Patti's list of 10 Things I wish I had known when I started Elementary Art
1. How to control the mess that quickly accumulates in the Art room. Leave
enough time in each art class period to have an effective clean up with the
student's help. If you do not tidy up after every class, you have a ton of
extra work to do at the end of the day. Kids are great helpers and love to wash
desks, put pencils away, help carry paintings to the drying rack, etc.
2. Classroom teachers do not always see you as a teacher, but as a
babysitter while they have their planning period. Be an advocate for your program,
even if it is just hanging up the art in the school with a brief explanation of
what the kids learned in that lesson. You have to prove to some of these
teachers that you are a hard working educator as well, and that they can learn so
much from every subject in our class.
3. Kids wanting to sharpen their pencils is contageous, much like bathroom
brakes, kleenex, and waterfountain drinks. If one goes, they all suddenly have
4. Cafeteria lunch trays make excellent holders for daily supplies: easy to
wipe down, they catch spills from going all over the tables, pencils don't
roll away. I put one tray for each table or group and it has the pencils,
sharpeners, erasers and any other supplies that are needed for the class on the
tray. The kids put all the supplies on the tray when they clean up. Student
helpers collect supplies from the trays.
5. Crayon and marker boxes will tear/break from the bottom from repeated use
if you do not tape them closed. Those Gladware plastic tubs can be purchased
cheap from the $1 store and are great for storing crayons and markers.
6. Changing the volume of your voice can really effect the volume of the
talking in your classroom. If you talk quiet, the kids will get quiet to listen.
Students love art, don't want it to get taken away, so if the punishment
means something to them it is more effective. Make taking their art away for the
day a consequence for braking your rules.
7. What to do with all the left over construction paper scraps? This is a
mess that can get out of control quickly. I make 3 boxes and label them Warm
Colored, Cool Colored, and Neutral Scraps. Every time I cut down paper and
have leftovers, I put them in one of the boxes. When we work on a project where
the kids need to use the scraps, they can just go over to the labeled box and
pull out the color they need.
8. How to use the lamination machine. Art posters and the like can get
pretty expensive. Cheap alternative: make your own. Library books (free), color
copier, and a lamination machine. I have made quite a few posters for my
specific lessons from this method. Kinko's copiers will enlarge and crop the
color photos. Postcard books are also a great and cheap way to get a lot of
pictures. Pull them apart, number the set, and laminate.
9. Always try the project first with the same materials the students will be
using. Laminate and save this example so you won't have to make it again
next year when you do the lesson again. I have laminated the actual written out
lesson on the back of the flat teacher examples. The completed example can
help the different types of learners in your room.
10. It get's easier your second year, and easier your third, etc. You pick
your best lessons and do them again the 2nd year, you already have all these
lesson examples made, and lessons written, your discipline is more refined,
you have more confidence in yourself, you know what your kids can do at each
grade level and choose new lessons that will be more successful for those ages.