First graders love to create things on their own, so first grade crafts should be simple, fun, yet imaginative. At this developmental stage, children should be able to independently:

  • Use a paintbrush
  • Color in large areas within the lines
  • Understand lines and geometric shapes
  • Cut out objects relatively close to the lines
  • Follow directed line drawings

Skills they are working on developing include: 

  • Coloring in smaller details within the lines
  • Developing sculpting skills with clay or paper-mache
  • Adding details to a painting or drawing
  • Learning the difference between primary and secondary colors

The first grade crafts featured in this article focus on these skills while promoting creativity and fun for students. 

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What Can Kids Make Easily With Paper?

At this age, a lot of crafts involve making things with paper. After having each step modeled, then given directions, first graders should be able to make most paper crafts independently. 

A popular craft that has many variations is to cut out geometric shapes, arrange and paste them together into a new object. Children can create a garden with grass, trees, and flowers, or they can arrange their shapes into a funny face or a jack-o-lantern. This is where a child’s creativity and unique sense of style can be expressed by using unconventional shapes and colors for flowers or parts of the face. 

Another fun craft using paper is to create a spider or another creature by folding strips of paper accordian style to create “spider legs,” then cut out a black circle or paint a paper plate black (or a color of the child’s choosing) and glue the legs on. Paste on googly eyes or eyes cut out from construction paper. Children can take the skills and techniques used in this project and transfer them to other art projects too. 

In partnership with Teach Simple, whose marketplace is full of educational materials created by actual teachers (plus 50% of all revenues go to them), I’ve gathered 17 high interest, engaging arts-and-crafts that first graders will love. This collection of first grade crafts address age appropriate fine motor skills for first graders as well as crafts that can be used to support other topics they are learning in class or at home. 

Best First Grade Crafts

The best crafts allow for creativity and have a purpose. 

Shapes to Cut: Animals

This craft activity has simple cutouts with round edges and thick lines that allow first graders to successfully cut them out and work on their fine motor skills. The shapes can be cut out on colored paper and can also be used to support lessons or stories about animals. Students can even create and tell or write their own stories about the animals they cut out. Shapes to Cut requires little prep, just the shapes printed on colored or white paper. 

Q-Tip Painting: Letters & Numbers

This Q-Tip painting activity has children use a Q-Tip as a paintbrush to paint designs on each letter and number. Pinch gripping the Q-Tip strengthens the hand muscles and develops the fine motor skills needed for writing with a pencil. 

Printing the worksheet on heavier paper is recommended for best results. All that is needed to do this activity is a  Q-tip, paint, and the letter/number sheets. 

Cut and Create! Transportation

In this activity, first graders will cut out various shapes and put them together to create a vehicle. This activity can be used to support a story or lesson from class, turned into a mobile of different vehicles, or used as classroom decor. 

Besides developing fine motor skills, each activity teaches ordering and spatial relationships. Materials include paper to print out the shapes, glue, scissors, string (if making a mobile), and crayons (if printed on white paper). 

Color Crowns Activity

If you’re looking for a low-prep activity, this is it! Simply print out any of the 12 color crowns from this PDF download and then distribute crayons and scissors. 

First graders can practice coloring within the lines and cutting in addition to word/picture association. Once they are finished coloring and cutting, help students size the crown to their head and tape or staple it together. 

Craft Activity: Make a Paper Gingerbread House

This paper gingerbread house includes printable templates for the house and decorations. However, children can add their own unique artistic touch with various materials. 

You will need white cardstock, brown paint, felt tip pens, glue, and any other supplies you wish to have students use. Not only is this a fun project, but it develops visual-spatial and motor skills, along with exercising patience and creativity. 

Puffy Penguin Party Bag

From Teach Simple’s Calendar Crafts: Things to Make and Do for Each Month, the Puffy Penguin Party Bag is a fun seasonal first grade craft. 

The directions and template are found on pages 12–13 of the activity book. You need a print out of the template, a paper bag, crayons, scissors, and glue to assemble your penguin. 

Skills children will use for this project include fine motor, ordering, and spatial awareness. 

Paper Giraffe

This adorable first grade craft requires little preparation and only a few materials including a yellow piece of construction paper or card stock, brown paper, scissors, a marker, and glue. 

Children will fold one end of the paper over into a triangle and cut along the line of the triangle. When they unfold it, they will have a square which they will roll into a cone for the neck of the giraffe. They will cut out a head with ears and can draw on the face. Finally, they will tear brown paper (construction or tissue paper) for the giraffe’s spots. 

All of these steps require fine motor skills, spatial awareness, and the ability to follow directions. 

Art for All Seasons

Teach Simple’s Art for All Seasons contains multiple templates for seasonal decorations. First graders will have fun coloring the templates and cutting them out. 

This craft can be used to support lessons about seasons and holidays or used for classroom decor. All you need are the templates, crayons, scissors, and glue (for some projects). 

First graders will use their hand-eye coordination and scissor skills for this project. 

Doily Prints

The doily prints craft is found on page 4 of this Doodles and Oodles of Art craft bundle. Students will need doilies, tempera paint, containers for paint, brushes or sponges, and paper or fabric. 

They will lay the doily over the paper or fabric and paint over it, leaving unique prints on their medium of choice. 

Play Doh Caterpillar

The play dough caterpillar craft only requires 4 different colors of play dough, which can be substituted with modeling clay, and some creativity. 

First graders will have fun picking out colors and rolling the dough into different shapes to create their very own caterpillar. Fine motor skills, awareness of spatial awareness, and following directions are the skills practiced during this activity. 

Paper Windmill

Have kids make a craft that they can spin on their own or leave outside in the breeze. Little preparation is needed for this fun project, just a square piece of colored paper, a straw, a pin or nail, scissors, a ruler, and some glue. 

This activity requires motor skills, spatial awareness, and the ability to measure with a ruler. 

Spiny Ball Art

This fun first grade craft on page 3 From Doodles and Oodles of Art uses paint and a ball with pointed spines to create unique prints. Other required materials include paper, tempera paint, a circular plastic tub, and pie tins to hold paint. 

Students will roll the spiny ball around in the pie tins filled with paint (they can put different colors on different parts of the ball), and then place paper in the circular tub with the ball on top. Then they will shake the tub to move the ball around to create a colorful design. The main skill required is following directions. 

Tissue Paper Collage

All you need for this craft is a bowl, glue, a little bit of water, tissue paper, and a piece of cardstock. You may want to squeeze the glue into the bowl for your first graders, adding a little bit of water to thin it. 

Students can tear the tissue paper into small pieces and use a paint brush to spread the glue across the cardstock before arranging the tissue paper. Once the tissue paper has been applied in the desired design, students will brush a layer of glue over it. 

This project requires dexterity to tear to the paper and the ability to sequence and follow directions.  

Coffee Filter Butterflies

For this low-prep activity, you will need a coffee filter, clothes pin, watercolor paints, and a paintbrush. 

First graders will have fun watching the paint separate into colorful patterns before folding the middle and attaching a clothespin for the butterfly’s body. 

This activity teaches motor skills that can be transferred to writing with a pencil, as well as following directions in order. 

“I Love You This Much” Hand Banner Craft

The hand banner craft is a simple, low-prep craft that first graders will love. The PDF bundle includes a template with two hands and two rectangles with lines to show where to fold. 

Students can color and decorate their banner however they choose. Then they follow the directions to fold the rectangular strips accordion-style and glue them together at the indicated location. After decorating the hands, children will glue them to the assigned end of the folded banner. 

Sand Painting

Little prep is required for this fun painting craft. Materials include sand in different colors, glue, a paint brush, small bowls, cardboard, and a tray. 

Students can use the paintbrush to “draw” the objects in their picture and then sprinkle sand over it to provide color and texture. Salt can be substituted for sand, and color can be added with food coloring or powdered tempera paint. 

First graders learn how to plan out a picture or design and exercise their motor skills. 

As a bonus craft, check out the paper sculpture instructions in this same bundle!

Line and Pattern Painting

This craft requires concentration, focus, and fine motor skills for first graders to complete successfully. An adult needs to model and explain each line or shape that is drawn so that students can replicate it. After drawing the picture, let students color it or add patterns and designs of their choice. 

Materials include an ink filled bingo dauber, watercolor paints, and pastels. Aside from gathering materials, the only prep is deciding on an object that is simple enough for first graders to draw. 

What Should 1st Graders Learn In Art?

In art class, first graders should be learning about lines and their orientation (vertical, horizontal, diagonal), shapes, the size of different objects in relation to each other, color, and texture. 

Students should be encouraged to try new things and to use familiar tools and materials in new ways. First grade crafts should foster creativity, problem solving, and experimentation with new ideas. 

About the Author

Kelly Rende has a Masters degree in Special Education. She has been teaching middle school science and STEM courses for 18 years. When not teaching, she can be found writing or on an adventure with her children and dogs.