Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Every artist was first an amateur.” That’s why it’s so important to expose kids to plenty of artistic styles and concepts early in life. The more they experience now, the more inspired they’ll be as they grow. We have compiled some of the best 3rd grade art projects that utilize a variety of media, from paint and pastels to clay and collage. Some of the projects are based on famous artists or art movements and therefore provide an opportunity for an art history lesson as well! There’s so much here to inspire young artists.
1. Grow a garden of Georgia O’Keeffe flowers
O’Keeffe’s big brilliant blooms are very accessible for kids. Paint enormous flowers in a variety of colors and mount them on contrasting backgrounds for a gorgeous display.
Learn more: Georgia O’Keeffe Flowers at Paintbrush Rocket
2. Paint watercolor winter landscapes
Capture the gorgeous colors of a winter sunset with this 3rd grade art project. Painting on cardboard pizza rounds makes it extra fun!
Learn more: Watercolor Winter Landscapes at Cassie Stephens
3. Create African masks
Teach children about the history of African masks and their uses in ceremonies, then let them create their own masks that are meaningful to them. Provide many different types of materials so kids can really personalize their masks.
Learn more: African Masks at ecokidsart.com
4. Make mixed-media jellyfish
First, kids create a gradient background and add paint-spatter bubbles. Then, they use chalk and oil pastels for the jellyfish and seaweed. Things really are better under the sea!
Learn more: Jelly Fish Art Project at Deep Space Sparkle
5. Draw Popsicles with chalk
Teach your students about value, then have them create these Popsicles using Crayola chalk on black card stock. Let your students pick light and dark shades of a color to use on their Popsicles.
Learn more: 3rd Grade Popsicles with Values at Art Teacher in LA
6. Use dots to paint aboriginal-style animals
Explore the history of Australian aboriginal art, then create some of your own. The results of this 3rd grade art project are truly impressive.
Learn more: Australian Aboriginal Dot Art at The Artsy Fartsy Art Room
7. Paint with salt
First, have students create a design on paper using Elmer’s Glue. Then, have them pour salt over the paper and clean the excess salt off. Finally, have them dip a paintbrush into watercolor paint and watch as their designs come to life!
Learn more: How To Make Raised Salt Paintings at The Artful Parent
8. Add cotton steam to 3D mugs
Cotton batting adds such a cool detail to these colorful mugs. Use oil pastels and the watercolor resist method to create the background and mug pattern.
Learn more: 3D Winter Mugs at Art With Mrs. Filmore
9. Learn to add dimension with watercolor donuts
Use jar lids in two different sizes to draw donut shapes. Then, fill them in with watercolors, using different shades to add depth.
Learn more: 3rd Grade Donuts at Color It Like You Mean It!
10. Teach perspective with 3D letters
Kids love drawing bubble letters so why not use it as an opportunity to teach one-point perspective?
Learn more: 3D Letters in One-Point Perspective at How To Draw Step by Step Drawing Tutorials
11. Paint trees from a new vantage point
This is another lesson in one-point perspective. Have your students use a Q-tip to create dots for leaves. Be sure to have them make the dots smaller as they get closer to the top since those leaves are farther away.
Learn more: One-Point Perspective Trees at Beverly Gurganus Fine Art and Home
12. Weave two paintings together
“You want me to cut up my paintings?” Students may be surprised at the instructions, but once they weave the two together, they’ll be wowed by the results.
Learn more: Weaving Paper at The Kitchen Table Classroom
13. Handwrite and create cursive bugs
Third graders are often working to perfect their cursive writing, so that makes this project a great fit. Have kids write their name and mirror it below. Then, add colors and details to turn it into a cute name bug.
Learn more: Cursive Name Bugs at tinyartroom.wordpress.com
14. Use mixed media to create owls or other animals
Although this project will take a week to complete, the end result will be worth it! First, teach about artist Jackson Pollock and create splatter paintings. Then rip them into triangular shapes that will be glued to a piece of card stock to form the owl’s head. Once these steps are finished, have your students paint the eyes and beaks. Finally, put everything together.
Learn more: Animal Collage Art Lesson at mamalife.love
15. Sculpt fantastic clay birds
Start by having your 3rd grade art students dream up the bird they’d like to sculpt. Then pull out the clay and get to work!
Learn more: 3rd Grade Clay Birds at Art Room Blog
16. Copy Kandinsky’s squares and circles
Show your 3rd graders Kandinsky’s famous circles in squares, then have them create their own. Grab this spooky tree template at the link below.
Learn more: Spooky Tree Kandinsky Inspired Art at Arty Crafty Kids
17. Draw a portrait of Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou once said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Pair an ELA lesson with this art lesson and read some of Angelou’s poetry while your students color their portraits.
Learn more: How To Draw Maya Angelou at Art Projects for Kids
18. Trace and color your hand
You’ll only need simple supplies for this 3rd grade art project. Kids trace their hands, then use markers to make lines, adding small arcs to create the illusion of 3D. It seems simple, but students will really have to concentrate as they work.
Learn more: Illusional-Delusional Hand Art at Candice Ashment Art
19. Color hands with warm and cool colors
Here’s another take on a hand-tracing project. In this one, students learn about warm and cool colors and use those contrasts to make striking pieces that feature their own hands.
Learn more: Warm and Cool Hands at Art With Mrs. Hurley
20. Explore identity with these self-portraits
Teach your students about Frida Kahlo and her self-portraits, and then have them create their own! Have them include at least six personal symbols.
Learn more: Self-Portraits With Personal Symbols at Art With Mrs. Filmore
21. Sketch mesmerizing mandalas
Students use a compass to create concentric circles and patterns with radial symmetry. Then they choose markers or colored pencils to color them in.
Learn more: Mandalas at Art Is Basic
22. Paste together collage bugs
Collages are always a hit with kids, so we love this version where kids use paper scraps to craft colorful insects. Combine it with a science lesson to expand the learning.
Learn more: Bug Collage Project at Art Projects for Kids
23. Practice lines with a fun hair-redo
Before beginning this fun 3rd grade art project, you will need to take a digital photo of each of your students. Once the photos have been printed, have them cut their hair off of it. Finally, practice different types of lines as your students create crazy and fun hairstyles for themselves!
Learn more: Bad Hair Days at Wahoo for Art!
24. Finish the picture
This is such a cool project! Provide kids with a selection of scenes cut from magazines. They choose one, then draw or paint the rest of the picture around it. They can keep it realistic or use their imagination to jazz things up.
Learn more: Finish the Picture at Art With Mrs. Filmore
25. Include goals in your art
Before painting, have your students lay painter’s tape across their canvas to create different shapes. Then, have them splatter paint across their page. Once dry, peel the tape off to reveal white areas in the artwork. Finally, have your students fill in the blank spaces with goals or positive attributes.
Learn more: Inspirational Splatter Paint Art Project for Kids at Buggy and Buddy
26. Add a cityscape to Starry Night skies
Van Gogh’s Starry Night series is one of his most famous. In this 3rd grade art mashup, kids paint a starry night background, then glue black construction paper skyscrapers over the top.
Learn more: 3rd Grade Starry Night Cityscapes at Elements of the Art Room
27. Draw something out of this world
This project incorporates mixed media as well as several different processes. We love how much variety there will be in your students’ finished pieces since there are a lot of opportunities in this project for individuality.
Learn more: Outer Space Artwork for Kids at Art Is Basic
28. Build Ton Schulten–style cityscapes
Ton Schulten paints landscapes using bright blocks of color. This is an easy concept for kids to try, and the results are vivid and joyful.
Learn more: Ton Schulten Cityscapes at Paintbrush Rockets
29. Design a beaded snowflake
This is the perfect art project to do during those long winter months. Supplies are minimal since all you will need are pipe cleaners, some string, and a large assortment of beads.
Learn more: Beaded Snowflake at firstpalette.com
30. Get inspired by nature
While this project would be harder to do during the winter, some store-bought flowers could help with that. If you’re doing this project in the spring or fall, bring your students for a nature walk to collect their own found media!
Learn more: Easy, Fun, DIY Activities You Can Do With Your Kids at Petit and Small
31. Chalk still-life compositions like Cézanne
Explore the style of Paul Cézanne, then have students try creating still lifes of their own. Use oil pastels to create the look of visible brushstrokes.
Learn more: Cezanne Still-Lifes: 3rd Grade! at Young Art Love
32. Color birch trees and add cardinals
Get step-by-step instructions at the link to help your 3rd grade art students make this fun pop art birch tree scene. Cut out and add the red cardinals last.
Learn more: Birch Birds at The Lost Sock
33. Cut and curve colorful lines
First color a series of thick and thin marker lines. Then cut them into strips and create colorful curves.
Learn more: Moving Lines at Amazing Art Adventures
34. Fill in hexagon honeycombs
Use a hexagon template to draw the honeycomb, then shade it in with oil pastels. Cut out and add some bees on top to finish it off.
Learn more: Beautiful 3rd Grade Bee Hives at Elements of the Art Room
35. Put together Matisse collages
First, color squares of paper with tempera paint. Then, cut out free-flowing organic shapes and paste them together into a collage, just like Henri Matisse did.
Learn more: Matisse-Inspired Collages at Art With Mrs. Filmore
36. Mold sweet ceramic flowers
Kids love getting their hands on some clay. These pretty flowers are accented with frogs, butterflies, and bugs for a special touch.
Learn more: In the Art Room: Ceramic Flowers With Third Grade at Cassie Stephens
37. Draw symmetrical patterns
Have students draw symmetrical patterns, then fill each half with contrasting cool and warm tones.
Learn more: Symmetrical Warm and Cool Compositions at Art Muse 67
38. Tuck textured tigers into a forest collage
Start by having students create textured prints in orange paint. Turn those into tigers, then surround them with paper leaves and flowers in a forest of the night, inspired by Henri Rousseau’s well-known Tiger in a Tropical Storm.
Learn more: 3rd Grade Painted Paper Tiger Collage at Elements of the Art Room
39. Discover tints and shades with ice cream
Artists create tints by mixing colors with white and shades by mixing colors with black. Try out some paint mixing with your 3rd grade art students by creating these yummy ice cream cones.
Learn more: 3rd Grade Tint/Shade Ice Cream Cones at aschukei.blogspot.com
40. Snack on papier-mâché ice cream cones
Speaking of ice cream, how adorable are these papier-mâché triple-scoop cones? Kids will really have a blast putting these together.
Learn more: Super-Delicious Paper-mache Ice Cream Cones at plbrown.blogspot.com
41. Fold pop-up Van Gogh chairs
Take a look at Vincent van Gogh’s chair paintings, then challenge students to create pop-up chairs that reflect their own personalities.
Learn more: Van Gogh Chairs at Mrs. O’Connell’s Art Room
42. Pose paper chickens
Add folded paper strips to a papier-mâché chicken, stand it tall on its skinny legs, and admire your creation!
Learn more: 3rd Grade Chicken Sculptures at greenbayartroom.blogspot.com
43. Transfer sugar skulls to foil
Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead with colorful sugar skulls. Re-create them with super-cool texture and shine with this fun aluminum foil project.
Learn more: Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Drawings at Art With Mrs. Filmore
44. Paint some Jim Dine–inspired hearts
Students often learn about Andy Warhol in school, but why not teach them about other pop artists like Jim Dine? Inspired by his painting The Confetti Heart, this project would make for a nice Valentine’s Day gift!
Learn more: Pop Art for Kids: Painted Heart Inspired by Jim Dine at Woo! Jr. Kids Activities
45. Paint folk art–inspired trees
This project packs a big punch since it teaches about line, pattern, shape, and painting technique. And it can be completed in a single class!
Learn more: Winter Folk Art Trees at Deep Space Sparkle
46. Collage like Picasso
First, introduce your students to Pablo Picasso and some of his more famous works including the painting Weeping Woman. Then, encourage them to use different shapes and colors to create a self-portrait collage.
Learn more: How To Make Picasso Collages for Kids at The Artful Parent
47. Create a simple comic strip
Kids in 3rd grade love to read comics or graphic novels like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Dog Man, so have them create their own. A simple version is shown in this video: Fold a paper into thirds and create a beginning, middle, and end.
48. Grow paper flowers
There is something so whimsical and sweet about these eight-petal paper flowers. Have a variety of paper available in different colors and patterns so students can really get into personalizing them.
Learn more: Folding Paper Flowers at firstpalette.com
49. Fly away with these folk art birds
Before doing this project, introduce your students to the “folk art” movement and provide them with examples in that style. Then let them get creative as they put their newfound knowledge to the test making their own folk art birds!
Learn more: 3rd Grade Folk Art Birds at Annie’s Art Room
50. Draw some wacky monsters
This is the perfect single-class art lesson for really any elementary school–age student, 3rd graders included. While students will follow some basic steps to create these cute and crazy monsters, there is still a lot of room for creativity and personalization.
51. Get inspired by Joan Miro
Begin with a quick lesson on Spanish artist Joan Miro, who was especially well known for the childlike quality of her art. Then let your students create their own Miro-inspired masterpieces using watercolors, markers, and crayons.
Learn more: Easy Joan Miro Art Project at Art Projects for Kids
52. Look into this surrealist lesson
Before doing the visual art lesson, begin with an art history lesson on the Surrealist movement and, in particular, Belgian artist René Magritte. Be sure to introduce them to his painting False Mirror, which shows clouds inside an eye. Then, let your students create a scene of their choosing inside the drawing of an eye.
53. Make bead mosaics
Teach your students about the rich history of mosaic art, which dates back to ancient times. Then, supply your students with a variety of beads and let them create their very own mosaics.
Learn more: Kids Craft: How To Make a Bead Mosaic at The Pretty Life Girls
54. Sculpt like Giacometti
Introducing sculpture to your 3rd grade students is important, and learning about one of the 20th century’s most influential sculptors, Alberto Giacometti, is a great way to get started. Once they’ve learned a bit about his style, they can try re-creating their own Giacometti-inspired sculptures using tinfoil.