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Back To School Art Projects: Fresh Art Activities For Elementary and Junior High Classrooms

written by: Laura Powell • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 9/11/2012

If you're looking for some new back to school art projects kids can make and which you can do with your students, look no further! Elementary and junior high teachers read on to find a few activities that will bring out the imagination in your students!

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    Art Activities For the First Weeks Of School

    One of the things I love about writing for Bright Hub is that I get to come up with creative projects, and share them! If you're an elementary or junior high teacher looking for a few new ideas to use in your classroom, you've come to the right place. As you make your lesson plans for the first weeks of school, you will want to plan some activities that help the students express themselves creatively. Here are five art projects for different age levels.

    MAKE CLASSROOM MAILBOXES This project is designed for the elementary grade level. By using empty oatmeal containers, students can design personal mailboxes to hold papers throughout the year. Supplies needed are listed below.


    • Empty Oatmeal Containers
    • Construction Paper or Contact Paper
    • Glue (if using construction paper)
    • Markers, crayons, stickers, and other items for decorating


    1. Send home a note a few weeks in advance, asking that students bring in an empty oatmeal container.
    2. Once all the containers are brought in, lay out all the decorating items for all the students' access.
    3. Have the students use the contact paper to cover the containers, or use the construction paper and glue, wrapping the paper around the container.
    4. Decorate the containers.
    5. Staple the containers together to form a block of mailboxes. Write the students names on the bottom of each container.
    6. This forms a group of mailboxes you can use to put their classroom papers in, little notes to the students, or other forms of communication.


    This project works well for any class, elementary or junior high. In this activity the students will be decorating personal hall passes. They would use these passes when they need to go to the bathroom. After they ask to go to the bathroom, or travel in the hallway, they would leave their pass in a pre-determined spot in the room, where you as the teacher could easily see it. You are always aware of who is gone from the classroom because of this pass. Once the student returns he/she puts the pass back to a pre-assigned bin where you'd keep all the passes, or in his/her desk.


    • Foam Boards (obtainable at any craft store, or Wal-mart)
    • Foam decorations (available in the same area as the foam boards, these can come in kits with the boards and the decorations for about $6.00 for 23 boards and 600 decorations)
    • Glitter glue, stickers, permanent markers or other decorations


    1. Pass out a foam board to each student, and lay out decorating materials in an area for group use.
    2. Have the students use the decorations to create a personal hall-pass with their first name and last initial on the pass.
    3. Explain the use of the pass and where it will be stored.


    This activity is good for all age levels! In this art project students are designing their ideal classroom space. This is a really easy project to coordinate and very enjoyable for students, bringing out the imagination in all of them!


    • White paper (can be large white paper, or 9 x 13)
    • Markers, crayons or colored pencils


    1. Explain to the students that they are designing their ideal classroom. This classroom can be as fun and imaginative as they want it to be. Possibly give the students some prompts, like what type of classroom pet would they have? Where would it live in their classroom? What type of electronic gadgets would their classroom have? Would there be a computer area? A reading area? A sleeping area? Vending machines? Etc.
    2. Pass out paper to each student and have them design what their favorite classroom would look like.
    3. You would probably want to display their results for everyone to see, and you may want to pick one really creative one to feature in a school or classroom newsletter.

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    To Grade Or Not To Grade?

    With all three projects, I would suggest leaving them ungraded. The purpose of the projects vary, but two of the three help with classroom organization. The other project, designing an ideal classroom, also could be ungraded because you could pick out the most creative ones to feature in a classroom or school newsletter, which is a better than an 'A' grade! The fun of creating should be reward enough in the case of these projects!

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    Image Credit

    Mailbox Image: From Wikimedia Commons: "Mailbox US in the shade.jpg" Source: Rootology