Grade: Elementary
Subject: Art

#582. Paper Plate Activities

Art, level: Elementary
Posted Sat Aug 22 09:45:50 PDT 1998 by compiled by Addie Gaines from posts (
Inside Kindergarten
Seneca Elementary School, Seneca, MO USA
Materials Required: paper plates, and various other materials
Activity Time: varies
Concepts Taught: fine motor development, various others

I have been asked to teach a class to teachers on easy
crafts. The material I drew out of the hat was paper
plates. I was hoping that some of you could share with me
some good paper plate activities.
Thank you in Advance!
All help is appreciated
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Chris you can have children make a clock or face--their own
or attach 2 plates one side a happy face other side a sad
face attach a craft stick for a lesson on feelings. Use
different sizes for a snowman or a bear.


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Masks come to mind. Or an easy musical instrument - fold the plate in half and put rice or beans inside and staple all around. Decorate and you have a very fun musical instrument.
Cut around the inside and use the outside rim as the base for a hat. Cut a plate in half and attach to a whole plate front to front and add a ribbon for hanging and you have a mailbox for notes and letters (or valentines).

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Saw a neat Christmas wreath made by cutting out the center
and sponge painting green around the edges.

I've also used them for "record player art". Punch a hole
through a paper plate and put it on a record player. Turn it
on, and have the kids lightly hold a marker on in one spot.
Use different colors...looks really neat!

I have also made very simple cars by having kids paint plates
cut in 1/2 in bright colors, and then adding black circles
for wheels.

Hope this helps.

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I use paper plates for a lot of things, such as:
- wreaths for Thanksgiving and Christmas
- Columbus Day- hand painting in the shape of a boat.
- musical instruments- 2 plates stapled together with beans,
rice,or corn in the middle.
- Valentine card holders- 2 plates stapled together. Cut
the top of the plate in the shape of a heart.
- mobiles that hang from the ceiling.
- a Seasons Tree display- draw 2 lines on paper plate. Top
to bottom, side to side (It would look like a plus sign).
There should be 4 sections. Have the students to draw a
picture of a tree during each season (winter, spring,
summer, and fall).


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Hi Chris,
One thing I have used a paper plate for is to teach metamorphosis. Divide the plate into 4 equal-sized sections (pe-shaped). One the 1st setion, put a leaf (construction paper works fine) On the leaf put some eggs(I use puffy paint so there is texture to the eggs) This is the egg stage. On the next section I have the kids twist two pipe cleaners together and I put some tiny moveable eyes on it. This is the caterpillar or larvae stage. On the next section, the kids glue a small twig. We then take a small piece of either white or gray paper and roll it into a scroll and we glue it on the twig. This is the chrysalis or cocoon, hence the pupa stage. And in the last section, we take a small piece of crepe or tissue paper and a pipe cleaner and we make a butterfly or moth. You are teaching science, following directions, you have an art project in the process. The children really like this activity and it looks so cute that all the other teachers want to make them as well. Hope this helps. Darlene

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I've done a rabbit at Easter using 2 plates-1 is the face and the
other you cut in half forming 2 ears. Attach the ears with a
single brad. Also we have made the Very Hungry Caterpillar using
plates for the head and sections. The children can paint with
water colors or glue with tissue paper in the style of Eric
Carle. We have had the children also write an innovation about
the book glued it to the paper plate and had a long class book on
the wall.

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I have used paper plates to make a Fall wreath.Just cut out the
middle of the plate and use leaves,that have been sponge painted ,
and you could add other Fall items like pumpkins,etc. Add a bow from
real cloth or paper and you have a lovely decoration.

I also use paper plates to make some neat animals. I have made
the rabbit someone mentioned, and an owl, and a panda. For the owl
and panda you need a large plate and a small plate. For the panda
you use black paper for the paws,ears, etc. For the owl, you add
wings,a tail, and feet, the small plate is for the face.

At Christmas I made penquins from two small plates and made a
Penquin Christmas tree. We just lined the penquins up starting with
7 at the bottom,then 6 , then 5, etc. The one penquin at the top
held up a star. To make the penquin we used black for the
wings,orange for the feet and beaks.


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Hi Chris. I think you are lucky to have drawn paper plates as there are so many ideas. I like all of the ideas posted, especially the metamorphisis of the butterfly. (I am going to use that one!)

Here are a couple of more I have used:

1. Valentines: using the wreath concept, glue hearts around the border. Many colors and sizes works best.

2. Martin Luther King: I saw this one here: Cut a plate in half for body of a dove. Cut the other half in half again for wings. Glue a white circle for a head. Glue a green paper branch for the olive branch. Talk about the dove as a peace symbol.

3. St. Patrick's day: This is a McMillan activity. The plate is the leprechaun's head. Children decorate the face with crayons. They add orange yarn for a beard and hair. Glue on paper hats and pointy ears. Make arms and legs by taking strips of paper and folding it like a fan. Then unfold for dangly arms and legs. Add paper hands and shoes. These are fun to make, but look kind of goofy in the end!

4. Ocean's week: Jellyfish. Have kids scribble with pastel colors on both sides of plate. Tape on 6-7 tinsels, ribbon, yarn etc to hang down as the jellyfish legs. Hang from ceiling with crepe paper for seaweed and other hanging fish. Really adds to the ocean motif!

Have fun with your presentation. I hope to have helped.


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There is a book called paper plate animals. (when my kdg. class had to do a Mass activity we did Noah's Ark and each child had one of these animals.) This is a cool book I can copy down some of the directions if you would like.

Make a fish
flying saucer... we made these and took them outside and flew them.
Make a lady bug... and a clock for the grouchy ladybug


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There is a book called paper plate people. Easy to add a tall black hat and beard to make Lincoln, a wig and blue hat to make Washington, etc. I also use plates to make turtles. Use a black magic marker to draw the markings on the shell. Color or paint the "shell" green. Add a head, tail and four feet. Easy and fun. Looks like you have many wonderful ideas! JT

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We used paper plates to create Inuit story masks to go with the book, Mama, do you love me?. We also used them to decorate a shell for hermit crab. I used the book to draw a face and claws which we glued from behind. Then the kids colored the plates and decorated them with various art/craft supplies of their choice.