This is one of my favorite lessons to do with my first graders. I do this one every year. The kids really enjoy it. I think they enjoy it because of the opportunity for creativity it provides. This is a lesson I developed myself after a friend gave me about 200 packages of old unused vinyl letters and numbers (the kind you might use on signs and in graphic design).
letter and number stencils (I use bulletin board letters and stencil sheets)
number and letter stickers
9 x 9 inch square white drawing paper
We begin this project by looking at artwork by Jasper Johns. We talk about the process of creating prints (as most of his work is). We discuss the colors and ways he used the numbers in his artwork. We also discuss the way he overlapped his numbers, and repeated them in specific pieces that we look at on a powerpoint that I have made.
First, I provide each table with an assortment of letters and numbers to trace onto their white paper. I always demonstrate how to trace "the right way", because sometimes first graders haven't learned this yet. We also talk about overlapping and letting the numbers and letters go right off the page, that they don't have to be organized into rows.
The kids really do a nice job with their compositions and when they finish the next step is to outline and color them in with crayons. I encourage them to fill their letters and numbers in with patterns like stripes or zig-zag lines.
After the coloring is finished, the students are provided with several sheets of letter and number stickers. I don't really give them a lot of guidance on this part. It's fun to see how they place them on thier artwork...sometimes we even have kids spelling out names or words and phone numbers!
The last step for this project is to paint with watercolor. The students notice that they can't cover up the crayon...and that certain colors of paint really make the crayon stand out. They always turn out so colorful and make nice abstract works of art that they are all proud of.
We spend three to four class periods on this project.
...more student examples here...