Thanks for all the cool ideas, everyone! I've been doing art for an auction for the last couple of years with the kids. I too, don't really like the idea of having each kid make something for their parents to buy. It puts pressure on the parents, plus wouldn't the kid feel terrible if their artwork isn't good enough to buy? Having the artwork made in a group takes the pressure off of any one family and the kids will still want the art since they had a hand in making it.
Last year, my 5th/6th grade class carved stamps and then we made one large picture with each of their stamped images. (actually we made two large pictures). They also made their own individual artwork which they kept. This fit into our studies of African Adinkra symbols. We made the artwork and then we got a frame donated from a parent who worked at a printing press shop (which was awesome). I wanted a copy of the artwork, so I took it to an office place to copy (which cost about $30). The copy is now framed and hanging in our hallway at school. My goal is to do this each year and build up a nice collection of student artwork for the halls. Blogged about here: http://vividlayers.blogspot.com/2011/02/carved-stamps-5th6th-grade.html If you can't find a frame donation, you can pick one up fairly inexpensively at Michaels. Get a 40% off coupon from online, or wait until they go on sale. You can also get a teacher's discount (15% I believe) off
your total purchase.
Another year, we did the same thing, but made a fish painting. Each kid painted their own fish for the picture. Again, I photocopied it and sold the original at the auction. That same year, I bought a wooden stool (also use a 40% off coupon) and we painted it with acrylic paints. It turned out awesome! Here are some pics: https://sites.google.com/site/eagleartists/Home/eagle-auction-2010