If you didn’t know, Art lessons for Kids has a Facebook page (YEAH!). I recently asked my lovely readers over there the following question: “If I could visit you for a day in your classroom, how could I help you?” The beauty of internet is that we no longer have distances and boundaries. Information is at our fingertips literally and dynamic niche groups are popping up everywhere for anyone about anything. The main idea behind my Facebook page was to create a place where anyone who teaches art can have a conversation about what amazing lessons are happening in our classrooms, what are some common problems, ideas and solutions.
The people who answered my question brought up issues and problems that we all encounter at some point in our own classrooms. As a thank you to them, I thought I would make a round-up post with some solutions that have worked for me. Feel free to add your own tips and ideas either in the comment section below or over at the Facebook page.
1. Ideas on how to get the attention of the kids, especially for an after school club with energetic kids.
The great thing about an after school club is that you can do really fun and different art projects that you normally wouldn’t teach during the year because either it doesn’t fit into the curriculum or is too complicated for a large classroom sized group. Do you want a long project they can work on each time you see them after school? Or do you want quick projects that they can finish each session you see them? Typically an after school club runs for about 4-6 weeks depending on your school. I like to choose a specific theme for my after school club. It helps me plan better and stay focused. There is also a beginning and end with lots of fun in between. I start with two short projects as an introduction, then one long one in the middle and end with a short wrap up project such a final presentation/gallery exhibition etc. Certificates for participation make the students feel proud of their efforts and you can do this at an assembly.
Begin your sessions with some stretches to get all the wiggles and giggles out and to release some of that excess energy. Play some soft music in the background while the students are working and be consistent with your choice of music each time you see them. Did your students have time for a quick snack? It’s amazing what a little bit of food can do to calm the students down not to mention a quick visit to the bathroom.
One of my favorite after school clubs that was a total hit and kept the kids totally engaged was a stop motion music video club I ran with Grade 2-4 kids. I set the limit to 6 kids and everyone worked in pairs. Set design, filming, editing and choosing a song for the video kept everyone totally focused and we even had to extend the club with an extra session. Here is a link to the music video my son produced.
Remember, that an after school club that is different and fun, no matter what the theme is will keep those energetic kids totally glued to the projects and won’t want to leave your after school club EVER!
2. Projects that can easily be used by a wide range of ages for a home school art program
There are so many wonderful art teacher created blogs out there that will give you plenty of inspiration for any age group. Of course go see them after you have thoroughly explored my blog first !!!!! Seriously, visit some of the art blog I have listed on my side bar and while you are there, take a look at their sidebars and follow their links to see other art blogs and so on. A lot of good stuff out there huh? Check out my lesson plans page for more ideas you can use.
3. How do you get children to love their (art) work instead of crumpling it up and throwing it in the garbage?
You all have to agree and this is one of those top ‘common problems’ we all face daily. Many kids feel they aren’t ‘good’ at art because they can’t draw or paint or simply don’t like it. As an art teacher, we need to provide our student with a whole variety of lessons and projects that explore all areas of art. By doing this, you show them that art goes beyond painting and drawing and the possibilities of artistic expression is quite endless. They just need to find their groove and who better to show the way? YOU! As teachers, we have to help our students find their strengths and nurture this as often as possible and allow them plenty of opportunities to explore further. The benefits will be that there will be an attitude change in those kids who don’t feel so confident and an open willingness to explore other areas they might typically not like much.
Try this: Now and again during your lessons, very enthusiastically ask your students some or all of these questions: Who’s trying their best? Who loooooves what they are doing right now? Who can see someone doing an amazing job? Look at the person’s work next to you and give them a compliment about something great you see they are doing or something specific you really like about their work. ” I love how you are coloring in that section..” etc..
Remember–teach the difference between a criticism and constructive criticism. Everyone is entitled to an opinion as long as they can say it in a nice way.
4. A no fail way to get their (student’s) names on the paper
This for sure has to be one of those things that can drive you crazy. Do you agree? When you see so many students every day ranging from Lower elementary to Middle school and even high school, names on artwork is essential although isn’t it amazing how we always seem to know whose work belongs to who? Give yourself a pat on the back for being brilliant!
The first thing I always tell my students to do before starting any project is to write their names. This happens as soon as I give out papers. Then in the middle of the lesson I ask them to say ‘check’ if they have written their names. I do this with my little guys and my big guys too as this problem has no age limit.
Have you noticed that it’s usually the same kids that forget their name? Use this to your advantage. Ask one person from each table to be the ‘name checker’ for their group. Their job is to make sure everyone at their table has their name on their work before handing it in. You can change the name checkers regularly or better still, remember the kids that always forget? Ta da!..now you have a permanent job for them. 🙂
5. Art lessons for 3 and a half-year olds
Because this age group is so young, your focus primarily is to explore. Playdoh or clay with some rollers are always a hit. You don’t even need rollers- let their hand explore. Teach them to roll up coils or to make a simple pinch pot. If you have recycled paper have your kids rip it up into pieces (they love this part!) and glue them onto paper by overlapping or making a picture. Weaving, lacing, finger painting and drawing/painting on LARGE paper are just some fun ideas for you to think about. There are many blogs out there for young kids especially the home school blogs. Try adapting some of the Kinder projects I have here for the little people.
6. Art lessons for grade 3-5
Check this blog first to find a ton of ideas:) Talk to the classroom teachers and see what they are doing in class especially in Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and Math. See if you can create lessons to support and connect back to the learning in the classroom. Check the links on my side bar to visit other fabulous art blogs too. Visit my lesson plans page for more ideas.
I have really enjoyed writing this post because it’s helped me realize that I am not alone in the art room. Other teachers have the same problems and this is comforting to know. It makes me happy to share with you what has worked for me and I hope this has helped you a bit too. I know you have a ton of ideas too so please feel free to add them here in the comment section. After all, we are here to help each be the best we can be, right?
Here’s to you continued success in the art room 🙂
If you haven’t done so, visit Art Lessons for Kids on Facebook and be part of the ongoing conversation. I would love to see you there. You can also follow my adventures on Twitter (@Ms_Alejandra).
About names: I tell them that fine artists always!!!!! sign their works, and we look at great masters’ paintings and find where they sign and how they use such “cool” handwriting. They take on the job in an artistic way that makes them feel unique “My name is part of my art….” rather than “oh, I have to write my name… “