I use art post cards to communicate good news about my elementary
students to their parents. When a student demonstrates affective
learning or takes responsibility for helping tasks outside what is
expected, I give them a check mark on my "responsibility chart." When
they collect 7 checks, they may choose one of the post cards from my
collection and I address it to their parents right then. As soon as I
have a chance that day, I write a message to Mom/Dad/Responsible Adult
about how much I enjoy having their young person as a student
because..... and mail it off. Both students and parents are thrilled
beyond words -some parents get teary! when they tell me a year later how
much that note meant. Having 800 or so students, I was a little leary of
starting this due to the expense involved with cards and postage, but I
don't make a huge deal out of it during class, just tell the student
they are getting a responsibility check. Then when number 7 comes up,
they get this unexpected treasure. It hasn't been overwhelmingly
expensive in time or $$$ and has really motivated some of the students,
gotten some strong parental support (especially useful when the annual
spring art show rolls around!). Some kids aren't even interested
-primarily those who are busy in the evenings watching South Park and
the Simpsons with the parents, if the latter are home.
You will get more great ideas from a book called "Experience Art"
available in the 1998 Crystal catalog. The authors, 5 grad students from
TX, presented some terrific activities from their book at an NAEA
session last spring in Chicago.