Okay, two people already said this, but I've found it to be true too-- weaving
is a good one for boys, and for calming classes down in general. If you study
African Kente cloth, it is traditionally woven by men, so boys would learn that
skill in that culture. Also stitchery- I have seen 4th grade boys get really
into doing stitchery with yarn on burlap and want to continue it in 5th. With
these lessons, get the students who catch on quickly to peer teach the others.
And it's not wet or messy, so you gotta love that once in a while!
On the question of separating the classes, maybe you can just find a temporary
parking place for disrupters. I have some students who don't do well during
the introductions to lessons, and they waste a lot of the other students' time
if they stay in the class. These kids could make a 5 minute intro drag out to
15 minutes, and it was happening over and over. I set up a system send them
to a partner teacher or the assistant principal to wait while I give the direct
instruction to students who are willing to behave. They get to come back in
once everyone else gets started on independent work, and they have to get the
abbreviated version of the directions from me, or read a process chart/ ask
their neighbor. So if they choose to disrupt instruction, they only waste
their own art time now. Once they've seen someone get sent out, the others
usually pipe down. I've never sent more than two out. And for a couple of
them, this works so much better anyway because they are understanding a lot
more of the instruction when I'm talking to them individually once they come
I don't know if that would be helpful for your situation or not- it's just that
point in the semester when a little plan like that kinda saves my day.