Planning Ahead for Art

When should I start planning ahead for my art classes? 

A. Plan ahead before school starts

  • Get enough art ideas together for most of the year.
    • Make an example of each one.
    • Note any preparation that needs to be done before art class such as parts of the project that will be too difficult for your age level.
    • Make a list of supplies needed for the project.
  • Make a list of the art projects that you have ready to go so that you can see at a glance what you have available when art class rolls around. Make an educated guess about how long an art project will take and write that down as well.
  • Prepare enough art projects for all your students plus one or two more.
    • Copy enough for all your students if it is a paper project.
    • Prepare any harder parts of the project that you need to do before class.
    • Go shopping and get enough supplies for the year!

B. Plan ahead the day before art class

  • Have an example to show the students.
  • Have all the copies made and supplies handy.
  • Think through the art class keeping in mind your students’ abilities.
    • What is going to be new for them?
    • On which parts will they need the teacher’s help? Will one teacher reach around for this project or should you ask someone else to come and help?
    • What is the best way to explain how to do this project? Can you just explain how to do it at the beginning of class or will you need to have them do it step by step all together?  Would this be a good project for working in pairs?
  • Have extra supplies ready so that they can practice a new skill before trying it on their project.
  • Plan to keep the students busy. Will you be able to keep twelve second graders busy the whole time with this project, or do you need another simple project that they can work on by themselves while they are waiting for the teacher’s help on a difficult part.
  • Plan cleanup time
    • For messy projects, it works well to put wax paper or newspaper on the students’ desks before they start.
    • If they are painting, have cups of water for the children to wash their brushes. Have rags handy to dry their brushes and wipe up spills.  You may want to have a dishpan of water and a towel in the room for them to wash and dry their hands.

C. Plan ahead the day of art class

  • Give clear direction about what you expect during art class and stick to your word.
    • Are you going to ask them to be quiet, allow them to whisper, or allow them to talk? How soon are you going to allow them to talk?
    • Are they allowed to get out of their seats without permission?
    • Do you want them to raise their hand or their flag when they need help or are you OK with 14 students saying, “Sister Sue, Sister Sue, Sister Sue”?
  • Require your students to be quiet and pay attention when you are explaining something. It is no use talking if your students are not listening.
  • Help them to develop skills such as cutting and coloring neatly, drawing, shading, painting, chalking, following directions, etc.
  • Encourage positive comments. Help students to compliment their classmates’ work and accept compliments graciously on their own work.
  • Make students responsible to help you clean up. Give them clear directions about how you want them to clean up, where you want them to put their project, etc.

Art Class Ideas

  • Get a step by step drawing book and draw with your students.
  • Decorate report card envelopes and cover them with clear contact paper.
  • Make a scrapbook for an invalid or elderly friend.
  • Make a calendar for the new year. (Note…If you do this, you will need to start close to the beginning of the year so that you will be done by Christmas!)
  • Make rice crispy snowmen.
  • Use the recipe for rice crispy squares…1/4 cup butter and 40 large marshmallows melted and poured over 5 cups rice crispies.
  • Put skewers through the middle of the snowman to help him stand upright.
  • Decorate with candy. Toothpicks with small marshmallows for arms and hands, Oreo cookie with large marshmallow on top for the hat, string licorice for the scarf, etc.
  • Save lots of cardboard boxes such as tissue boxes and have the students use them to create a miniature village.
  • Place a leaf under a piece of paper. Color the paper over top of the leaf and watch the leaf “appear” on your paper.
  • Cut out all sizes of construction paper circles and have the students make animals using only circles.
  • Fill a pint jar half full of colored sand and set a candle in the middle. Decorate the jar with decals.
  • Have each student draw half a picture on a paper folded in half. Have another student draw the other half.
  • Cut out a big animal picture. Glue drinking straws over it every two inches.  It will look like the animal is in a cage.
  • Sponge paint a small flower pot. This is something you could do for Mother’s Day.  Have them plant a flower in it and give it to their mom!
  • Tear off small pieces of freezer tape and cover a hair spray bottle with them. Sponge paint on top of the tape.  Make tissue paper flowers to put in the bottle, and you have a homemade vase.
  • Make a place mat by cutting circles out of lots of different calendar pages. Glue the circles in rows onto the poster board, overlapping each circle with the next.  Get the place mat laminated.
  • Buy sun catchers and have the students paint them! You need to buy special sun catcher paint as well.Squawking chicken.
  • Towel lady for Mother’s Day.
  • Oriental Trading has some great craft projects for decent prices:  or 1-800-228-2269

Art Class Tips

  • Use art projects for bulletin boards.
  • Trace around their names with different colors of crayons. You can mount these names on a bulletin board and use the verse, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.”
  • Trace around their hand with different colors of crayons. Use the verse, ”I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
  • Make turtles. ”Slow and steady wins the race.”
  • Hang up students’ projects in the hall or in the room before an event when the parents come to school. Parents love to see what their children have made.
  • Use art projects to decorate the room.
  • Some art projects look nice hanging from the ceiling such as snowflakes, leaf chains, butterflies, etc.
  • Some art projects look nice sitting on a shelf such as the 3-D apple and the sock snowman.

Handout from Faith Builders Teachers Week, August 4, 2016, by Becky Sue Kreider

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