Are You the Art Substitute? Lesson Plans For Every Grade Level

Are You the Art Substitute? Lesson Plans For Every Grade Level
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Illustrate the Story

The teacher will read a chapter or short passage from a story or a short story. Story content can be modified depending on age group-although older students do enjoy hearing children’s stories. After the reading, students can do one of the following:

  • Draw what happens next
  • Draw their favorite part of the story
  • Design a book cover for the story

Materials & supplies depend on the age group and class time allotted. For example, high school students could draw a few mini sketches, then a final, full sized sketch, and then complete a drawing. Younger children could draw in pencil and color in crayon.

Drawing Swap

This art substitute lesson plan requires a brief pre-activity discussion with students about respecting each other’s work.

Students Design Images

Using a timer or classroom clock, have the students start drawing a picture based on a predetermined theme. Some examples could be: summer, at the circus, the beach, in my backyard. After a set period of time, have them switch papers with another student. The next student looks at the drawing and adds on to it. After a little bit longer period of time to draw, the students again switch papers. After a few more times, the students return the paper to the original artist who finishes up.

At the end, the teacher can collect papers and share the drawings with the class if there is time.

Design a T-Shirt

Have sheets of white paper photocopied with a blank t-shirt outline. Give one to each student and ask them to design their own shirt based on a predetermined theme or idea based on age level. Some ideas:

  • Favorite band
  • Logo
  • School mascot
  • Favorite animal
  • Art festival
  • County fair design
  • Family logo/crest

For younger children, if they complete a t-shirt design, have them draw the person wearing the shirt by adding arms, legs, etc.

Multi-Season Landscape

Have students fold a sheet of white paper in half. They will draw a landscape twice, once on each half of the paper, but they will draw the landscape as it would appear in two different seasons. They can make use of warm and cool colors and add interesting details.

Complete the Drawing I & II

  1. Recycle those old magazines lying around the artroom. Students will select an image that is visually appealing to them. They will cut the

    Magazine Art

    picture in half & glue it to an 8x10 sheet of paper. With pencil, they will draw the other half of the image, paying attention to details, light & dark.

  2. Students each receive a 1x1 cut out from a photocopy of a drawing. This requires the teacher to collect, photocopy, and cut up images prior to the lesson. Detailed black and white ink drawings, old childrens book illustrations, and vintage prints work the best for this activity. Students will glue the 1x1 image onto their paper and draw a picture incorporating the drawing techniques from their cut out. (cross-hatching, stippling, shading, etc)

Still Life

If all else fails, there is always the still life! For this art substitute lesson plan, find and assemble random classroom objects into an interesting composition. Have students move their desks to an area of the still life that interests them. Besides drawing what they see, students could also:

  • Fold their paper into four. Draw four different areas of the still life in each square.
  • Draw a section of the still life, filling up their whole paper. Fold their paper in half and color one half of the still life.
  • Fold their paper into four. Draw a section of the still life, filling up the whole paper. In each square, students should shade/color/fill in their image with a different technique or style. Examples include: warm colors, cool colors, crosshatching, blending, positive/negative shape/space emphasis, etc.


Still not feeling confident about being an art substitute? Lesson plans still make you nervous? Use these websites to incorporate art terms or words into puzzles you can print & photocopy.

Discovery Puzzlemaker

Free Online Puzzlemaker

Personal Educational Press