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6 Art Project Ideas on a Shoestring Budget

A Guide for Teachers


A thumbnail that reads "Creative Art Lessons for grades 6-10"

Art is a vital part of any school curriculum -- it promotes creativity and imaginative thinking that’s necessary for any student to learn. However, it’s no secret that art can be expensive. Traditional art materials can rack up a hefty price, and sometimes there isn’t enough within your budget for it all. But don’t worry, there are many ways you can continue to create high quality artwork with affordable and economical materials. Here are some fun and creative art project ideas that you can create with your class on a shoestring budget!



Collage Landscape Art



Landscape art is often taught with acrylic paints and watercolour, but that can get pricey and messy pretty quickly. While you could teach this digitally as well (since digital art is more affordable to work with than you might think), it may be more fun to use old magazines and newspaper clippings to create landscapes instead!



Found Objects Colour Wheel


A colour wheel made of found objects

If you have younger students, introducing the colour wheel to them can get boring. Make it fun by having a scavenger hunt! Instead of colouring in a blank colour wheel, skip the pencil crayons altogether and have them hunt for objects that match the corresponding colours. Have them arrange their objects in the correct order, and submit a photo as their final piece. Whether you have them hunt around the classroom, at home or outdoors, it’ll get your students moving and engaged!



Graphite Flipbook


A gif of a flipbook. the animation is a ball bouncing

Flipbooks are a fun and simple way to introduce your students to animation, while also remaining very inexpensive! The best part is that a flipbook can be illustrated with just a pencil and eraser. HB pencils are very cheap to get in bulk, and even then, students most likely have their own. You won’t even need fancy paper -- GOOS paper or just regular printer paper should work fine. If your students are much younger, you may need to create their flipbooks for them.


Upcycled Robot


A robot made of recycled materials

Have your students bring in 1-3 pieces of recycled material into class from home. They can be anything from newspaper to toilet paper rolls to old food containers (that should be thoroughly washed). Have some recycled material ready just in case a student or two doesn’t bring something in. Together as a class, you can all create one large robot made entirely out of recycled materials! This project will make a great display that you can have in the classroom, and will help promote creativity and group work.



Digital Geometric Self-Portrait

A simple digital self portrait

Not only is digital art cheap, you don’t even need a drawing tablet to do it! These portraits can be done with just a mouse and keyboard since you only need to make straight lines and geometric shapes. Students can copy and paste a photo of themselves into their program and can trace on top of them, or create a simple and stylized portrait using simple shapes. They’ll focus on colour, lighting and value to make their portrait readable with less detail! This project can also be done as a traditional collage with construction paper if you don’t have the digital means. However, creating this digitally is highly recommended since there are tons of high quality digital art programs available for free!



Artists’ Takeout Container


A pizza box inspired by Tim Burton
A pizza box inspired by Tim Burton!

What would a takeout container look like if it was designed by Van Gogh? What about Kusama? Students can take a container from their recycling bin (pizza box, styrofoam takeout container, etc.), and will design the container in the style of an artist from history! Have them create a company name and logo themed around their historical artist and any other designs that they wish to add to the container. They can work in any medium of choice, but you can stick to mediums as simple as pencil crayons!



Upcycled Bird Feeders



Have your students bring in an old drink bottle/carton and any other recycled materials that they may want to use. Have some ready just in case students forget or don’t bring in their own. Using the cartons, students can create their own bird feeders that can be hung in their own homes! Use white glue or tape to assemble your bird feeders, or hot glue if your students are a little older.



If you’d like more free resources for your classroom, check out our resources for teachers section on our blog! Be sure to also check out our Teachers Pay Teachers page, which is full of worksheets and lesson plans that you can use for your class!


Any teacher now can facilitate world-class visual art lessons — even with no art experience! Get our art courses designed for classrooms, complete with step by step video lessons, assessment tools and handouts you can use every year.


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