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Lesson Plans

Annual art show- how I do it

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lindacharlie (lindacharlie)
Wed, 17 Feb 1999 20:29:54 -0500

Annual spring art exhibits are a big deal in my district's elementary
schools. There is a district-wide K-12 show at the municipal library and
each school sends 6 pieces of 2D and 6 3D. Then each school has its own
exhibit. I teach in two schools, with about 800 kids and try to put up
at least 2 things from every student. (Yes, this means two art fairs in
two buildings.) Flats are available from the district if you beat
everybody else and order them in September but I never bother with them
as they have to be taken down the next day to go to the next person.
It's too much work to put up both shows and not be able to enjoy them
for a while so instead I put work up all over the halls.

Each class has two projects, one 2D and one 3D. Each display includes an
art history reproduction (or calendar pic, color xerox...) and a
narrative about the art history, learning objectives, process/medium,
etc. 3D stuff goes on tables in the hallways; 2D on the walls. Some
displays are more elaborate than others. For example this year my first
and second grades have done 2D and 3D work in an underwater theme so I'm
converting the art room into "an octopus's graden" complete with
Beatle's music, blue celophane over the lights, and papier mach balloon
octopi/jelly fish/tropical fish (1st grade projects) suspended from the
ceiling; 2D work all around the walls.

I request parent help for preparing the work and for hanging. Since
every inch of our building is being used, many parent volunteers come by
and pick up class sets of art work, construction paper for mats,
staplers, tape, name tags, class lists, etc. and take them home to
prepare them for hanging. The week before the show I put out memo asking
the teachers to clear their hall walls to make room for the work by
installation day. I also design an invitation to the show which contains
some art advocacy stuff and this gets sent home with the kids.

The day before the show I get subbed and spend my day heading the
installation. Parent volunteers come in and the 6th grade teachers also
let me borrow their best workers during the day. Sometimes I have many
and sometimes I do a lot by myself. Sometimes we stay until 11:00pm when
the custodians kick us out.

On the day of the show I "teach" in the halls. The classes I have that
day get a sneak preview of the show as I take them on a guided tour,
sometimes putting on finishing touches. I never put a class's work near
their own room - too easy for them to find it that way. I make them
search through the whole show to find their pieces and that way they end
up seeing just about everything.

The PTA sponsors an ice cream social in the gym that evening and the
High School Jazz Band performs in the lobby or outside if it's nice. It
has always been a wonderful event and a beautiful showcase of the
students' hard work. The night after the show, I go get a professional

Some hints I've learned for hanging 2D:
Use good masking tape for tape circles - one year we had that
"bargain" stuff that didn't stick through the night - disaster!!
Easy matting solution: before students make art work on 12x18 paper,
trim the paper to 11x17. Then, for a 1/2" "mat", center the work on a
12x18 piece of contrasting paper and staple in the corners. Voila! (To
cause the least damage to the art, make sure 1 prong of each staple is
within 1/4" of the edge and the other is only in the construction paper
Neat hanging trick: cut ceiling high lengths of colored roll paper,
fold over one end and tape to make a channel wide enough for a
meter/yard stick, and slide the stick into the channel. Tape or staple
artwork to the paper. Hang these from metal drop ceiling grids with
paper clips. You can use these as room dividers and put pics on both
sides or to "wall off" part of a room for an exhibit. If you're careful
in removing the art work, you can also roll them up and use them again
next year.
When it's time to take things down: The kids take their 3D pieces
home that night - there goes half the show. The 2D stays up for a while,
then the kids take their own work down and that's over!

I guess this is long enough for one night! Love to hear how you all do

Linda in Michigan

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