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Teacher showing simple memorial day art and craft of a poppy.

Memorial Day Art and Craft Activity for Elementary Students

Directed Drawings, Drawing

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Memorial Day Art and Craft

A Memorial Day art and craft is a great activity to do leading up to Memorial Day, or up here in Canada, Remembrance Day. It is an important time for students to learn about peace and history. 

Doing a simple art activity enables students some time to reflect about stories they have heard while engaging in art. 

I love to read A Child’s Garden: A Story of Hope by Michael Foreman. It is a beautiful story about a boy who cares for a plant in a war torn country. The illustrations are black and white with just the images of hope in color. The images bring great discussion about art style. 

Teacher showing simple memorial day art and craft of a poppy.
Simple Memorial Day art and Craft for Elementary Students

There are so many beautiful stories, songs and art projects to do at this time of year. When you are short on time drawing a simple poppy is a great way to bring art and reflection to your classroom. This project could be done with Grades K-5.

How to Draw a Poppy Easy

I made simple instructions on how to draw a poppy easy. If you are interested in checking out these FREE instructions featured in this blog post click here: Poppy Flower Step by Step

The poppy is a beautiful flower. The bold red of the poppy contrasts with the lush green of the stem. It is a delicate flower that makes a beautiful Memorial Day art and craft. 

Poppy Flower Step by Step

Here is how to draw a poppy flower step by step. Before you begin, remember to print out the starter step for students. Having the first step will help them with perspective and to make their poppy drawing large enough. These steps are also printable in the free resource.

You can either read out the instructions to students or have them observe from the printed visual or written instructions.

Step 1: Print out the starter step.

Step 2: Draw a curve for the bottom of the petal. Next, draw two lines going up from each side of the semi-circle.

Step 3: Complete the 2 side petals. Then, add a small “V” shape above the semi-circle. Add a stem.

Step 4: Finish the 2 back petals. Next, add a deep “U” shape beside the first flower.

Step 5: Finish the unopened poppy and add a stem.

Step 6: Add details to the centers of your poppy.

How to draw a poppy step by step.
Follow simple steps to draw a poppy flower step by step.

Remembrance Day Art Lesson

To finish up the Remembrance Day art lesson, follow some simple steps to take the drawing to a finished piece. It is the start of the year and it is important to slowly build art skills, as the year progresses students will be able to focus on their artwork for longer periods of time.

Trace the Poppy With a Permanent Marker

After students have completed their poppy flower step by step, it is time to finish the art piece. Have students trace their poppy with a black permanent marker. This will help their drawings stand out from the background and to show up from a distance, if you are putting the artwork on display. 

Poppy flower traced with black marker.
Tracing the poppy flower with a marker can help it stand out from the background.

After the poppy is traced, have students erase any obvious pencil lines that they do not want to show through. Do not make students erase all the pencil lines. Trying to erase all the pencil lines can be overwhelming for younger students and sometimes cause them to accidentally bend or tear their paper from erasing too hard. Have them focus on erasing just the bold lines and the faint ones will disappear when it is colored.

For the remembrance day art lesson blend colors to finish poppy.
Provide students with scraps of paper to practice blending colors before coloring their poppy.

Examine Photos of Poppies

Look at pictures of real poppies so students can see what these flowers look like. This is a great opportunity to talk about the variety of colors that can be used to color. Check out these beautiful photographs: Poppy Photos

Have students look closely and see where petals change color. Next, discuss how each petal has several shades of reds and pinks blended together. Some students like to have a scrap paper beside their work area for them to test colors on.

3 beautiful poppy photographs used for color reference.
Examine photographs of poppies for inspiration and to use for color reference

Give students lots of time to color their poppies with pencil crayon. Play some classical music while they work. Walk around the room and comment on where you see that they have blended colors well. Encourage students and celebrate their work.

Often students can be easily disappointed as their coloring did not turn out how they imagined. Celebrate the fact that art is unpredictable. Teach students to embrace their mistakes, love the unexpected, and to remind them that each time they draw they are developing their skill. 

If students are struggling with a particular concept, reteach them how to blend colors, or help them fix a drawing stroke. Guide students in developing their art skills. We all need to erase certain strokes and retry, this is part of the learning.

Collage or Painted background

A collage background is a beautiful way to finish off an art piece. Students can paste their finished poppy in the foreground. They could also do a simple wash on a separate paper and then cut and paste their poppy drawing on top. Both create stunning results with very different looks! 

Paint: 

If using paint, keep it simple with one or 2 colors for the background. This will help their poppies stand out and will keep materials simple. Look at a color wheel and talk about which colors are on the opposite side of the wheel. Print a color wheel here: Color Wheel. These colors will create a greater contrast with the red of the poppy. An orange or pink background may be too close to the red of the poppy, but a blue or purple will stand out. If you are looking for a fun way to incorporate nature and learn about the color wheel check out Penny Whitehouse’s Blog for a free Nature Color Wheel Lesson.

Green is on the opposite side, but the stem is also green so students may want to pick a blue or purple. Alternatively they could pick green that is different from the one they used on the stem.

Collage: 

Use old magazines, or books as the background. It is fun to mix in bits of tissue paper or construction paper too! 

Writing Prompts 1st Graders

If you are looking for writing prompts 1st graders, I created some simple worksheets that students can use that accompany this Memorial Day art and craft. 

Writing prompts come with simple word banks to teach students new vocabulary to go along with a variety of seasonal themes. 

Directed drawing and word bank paired together for day of the dead activity.
Directed drawings can be a great addition to writing prompts.

I began designing simple directed drawings that young students could follow independently and feel successful. As teachers, we are so busy. I wanted to create a way that students could learn to draw without it taking me a long time to prep each day. 

We draw lots of different things in my classroom: seahorses, sharks, even the lifecycle of a jellyfish! As students draw new things they build their confidence and see that they are capable artists. They learn to observe, see simple shapes within the drawing, and break images down into smaller actionable steps.

To check out the Writing prompts click here: 

Good Song for Memorial Day

We draw poppies for Remembrance Day (or Veteran’s Day). My dad taught music in Elementary School during his teaching career and wrote this song. If you’re looking for a good song for Memorial Day, check it out: We Remember.

Kid Directed Drawing

Kid directed Drawings are so fun and an important part of our art program. I began designing simple directed drawings that young students could follow independently and feel successful. As teachers, we are so busy. I wanted to create a way that students could learn to draw without it taking me a long time to prep. 

We draw lots of different things in my classroom: seahorses, sharks, even the lifecycle of a jellyfish! As students draw new things they build their confidence and see that they are capable artists. They learn to observe, see simple shapes within the drawing, and break images down into smaller actionable steps. 

To read more about the importance of Directed Drawings check out my blog: Why Directed Drawings for First Grade is so Important.

A selection of simple directed drawings, sugar skull, hibernating bear, and hot chocolate.
Directed drawing can have a positive impact on building confidence in young artists.

Creative Ways to Use Directed Drawings

I love seeing children’s artwork when it is done mindfully. With a few simple strategies, a directed drawing lesson can go from a quick unfinished sketch on a piece of paper to a beautifully finished piece, a 3D project, or a collection of beautiful sketches documenting progress through collected images over time. 

To read more about the different ways we transform Directed Drawings read my blog post: Directed Draw for Kids: 5 Creative Ways to Use Them

I hope you found this Memorial Day art and craft useful. I hope you have lots of fun drawing festive fall things in your classroom with your students! If you are looking for simple directed drawings to use with your students check out my other fall resources here:

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