I teach elementary art, up to grade 6. I utilize a process that's called "Silent Sustained Sketching" that I learned about at a PAEA convention - I don't recall the originators of the idea, but I'm very grateful to have learned this from them!
Upon entering the classroom, students pick up a sketchbook at the front of the classroom and sit down at their tables. When I give them the signal, they begin 5 minutes of "Silent Sustained Sketching" The objects that they draw are already set up on their tables and they change with each class. They are provided by the 5th grade students -because they are the first class in each morning - each 5th grade class takes a turn and at least 4 different still life setups are out at one time. The next week we rotate them and everyone draws everything in the course of 4 weeks. Then the next 5th grade supplies the still life material. When I return the items, I give them each a small thank you gift - usually art supply samples I've gotten at a convention. When the other kids see this, I get better participation next time! I send home a parent letter to explain the process and sometimes get parents brining in large items that we display in front of the room for all to draw - we got a Texas longhorn skull once - perfect for a Georgia O'Keeffe introduction! I also print out little reminder slips that I hand out to the class whose turn is coming up. The response has been good so far and is getting better as we go. I always keep a few garage sale oddities as a backup, so I'm not caught short. I do stress that it's great to draw from your imagination, but this 5 minutes is for practicing draw from "life"
Hope this helps.
Robin in PA
Subject: warm ups
From: Ann Parker <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 2010 03:43:25 -0700 (PDT)
I'm a middle school art teacher and provide daily warm up activities: drawing from observation and skill practices. But I'm running dry on meaningful warm ups that are also short enough but not too short. I don't like using warm ups that are too much on imaginative drawing as I stress how important using a reference. Ideas?