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name designs with art 1 back to school art lesson

Best Back to School Art Lesson? Name Designs!

The start of this school year has been interesting!  I missed all of last week due to testing positive with COVID!  I’m feeling better now and I’m back to work this week wearing a mask for these first few days.  

For the last 4 years now, my first Art 1 back to School art lesson has been Name Designs.   

Now, I know what you might be thinking: “Name Designs? Sounds trite and boring?” Oh, my friends, let me tell you—it’s actually awesome!

So, what exactly are Name Designs, you ask? Well, it’s not just about scribbling your name in fancy letters (although that’s part of it). It’s about turning each letter of your name into something that represents you—your hobbies, your passions, your quirks, you name it! (PUN INTENDED!)

Think about it: your name is more than just a string of letters. It’s a reflection of who you are, a glimpse into your unique personality. And what better way to showcase that than by transforming it into a visual masterpiece?

I do these with my Art 1 classes, but Name Designs aren’t just for high schoolers. Nope, they’re perfect for middle schoolers too! Whether you’re teaching Art 1 or looking for a fun project to kickstart the back to school season, Name Designs are guaranteed to be a hit!

Now, let me tell you THREE REASONS why I love this lesson so much and especially as a Back to School Art lesson!


First off, it’s a fantastic way for me to learn my students’ names. I mean, let’s be real—remembering dozens of names can be a challenge! But I whole-heartedly believe it’s SO important for classroom management. I actually wrote a WHOLE post about that HERE. With these Name Designs, not only do I get to put a face to a name, but I also get a glimpse into what makes each student tick.


And that brings me to my next point: getting to know my students on a deeper level. This is my favorite part about this Name Design lesson! As I wander around the classroom, admiring their creations, I’m not just seeing their artistic skills—I’m getting a peek into their world. From sports enthusiasts to bookworms to budding musicians, each Name Design tells me a little bit more about who they are and what they love.


Name Designs are also a fantastic way to kickstart the creativity engine. This isn’t just some easy art lesson! Students have to think very creatively to turn everyday objects into letters from the alphabet! It’s not an idea they are umfamilar with (I always referance the Google Doodle logo designs) but it’s not a simple task! So, they’re flexing those creative muscles and honing their artistic skills from day one. Plus, I immediately get some feedback about their creativity level and artistic abilities!

So there you have it, fellow art teachers: Name Designs, the ultimate back to school art lesson plan. Whether you’re teaching high school or middle school, Art 1 or beyond, this lesson is guaranteed to be a hit.

Here is some of my student’s work:

If you want to try this back to school art lesson…. AND you want all the work done for you, you can snag my resource on TPT. You’ll get the 5 page PDF file with the worksheet pages, student examples and teacher notes. There is also a 14 slide PDF presentation that includes a lot of good student example images. These typically take my high school art 1 class about 90 minutes to 2 hours to complete from start to finish.

In my class, I typically use 4.5″ x 12″ rectangular sheets of white drawing paper, Crayola colored pencils, Sharpies and/or Crayola Super-Tip color markers.


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Hi, I’m Erin!

I’ve been a high school art teacher at a rural school in WV for the past 14 years. I teach Art 1, AP Art + Design, Art 2 and 3. 
I’m a little obsessed with my sweet husband. Together we have FOUR kids and a rescue dog named Boomer! 
I love a bad pun and terrible dad jokes. I spend time looking at MBTI memes, cooking, listening to serial killer podcasts and Harry Potter audiobooks on repeat. I also teach yoga and indoor cycling. Click the button below to learn more about me. 

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