint.

We had two options for our silhouette necklace project: 1) a quick, 30-minute project using paper punches or 2) an hour-long project using real traced leaves. Both options focus on organic shapes and repetition.

Materials for both projects

  • black construction paper
  • card stock
  • glue sticks
  • yarn
  • scissors
  • tape

Project 1: 30-minute Punched Paper Silhouette Necklace

Additional material – paper punches in organic shapes (like these leaf , branchbutterfly, and dove  punches).

We punched paper shapes from black and colored papers, then glued them to a background and added yarn to form a necklace. Click here and here for the lesson plan, written by the excellent Education Department of the Mingei International Museum.

Shirk inspired necklace made with craft punches and card stock.

Shirk-inspired necklace made with craft punches and card stock. Teacher example.

Here is my Shirk inspired design!

Here is my Shirk inspired design!


Project 2: Traced Silhouette Necklace

Additional material: natural materials such as leaves, twigs and flowers.

Students make tracings of each onto construction paper, then cut out and arrange into a necklace.  Click here for the Mingei’s curriculum guide including this project.

Hand cut paper necklace inspired by Helen Shirk's jewelry.

Shirk-inspired paper necklace made by tracing leaves onto black and white paper.  Teacher example.

Helen Shirk’s Trace necklaces are on display at the Mingei Museum through January 5, 2014 as part of the Allied Craftsmen Today exhibit. For more examples of Helen Shirk’s jewelry, click here.

I wrote about the Mingei’s Chihuly chandelier – click here to see their fabulous 30-Minute Chihuly Chandelier project.

Special Notice for San Diego Teachers and Parents:

  • Teachers: Do you want to take your class to the Mingei Museum? The Mingei provides free admission for all K-12th grade tours as long as they’re scheduled in advance.
  • Parents: The Mingei is free to San Diego county residents and military the third Tuesday of the month. Monthly Family Sundays offer admission and fun activities for just $5/family. Go to for more details.


40-Minute Poinsettia Tear Art Collage

40-minute poinsettia tear art collage

Do you want to create a poinsettia art project with little prep or clean up, in less than one hour? Try this fun tear art collage project.


  • colored construction paper, 9″x12″, one per student
  • red paper,  6″x9″, one per student
  • green paper, 6″x9″, one per student
  • yellow paper, 6″x9″, one per table
  • glue sticks

If possible, get some live poinsettias. I borrowed some from my colleagues and returned them at the end of the day.


We started off with a few poinsettia facts: the red ‘flower’ is called a bract. The bract is made of red leaves, NOT petals. Poinsettias are native to Mexico, where they are known as Noche Buena (‘Christmas Eve’).

Next students looked carefully at the poinsettias. We noticed the shape of the leaves, and had a quick review of organic vs. geometric shapes. We also noticed the red leaves were centered around a cluster of yellow dots. The red bract overlapped the green leaves. I pointed out that green and red are complementary colors.

Students observe poinsettias and create a collage using red and green paper.  Allow one 40-minute class.

Students observe poinsettias and create a collage using red and green paper. Allow one 40-minute class.

Creating the collage:

I modeled tearing. Students created odd numbers of red and green leaves, arranged them, then glued them to the 9″x12″ construction paper using a glue stick. We found out it was easier to glue the green leaves first. Students could place the red leaves over or in-between the green leaves. As a final touch, students could tear a few dots of yellow paper and glue them to the center of their paper poinsettias.

Second grade results:

Poinsettia tear art gallery - 2nd grade

Because we had live poinsettias on the tables, I encouraged students to hold up their torn shapes to the real leaves for comparison. They really enjoyed observing real plants, much more than working from a picture or from my example.

If you look carefully at our collages, you will see a white torn edge on the red and green papers. We used Fadeless Art Paper– it is colored on one side and white on the other.

I would love to use this technique to create a Van Gogh-inspired vase of sunflowers!


Do you have a favorite tear art project?

60-Minute Holiday Collagraph Crayon Rubbings

Textured curling ribbon tied in a bow looks great on this wrapped gift. The gingerbread man is trimmed in rick rack.

Textured curling ribbon tied in a bow looks great on this wrapped gift. The gingerbread man is trimmed in rick rack.

Need a fun and flexible holiday project? Try making you own collagraph crayon rubbings, using cardboard and scraps. The project takes about one hour and is adaptable to all sorts of holidays like Valentine’s Day and birthdays.


  • light cardboard, 8.5×11″, two per student
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • glue stick
  • textured fabric trim such as ribbons, rick rack and lace
  • optional: hole punch
  • optional: ‘wavy’ craft scissors (like these scallop Fiskars Paper Edgers)
  • copy paper 8.5×11″ or other thin paper
  • peeled crayons

Create the collagraph rubbing plate

Students drew one holiday shape on cardboard, then cut it out.

Students drew one holiday shape on cardboard, then cut it out.

Select one holiday shape for the main part of the collagraph. Draw the shape on the first piece of cardboard and cut it out (note: for those students creating their own designs, emphasize that the design needs to be simple and stretched to the top and bottom of the page).

Glue the cut-out shapes to the second piece of cardboard using glue stick. You have now created a collagraph rubbing plate.

Now for the fun!

Cut decorations for your collagraph plate from your cardboard scraps and from fabric trim. Experiment with the craft scissors and the hole punch. Glue these decorations on top of and around your main shape. LAYERING IS GOOD! TEXTURE IS GOOD!

Now flip over the collagraph plate and place it face down on your chair. SIT ON THE CARDBOARD AND COUNT TO 30.  (It is so fun to do this step!) Now all the pieces are glued down are we are ready to rub.

Santa hat and star, decorated with cardboard cut with Fiskar paper edgers.

Santa hat and star, decorated with cardboard cut with Fiskar paper edgers.

Creating the crayon rubbing

Place your collagraph face up on the table. Cover with the copy paper. Rub with a peeled crayon (note: it is helpful to have a partner hold the plate while the student rubs). Repeat with another crayon color.

Now trade collagraph rubbing plates with your neighbor. Or rotate tables so everyone comes away with a set of holiday cards.

This students glued lace to her tree for texture. She did two rubbings with green and magenta crayons.

This students glued lace to her tree for texture. She did two rubbings with green and magenta crayons.

This technique would make awesome cards for birthdays – imagine a collagraph layer cake with rick rack candles. Imagine a textured doily rubbing plate for Valentine’s Day cards.

If you want to take this project a step further, you can roll printer’s ink on the collagraph and pull some prints. You can also color or paint the collagraph plate so it become an artwork.

Want more ideas? Check out my previous post on 30-minute collagraph printmaking.



Do you have a fun way of making holiday cards?

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