Keith Haring Art for Kids – Pop Art Lesson Idea

Let your kids or students explore pop art and graffiti style with this Keith Haring art project for kids with step-by-step instructions and full artist information to include in your lesson.

Keith Haring Art For Kids - Pop Art Lesson to Do at Home or in the Classroom

Keith Haring is an important artist to include in your lessons if you are teaching art to your children or a group of children. His art has such an iconic style and there hasn’t been anyone since to rival it.

Keith Haring Art for Kids – Exploring Pop Art with Chalk Pastels

This lesson can be easily taught to your own children at home or to a group. It’s easy but enjoyable, and it gives them room to be creative, while focusing on their drawing skills. It also uses chalk pastels, which aren’t as commonly used and it’s a great way to showcase them and show what real color hues look like, as they are as vibrant as any artistic medium. .

I will give you some lesson tips and tricks to make it easier for you and cover teaching it to different ages. But first, let’s talk a bit about Haring so you can share some art history with them in your lesson as well.

Pop Art Lesson for Kid - Art Idea Inspired by Keith Haring

Start the art lesson with information about Keith Haring (Kid Friendly)

Keith Haring was born in Pennsylvania in 1958. He drew from an early age, and he learned it from his father. Cartoons were a big influence on him and he honed his skills when he went to commercial art school in 1976, but he soon realized it wasn’t for him.

He then worked on his own to develop his own style of art and he even had his own solo exhibition in 1978.

He moved to New York and enrolled in the School of Visual Arts and it was there that he found the place he felt at home. The artists there not only did their art in school, but took it to the streets. His art became something you could see on the subway and on city streets, and he felt compelled to be a public artist, not just one who exhibits his work in a museum.

He became very popular in the 1980s when he could be found drawing on the walls and ceilings of the subway. People got used to seeing his works and he called it his laboratory.

His outline style became one we instantly recognize today. He opened his own shop called the “POP Shop” in 1986 where the walls were covered in his art and you could buy merchandise with the iconic images on it. He has done murals, drawing workshops for children and has also worked to help many large foundations for children and adults.
Sadly, he passed away in 1990, too young, but his legacy lives on.

Tips for art lessons

So for the lesson at this point, after reading them some information about his life and showing them some examples of his work, point out the thick cartoon outlines he used. Be sure to include the lines he placed around people or objects that also emphasize movement.

Small lines will make a big difference in their designs for this, in addition to people. Even if it’s a small thing, it makes a big difference. So explain to them that they are going to create their own series of people.

They can do serial moves, like jumping jacks for example, or they can be just 4 random poses of their choosing. (For the younger ones, K-1, I pre-mapped a group of people doing the puppets for them before they got to class, so all they had to do was color them in with pastels.)

Keith Haring Art for Kids Materials Needed

What you will need for each child:

  • 1 piece of colored construction paper in the color of their choice
  • 1 piece of white paper/2 for older children
  • 4 small pieces of white paper that you will pre-cut in advance
  • Pastels of different colors, and of course a black pastel for the outline
  • Pencil
  • Gum
  • Glue stick
  • Cover

And for you: lay a plastic tablecloth over the workspace, which makes cleaning easier and protects your table.

Step by Step Instructions for Keith Haring Art for Kids – Pop Art Lesson Idea

Before class, cut out a set of 4 rectangular pieces of white paper, all the same size, for each child. They then need to be glued to the construction paper and you will want to make them a size that leaves a fair amount of border all the way around.

For younger kids, this is where you’ll pre-trace the pictures for them. I made a set of them in pencil, then traced the rest so they all had the same shapes.

Let them choose a color for their background paper, then tell them to think of that color to coordinate the pastels they use with it.

One way to draw the figures is to first draw stick figures

Draw the characters

Ask them to create their own figures in different poses. Tell them to imagine the pose or even ask another child to pose for them if that helps. If they have trouble with the drawn shape of the characters, they can draw a stick figure first, then draw around to get the shape. Then ask them to erase the stick figure part. They should draw lightly as much as possible, so that the pencil indentations don’t show through the chalk later.

One trick is to draw the head first, so the body follows suit and is the right size. If they draw the head too big, the body won’t fit on the paper either, so be sure to show them an example.

Color in charactersColoring with chalk pastels

Once they have drawn the figures, they will use the pastels to color them. They must use one color for the figure and one for the background.

Color in

By using the edge of the pastel, holding it as you would a pencil, you can achieve a fine line, which works well for both the finer areas of the figure and the outline part. Then, using the wider side of the chalk, you can color the areas easier and faster.

color around

Have them lay a piece of white paper under their workspace and while they are coloring with the pastels they can tap the drawing paper on the bottom one to catch the chalk dust. This prevents dust from spreading all over the table.

They’ll probably have to color in a layer of chalk, then come back and fill in the white spots. Some kids won’t want to do this and prefer the loose color.

Pop Art for children in the making

Once the figure and the background are colored, the outline should be done.

Emphasize using the edge or corner of the pastel for a finer line. For the younger ones I made their outlines for them as it is more difficult with small hands to control the square shaped chalk like a pencil.

Make Pop Art Collages

Paste the pictures on colored paper

At this point I pasted the numbers on for them, as the chalks are easy to smudge. So just ask them in advance what order they want their numbers pasted on the page.

When I glued them I rolled the glue onto the construction paper so I didn’t turn the chalk drawing over, then I used a container of glue stick to roll onto the paper to help me smoothing it out and making it stick to the glue worked better than using my fingers and smearing it.

The glue stick container is a perfect size to use for this trick.
Now they are ready to be taken home.

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For my older children, who are in grades 5-8, I also asked them to create a large figure or drawing in the same style, but it didn’t have to be a person.

Pop Art Wolf

The other piece of white paper is for this. I wanted to help hone their drawing skills a bit more and give them the opportunity to try the same thing on a larger scale. Many chose not to or ran out of time, but those who did came up with great designs.

As for storing pastels, you can send them home with a piece of paper on top of the chalk drawings, or just suggest they store it that way, or spray it with clear spray mod podge to preserve it. (If you have the space and time to spray them yourself, it helps to do this for them, but it stinks and needs good ventilation, plus time to dry out and not stink up their car on the way back !)

Project contributed by Mary BH of My Little Canvas

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More information about Keith Haring Art for Kids – Pop Art Lesson Idea

Let your kids or students explore pop art and graffiti like style with this Keith Haring art for kids project with step by step instructions and all of much information about the artist to include in your lesson.

Keith Haring is an important artist to include in your lessons if you teach art to your kids, or a group of kids. His art has such an iconic style and there has been no one since him who rivals it.
Keith Haring Art for Kids – Exploring Pop Art With Chalk Pastels
This lesson can be easily taught to just your own children in your home, or to a group. It is an easy but enjoyable one, and it gives them room to be creative, while homing in on their drawing skills. It also uses chalk pastels, which aren’t as commonly used and it’s a great way to introduce those and show what the true hues of color look like because they are as vibrant as any art medium can get.
I am going to give you some tips and tricks on the lesson to make it easier for you, and cover teaching it to different ages. But first, let’s talk a bit about Haring so that you can share some art history with them in your lesson as well.

Starting the Art Lesson with Information About Keith Haring (Kid Friendly)
Keith Haring was born in Pennsylvania in 1958. He was drawing at an early age, and he learned it from his father. Cartoons were a big influence on him and he sharpened his skills when he went to school for commercial art in 1976 but figured out quickly that is wasn’t for him.
He then worked on his own to develop his own style of art and he even had his own solo exhibit in 1978.
He moved to New York City and enrolled in the School of Visual Arts and it was here that he found the place he felt at home. The artists there not only did their art at school but took it to the streets. His art became something that you could see in the subways and on the streets in the city, and he felt compelled to be a public artist, not just one who puts their work in a museum.
He became very popular in the 1980’s when he could be found drawing on the subway walls and ceilings. People became used to seeing his artwork and he called it his laboratory.
His style of outlining became one that we instantly recognize today. He opened his own shop called the “POP shop” in 1986 where the walls were covered with his art and you could purchase merchandise with the iconic images on it. He did murals, drawing workshops for kids and also did work to help many great foundations for children and adults.
Sadly, he died in 1990, at too young of an age, but his legacy lives on.
Art Lesson Tips
So, for the lesson at this point, after reading them some info about his life and showing them some examples of his work, point out the thick cartoonish outlines he used. Make sure to include the lines he put around the people or objects that put emphasis on the movement as well.
Little lines will make a big difference in their drawings for this, in addition to the people. Even though it is a small thing, it makes a big difference. So explain to them that they are going to create their own series of people.
They can be making movements in a series, like jumping jacks for example, or they can be just 4 random poses of their choice. (For the younger kids, preschool through 1st grade, I pre-traced a set of people doing the jumping jacks for them prior to them coming to class, so all they had to do was color them in with the pastels.)
Keith Haring Art for Kids Materials Needed

What you will need for each child:
1 piece colored construction paper in color of their choice
1 piece white paper/ 2 for older kids
4 small pieces of white paper that you will pre-cut ahead of time
Pastels in various colors, and for sure a black pastel for the outline
Pencil
Eraser
Glue stick
Cover up
And for you – Put down a plastic tablecloth over the workspace, which makes cleanup super easy and protects your table.
Step by Step Instructions for Keith Haring Art for Kids – Pop Art Lesson Idea
Before class, cut a set of 4 rectangular pieces of white paper, all in the same size, for each child. They need to be later glued on top of the construction paper and you will want to make them a size that leaves a good amount of border showing all the way around.

For the younger kids this is where you would pre-trace the images on for them. I did one set in pencil and then the rest of them I traced so they would all be the same shapes.
Let them choose a color for their bottom paper and then let them know to be thinking of that color to coordinate the pastels they use with it.

Drawing the figures
Have them create their own figures in different poses. Tell them to imagine the pose or even have another child pose for them if it helps. If they have trouble with the cartoon shape of the figures, they can first draw a stick figure and then draw around it to get the shape. Then have them erase the stick figure part. They will need to draw lightly as they possibly can, so that indentations of the pencil won’t show through the chalk later.
One tip is to draw the head first, so that the body follows suit and is the right size. If they draw the head too big, the body won’t all fit on the paper either, so just be sure to show them an example.
Coloring With Chalk Pastels
Once they have the figures drawn, they will use the pastels to color them in. They should use one color for the figure and one for the background.

Using the edge of the pastel, holding it the way you would a pencil, you can get a thin line, which works well for both the skinnier areas on the figure and the outlining part. Then, using the wider side of the chalk, you can color in areas easier and faster.

Have them put down a piece of white paper under their workspace and as they color with the pastels, they can tap the drawing paper on the bottom one to catch the chalk dust. This prevents the dust from getting blown all over the table.
They will likely need to color one coat of chalk on and then go back in and fill in any white spots. Some of the kids won’t want to do that and prefer the color loose.

Once both the figure and the background are colored in, then, the outlining should be done.
Emphasise using the edge or corner of the pastel to get a thinner line. For the younger kids, I did their outlines for them, because it is harder with small hands to control the square shaped chalk like a pencil.
Make the Pop Art Collages

At this point, I glued on the figures for them, because it is easy to smear the chalks. So just ask them ahead of time in which order they want their figures to be glued on the page.
When I glued them down, I rolled the glue on the construction paper, so I wasn’t turning over the chalk drawing, and then I used a glue stick container to roll over the paper to help me smooth it out and get it stuck to the glue, this worked better than using my fingers and smearing it.
The glue stick container is a perfect size to use for this trick.
Now, they are ready to take home.

For my older kids, who are 5th through 8th grade, I also had them create one large figure or drawing in the same style, but it didn’t have to be a person.

The other piece of white paper is for that. I wanted to help sharpen their drawing skills a bit more and give them opportunity to try the same thing on a larger scale. Many chose not to do it, or ran out of time, but the ones who did came up with some great drawings.

As far as storing the pastels, you can send them home with a piece pf paper over the top of the chalk drawings, or just suggest that they store it that way, or spray it down with mod podge clear coat spray to preserve it. (If you have the space and time to spray them yourself, it is helpful to do that for them, but it stinks and needs good ventilation, plus time to dry and not stink up their car on the way home!)
Project contributed by Mary B. H. from My Little Canvas
Unlock VIP Printables – Become a Member

Become a member of Easy Peasy and Fun membership and gain access to our exclusive craft templates and educational printables. With brand new resources added on weekly basis you will never run out of fun things to make with your kids (either as a parent or as a teacher).

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