Charcoal Art Ideas for Children


Charcoal is available in many different forms. Thin charcoal sticks and chunky blocks of charcoal are available in several sizes and hardness levels. Powdered charcoal can be used for softer effects. Charcoal is used as a rough sketching medium or for creating intricate pieces of artwork. Easy to smudge, the finished product needs a coating of fixative to protect the work.

Still Life

  • Set up a still life created from common objects; a teddy bear, fruit, art supplies, shoes or flowers. Explain that drawing a still life involves more than just outlines. Encourage the children to look at the shapes the objects create. Once the general form is drawn, have the student shade their project and then create highlights with a piece of white chalk. Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Degas, and many others famous artists used charcoal. Consider showing the students examples from their work.


  • Explore caricatures with children by using charcoal pencils. Caricatures require a quick, broad sketching technique that can be achieved with charcoal. Encourage children to look at the shapes of the facial features of the person they are drawing. Exaggerate one feature and make the cartoon body much smaller than the head. This lesson could follow a study of contour drawing.

Textured Art

  • Purchase a jar of ground charcoal, or make you own by crushing pieces of charcoal. Mix with white glue and use to paint a textured piece of art. The black substance can be applied over a piece of colored card stock or a prepared canvas. Have the students draw shadows of objects. Use paint brushes, craft sticks or toothpicks to move the mixture around. Once dry, spray with a clear shellac to hold in place.

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