Surreal Landscape 

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

Inspired by Vladimir Kush, fourth grade students cut out an image from a magazine and created a surreal background for it using watercolor pencils.

Art Lesson Video: Surreal Landscape, Cutting & Surreal Landscape, ColoringSurreal Landscape, Painting

PowerPoint: Surreal Landscapes

Supplies:

  • Magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • 9″ x 12″ poster board
  • Watercolor pencils
  • Brushes

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

One of my favorite art movements to teach is Surrealism. I especially enjoy introducing it to my students who are in the upper elementary – middle school grade levels. Developmentally, they are able to understand more abstract concepts. And age-wise they are all about silly non-sequiturs!

I had bookmarked images of Vladimir Kush’s surreal paintings; I was intrigued by how he incorporated objects or animals into a landscape. I decided to create a collage/painting project inspired by his artwork. When I introduced the concept of Surrealism to my fourth graders, I pointed out how he had used animals as the sails of a ship or as a bridge. I explained that they were going to be choosing an image to use as a part of a landscape or cityscape.

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

After introducing the concept of Surrealism, I asked my students to cut out an image from a magazine. I suggested that they choose an image that was interesting to them and then start brainstorming ways to turn it into a part of their landscape. When I do this project again, I’ll frame that challenge differently. I realized a better prompt would be: “Cut out an interesting image. Draw a background for it that doesn’t make sense. Where would you least expect to see this object or animal?”

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

I gave them tips on how to carefully cut it out so that the details showed. Being a stickler on the craftsmanship aspect of this step made a big difference in the impact of how their artwork looked when they glued down their image. The hardest part of managing this project was helping the kids keep up with their magazine image as they were sketching, coloring and painting the background. Gluing down the image was the very last step, but cutting it out had to be the first step. I spent a lot of time reminding kids to put their images in their table folders where they would be safe!

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

After they cut out their image, they traced it’s outline on their paper so that they could see where they were going to glue it down. Then they sketched a surreal background that involved their image. This step was tricky for some of my students. I spent a lot of that class period walking around and brainstorming with them. Next time, I think I’ll have them do a quick brainstorm with their tables before we even pass out the paper.

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

I love introducing watercolor pencils to my students! It is a pretty magical art supply – and it’s fun to tie in a little science and explain that the difference between these pencils and regular pencils is that the lead is water-soluble. I also point out the paintbrush logo and emphasize how important it is that they don’t get mixed in with the
“normal” colored pencils.

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

Coloring the background took a solid day and a half for most of my students. This was one of those projects where I had students finishing at vastly different rates. I went ahead and played the video about painting the watercolor pencil background as soon as the first student was ready to move on to that step – even though there were students who hadn’t started coloring their background. I also designed a drawing project that tied into Surrealism that they could easily transition to if they finished their painting early.

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

In the past, I’ve noticed that the biggest issue kids run into with watercolor pencils is not realizing that you have to wash your brush in between colors. So, in my video I showed them what not to do. I painted all over a section of my example, smearing together 6 or 7 colors into one big, muddy mess. It was funny to hear their gasps of astonishment! And it was the first year I didn’t have any heartbroken artists who had painted over several different colors.

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

This was one of those projects that was a little overwhelming to tackle for the first time. It had so many different aspects that had to all come together in each student’s head. (Which I’m realizing is difficult to do when you see them once every six days!) Now that I’ve tried it out, I’m excited to fine-tune it for my next group of students.

Watercolor Grid

Draw a grid with crayon and fill it with letters. Paint over it with watercolors to create a wax resist.

After discussing a painting by Jasper Johns, second graders drew a grid using crayon and filled each square with a letter of their name. Then, they painted over their drawing with watercolors.

Art Lesson Video: Watercolor Grid, Part 1 & Watercolor Grid, Part 2

PowerPoint: Watercolor Grid

Supplies:

  • 9″ x 12″ poster board
  • Rulers
  • Crayons
  • Watercolor paints
  • Brushes

 

Draw a grid with crayon and fill it with letters. Paint over it with watercolors to create a wax resist.

I love the first painting project I do with second graders! They are ecstatic when I start our class by saying, “Today we are going to begin our watercolor project.” This year, I decided to do a lesson that used watercolors along with crayons. When I saw Kristin Thomas’s post about a Jasper Johns-inspired project on her blog For the Love of Art, I knew I wanted to try it out. After they observed Jasper John’s artwork that used a grid filled with letters, I showed them a video about how to draw their own grid and trace over it with crayons.

Draw a grid with crayon and fill it with letters. Paint over it with watercolors to create a wax resist.

At first, I was worried that splitting this project into 2 days would leave us with too much extra time. It ended up being perfectly timed. We definitely need a whole class period to draw the grid and fill it with letters. After the video, I reviewed the steps to drawing the horizontal and vertical lines for their grid (with hand motions, of course!) Those few extra minutes made a huge difference with helping them remember how to use their ruler.

Draw a grid with crayon and fill it with letters. Paint over it with watercolors to create a wax resist.

I toyed with the idea of adding measuring into the mix, but I’m glad I didn’t. Just using the ruler as a straight edge was a lot for them to process. I made sure to tell them that their squares didn’t have to match. In fact, it would make their artwork even more interesting if they didn’t! I also emphasized in the video and during class that they had to press down hard with the crayon. If they didn’t, the letters wouldn’t show through the paint.

Draw a grid with crayon and fill it with letters. Paint over it with watercolors to create a wax resist.

In my example, I used the letters of my name to fill the grid. I let the kids decide if they wanted to do their name, another word or just random letters. Most kids decided to use their name. I think next year it might be fun to use adjectives that describe them.

Draw a grid with crayon and fill it with letters. Paint over it with watercolors to create a wax resist.

Painting day was so much fun! In the video demonstration, I focused on just the basics of how to use watercolors. It was exciting to watch all of the different experimental directions that the kids went with their artwork. Some kids experimented with letting colors bleed together. Other kids tried out mixing more than one color in a square.

Draw a grid with crayon and fill it with letters. Paint over it with watercolors to create a wax resist.

Overall, this one of my favorite painting projects that I’ve done with second grade. It was the perfect balance of structured and loose. And it was an amazing introduction to the magical world of watercolors!

Earn Art Centers using a Color Wheel

I use Color Wheel Charts to reward each class for following my expectations for their behavior. When they fill their Color Wheel, they earn a Centers Day!

Supplies:

Use Color Wheel Charts to help your art classes earn a Centers Day.

When I taught middle school, I used a system where students earned minutes towards their “Free Art Friday.” It was the perfect way to give them an incentive to get through transitions quickly and clean up quickly. I wanted to modify that same idea so that it would work with the rotation schedule I have at the Elementary School.

Use Color Wheel Charts to help your art classes earn a Centers Day.

Use Color Wheel Charts to help your art classes earn a Centers Day.I started by brainstorming what behaviors were the most important to keeping our Art Room running smoothly. In order to earn their color: they have to follow my expectations about volume, clean up quickly and line up quietly.

I use our stoplight ART letters as a visual reminder of  the volume level. If it is on green, it means our volume is right on target. I warn a class when they are getting too loud and let them know that if it doesn’t get quieter, I will have to take down the green “A”. They can earn the “A” back by changing their volume. My students really respond to the simple visual reminder of the “A” being taken down.

I have a set of alarms on my computer that let each class know when it’s time to clean up and when it’s time for us to leave. After the first timer goes off, I give directions about what we need to do to clean. Depending on the project we are working on, they have 5-10 minutes to clean their table and go stand on their number for our Circle Up. During Circle Up, the Artist of the Day chooses people who are standing quietly to answer a creative thinking question.

Use Color Wheel Charts to help your art classes earn a Centers Day.

When our second alarm goes off, it means it is time for us to leave. Before they leave, I ask them to give me a thumbs up or a thumbs down as we talk through each of the three expectations they had to meet to earn their color. If they met them all, I pull out a color and put it onto their Color Wheel. If they missed one of the expectations, we review what they need to do to earn their color next time.

Use Color Wheel Charts to help your art classes earn a Centers Day.

After the first couple of rotations, I realized it was hard for me to keep track of how each individual class was doing. I decided to add the component of Extra Special Centers so that the classes that consistently earned their color would get an extra reward. I created a chart that has three circles for each class and stapled it to the envelope that holds their colors. Every time they earn a color, I cross one of the circles off. If they earn a color three times in a row, when we have centers they get a couple of Extra Special Centers like paint, Playdoh or Legos.

Use Color Wheel Charts to help your art classes earn a Centers Day.

There were a handful of fourth grade classes that were having a difficult time earning a color. In those groups, most of the kids were on task and meeting the expectations. But there was a small group of kiddos who were struggling. I didn’t like the idea of everyone missing out on centers because of the choices a few kids were making. So I created a special “Individual Centers” seating chart. I explained that each kid would being earning their color individually. It is a lot of extra work! But I saw a big difference in the overall class’s behavior once they were each held accountable as individuals.

 

 

Not Your Average Coloring Center

Elementary art students can choose to go to a coloring page center where they re-invent artwork by an artist they just learned about.

PowerPoint: Table Artists 2015 & Table Artists 2016

Supply Box Labels: Table Name ImagesTable Names

Coloring Pages: Kusama ColoringLange Coloring

This is the second year I’ve named each of my tables after famous artists. I decided to add a new element to our discussions about these artists on Centers Day. I created a Coloring Page center, where students can re-create a painting by the artist we just talked about.

I will admit, I never thought I would incorporate photo-copied coloring pages into my art classroom. (I love having students create their own coloring pages!) I was looking for a way for kids to spend more time thinking about our table artists, and this turned out to be a great way to make that connection.

At the beginning of our Centers Day, I give the kids a little background information about one of the artists our tables are named after. Then I have them talk with each other about one or two pieces of their artwork. Focusing the mini art history lessons on our table artists has definitely increased their connection to the artwork. They get so excited to hear about the artist their table is named after!

This year I wanted them to have the opportunity to work on something they could take home with them. Only seeing them once a week makes it hard for them to retain the vocabulary words that we cover. Remembering an artist’s name is even trickier!

I was able to find a lot of pre-made coloring pages online. I created one for Dorothea Lange by putting her self-portrait in PowerPoint and changing the contrast. I also found a great website called Luna Pic that will take an image and turn it into a coloring page. The page I created using one of Yayoi Kusama’s paintings turned out great!

I have really enjoyed watching the way that they bring their own creativity to another artist’s work. I also love seeing coloring pages on display in other teachers’ classroom after a student gives it as a gift!

Chalk Pastel Observational Drawings 

Students create observational drawings using chalk pastel.

After observing still lives by Georgia O’Keeffe, elementary art students create their own “up-close” observational drawings.

Art Lesson Videos: Chalk Pastel Observational Drawings, Part 1 & Chalk Pastel Observational Drawings, Part 2

PowerPoint: Observational Drawings

Supplies: 

  • 9″ x 9″ colorful construction paper
  • Sharpie
  • Chalk pastels
  • Assorted objects

Students create observational drawings using chalk pastel.
I wanted to put a new spin on my usual Georgia O’Keeffe observational drawing project. In the past, I’ve had my students observe and draw flowers after learning about Georgia O’Keeffe. This year, my goal was to continue to focus on observational drawing and filling the whole paper, but to switch up the subject of their artwork.

Students create observational drawings using chalk pastel.

We started by discussing Georgia O’Keeffe’s artwork. Then I played my video demonstration for them which broke down the steps of looking at an object and drawing the lines and shapes you see.

Students create observational drawings using chalk pastel.

After the video I followed up with a couple of important reminders. I showed them how to pick a part of the object to go off the page. I also encouraged them that our goal was not to create exact photocopies of our objects. (If we wanted to do that we would use a camera!)

Instead, our goal was to be inspired to create interesting lines and shapes.

Instead, our goal was to be inspired to create interesting lines and shapes. Overall, this took a lot of the pressure off and allowed the kids to focus on drawing what they actually saw instead of being critical of their artwork.

Students create observational drawings using chalk pastel.
I chose objects that I had 6 multiples of; I did not want any “object envy” between tables to cause a disruption! I also tried to pick objects that were simple enough to sketch in one class, but with enough details to keep them interesting.

Students create observational drawings using chalk pastel.

Observational drawing with students of any age is always a little stressful. Some students have a hard time getting started and others are easily discouraged when their drawing isn’t turning out how they envisioned it.

Students create observational drawings using chalk pastel.

The best fix I’ve found is to let kids start on a fresh piece of paper when they get frustrated. And, of course, lots of pep talks! Another trick I’ve discovered for the kiddos who are about to give up completely is to offer them a “very special object” to draw. I have a couple of stuffed animals that work perfectly!


Most of them have time that first day to trace their pencil lines with Sharpie. If they have any extra time, I always have a Sketchbook Project that they can work on. For this assignment, they drew a spot they observed in the art room. They created so many fun drawings of our classroom!

Students create observational drawings using chalk pastel.

I love how much my students felt free to experiment with the chalk pastels. In the second video demonstration, I showed them a couple of techniques they could use. Chalk pastels ended up being the perfect medium for this project. They were able to finish adding color to their project in one class period. And the freedom they had with the pastels was nice balance to how intensely they had to focus on the observational drawings.

Students create observational drawings using chalk pastel.

I inherited the chalk pastel setup from the previous art teacher. Now that I’ve used muffin tins as a way to organize pastels, I can’t imagine doing it any other way. The kids had a wide variety of colors they could easily see and choose from. And I was able to put out the tiny little pieces that, in the past, I would have just thrown away.

Students create observational drawings using chalk pastel.
This combination of subject and medium was a great way of tackling drawing from observation and introducing an artist. It felt less fraught than other realistic drawing lessons I’ve done. And a little controlled mess along with some color mixing always makes for a joyful art class!

Draw a Verb

After reading Lines that Wiggle, second graders created a line drawing inspired by a verb.

After reading Lines that Wiggle, elementary art students drew lines inspired by a verb and colored their artwork using markers and colored pencils.

Art Lesson Videos: Draw a Verb, Part 1 & Draw a Verb, Part 2

PowerPoint: Draw a Verb

Supplies:

  • Lines that Wiggle by Candace Whitman
  • 9″ x 12″ drawing paper
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils

After reading Lines that Wiggle, second graders created a line drawing inspired by a verb.
I love connecting our projects to a book that we read as a class, especially with second graders. They are so enthusiastic and engaged when we sit together on the floor to read a story. Lines that Wiggle inspired me to create a drawing project that connected different kinds of lines to verbs.

After reading Lines that Wiggle, second graders created a line drawing inspired by a verb.

After reading the book, we talked about what a verb is and gave examples of different types of verbs. We drew lines in the air that could represent those action words. Then, I asked them to go to their table and write down a verb that they wanted to use for their drawing.

After reading Lines that Wiggle, second graders created a line drawing inspired by a verb.

Next they wrote their verb onto their drawing and created lines that showed the action. It was incredible to see how creative they were with the lines they chose to represent their verb. Most students were able to begin tracing their lines during the first class period.

After reading Lines that Wiggle, second graders created a line drawing inspired by a verb.

When I was making the video demonstration, I felt a little ridiculous breaking down how to use colored pencils to the very basics. After seeing the results, I’m glad I did! It’s easy to forget that second graders don’t have a lot of experience experimenting with colored pencils. Even knowing how to use a sharpener can be a challenge!

After reading Lines that Wiggle, second graders created a line drawing inspired by a verb.

For this project, I was a stickler about asking the kids to fill the whole page. In the video, I showed them a way to color in big spaces quickly. So when I had a quick finisher, I reminded them of how easy it was to color in the big background spaces.

After reading Lines that Wiggle, second graders created a line drawing inspired by a verb.

At the beginning, I was curious to see how the students would respond to this project. I was a little worried that second grade was too early to make the jump of connecting abstract lines to the concept of a verb. It was exciting to see the wide variety of responses they came up with.

After reading Lines that Wiggle, second graders created a line drawing inspired by a verb.

 

 

Shapes and Sizes

Elementary students use markers and crayons to create artwork using big, medium and small shapes.

Elementary art students used markers and crayons to create artwork with big, medium and small shapes.

Supplies:

  • 9″ x 12″ white paper
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Pencils, erasers

Downloadable PowerPoint: Shapes and Sizes

Elementary students use markers and crayons to create artwork using big, medium and small shapes.

The beginning of the year with second graders is always a little crazy. My class is the first time they have ever gone to Art Class! (Before, their homeroom teachers would do art and crafts projects with them.) So, we have a lot of procedures and expectations to learn and practice.

Elementary students use markers and crayons to create artwork using big, medium and small shapes.

We started off the first day with a drawing game, which gave them a chance to practice some procedures and also got them thinking about composition and creativity. For our first multi-day art project, I wanted to build on those ideas.

Elementary students use markers and crayons to create artwork using big, medium and small shapes.

At first, I was nervous that the prompt of drawing big, medium and small shapes would be too simple or boring. But, wow – did they get into it! I told them they could draw any kind of shape anywhere on their paper. I made a big deal about how they could make completely different choices with their drawing than I had made in my unfinished teacher example.

Elementary students use markers and crayons to create artwork using big, medium and small shapes.

Their imaginations took over! I loved seeing how unique each piece of artwork was. When it was time for them to trace and add color, I had them circle up around my demonstration table while I showed them a couple tricks about using the markers and crayons.

Elementary students use markers and crayons to create artwork using big, medium and small shapes.

I like to frame them as “tricks” instead of “the right way to use the supplies” because it makes them feel confident to experiment with the supplies in the art room. I showed them how to trace the shapes with marker by turning their paper so that their hand stays comfortable. I also demonstrated how to color the shapes by coloring the outline first and then filling in the middle.

Elementary students use markers and crayons to create artwork using big, medium and small shapes.

When we got to the background, I told them they could color it in a solid color or use a lot of different colors. Background was definitely a new word for some of them! On the second day, I reviewed with them that the background was the space around their shapes, not the back of their paper.

Elementary students use markers and crayons to create artwork using big, medium and small shapes.

This year, I’m trying to give my students more ownership of their art. One of the most powerful ways I’ve discovered is to give them the control of saying when the art is finished. In the past, I would insist that every kid color in every part of their paper.

Elementary students use markers and crayons to create artwork using big, medium and small shapes.

This year, student tells me why they want to leave the background blank (and it can’t be “because I don’t feel like coloring!”) and then they turn it in. I can see a big difference in the confidence and pride they feel as artists!

 

 

Creative Thinking at the End of Art Class

Create a smooth end-of-class transition by asking students creative questions once they are lined up.

Downloadable Question List: Circle Up Questions

Downloadable Blank Template: Circle Up Template

End art class with Circle Up! questions that get kids thinking creatively.

 

It is a balancing act, figuring how much time to give kids to clean-up at the end of art class! Too little time, and you’re left with a messy room and frustrated students. Too much time and you are standing around with an extra 5 minutes on your hand and a group of kiddos who might start misbehaving out of boredom. I was antsy to come up with a routine that would productively fill those last 2-3 minutes of class when we are lined up and waiting for our alarm that signals the end of art class.

I decided to create an end-of-class ritual that would get my students thinking creatively instead of requiring them to regurgitate facts.

I have done the usual “ask questions about the vocabulary or art history that we learned about this week…” Even when I tied it to incentives, my students quickly got bored and the routine felt monotonous. I decided to create an end-of-class ritual that would get my kids thinking creatively instead of requiring them to regurgitate facts.

During our in-service at the beginning of last year, the counselors presented the idea of circle time. For the homeroom classes, this is a way to have heart-to-heart talks and deal with behavior issues. I thought I might be able to change it a bit and use it as a way to wrap up art class.

I create a “line” that wrapped around my room in a circle. Each yellow arrow has a seat number written on it in Sharpie, so kids easily know where they need to line up. (I cover the arrows with packing tape so the Sharpie doesn’t wear off right away. They look pretty rough by the end of the year, but it does the trick!)

End art class with Circle Up! questions that get kids thinking creatively.

I created a list of questions that would spark my students’ imagination, help them get to know each other better as artists or just plain make them laugh! Last year I printed up a list of questions for each day of the week and posted it on my bulletin board. This year I printed blank pages that I can fill in at the beginning of our 6 day rotation. (I’m slowly learning to simplify!) As the year progresses, I think I’ll ask the kids to come up with their own questions and add them into the mix!

I created a list of questions that would spark my students’ imagination, help them get to know each other better as artists or just plain make them laugh!

Each day, our Artist of the Day pulls a number out of the cup. The kid standing on that number gets to hold the paintbrush (only the person with the brush gets to talk!) and answer the question. We repeat this process until it’s time to leave. Usually 2-5 kids get a turn to share; and I tell the ones that are super disappointed that they didn’t get to talk that they can tell me their answer as they walk out the door.

End art class with Circle Up! questions that get kids thinking creatively.

It has really changed the atmosphere of my classroom during those last few minutes. It has become such a special time that when a class runs out of time because they were slow cleaning up, I have students telling me how sad they are that we don’t get to do Circle Up that day!

 

 

 

 

 

Warm and Cool Shapes

Students glue down organic and geometric shapes, then fill the background with warm or cool colored lines. Elementary art project

After cutting and gluing organic and geometric shapes, elementary art students use warm or cool colored markers to fill the background of their artwork with lines.

Art Lesson Videos: Warm and Cool Shapes, Part 1 & Warm and Cool Shapes, Part 2

PowerPoint: Warm and Cool Shapes

Supplies:

  • 9″ x 12″ white paper
  • Sets of warm and cool colored construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Sets of warm and cool colored markers

Students glue down organic and geometric shapes, then fill the background with warm or cool colored lines. Elementary art project

I really enjoyed starting the year with this project! It was the perfect balance of structure and freedom. I was inspired by a lesson I saw on Art Tango and decided to make it appropriate for my third graders by allowing them to make more of the artistic decisions. I tried to step back during the first day while they were cutting out and gluing down shapes. I wanted them to have the creative freedom to make different choices than the steps they saw in the demonstration video.

Students glue down organic and geometric shapes, then fill the background with warm or cool colored lines. Elementary art project

I wanted them to have the creative freedom to make different choices than the steps they saw in the demonstration video.

Students glue down organic and geometric shapes, then fill the background with warm or cool colored lines. Elementary art project

I let them decide how big or small they wanted their shapes to be. I didn’t put any limitations on how many shapes they needed to have or if their shapes could overlap. During the first day of this project, our room had that pleasant buzz of kids working! I overheard so many great conversations as they brainstormed with each other about their art.

Students glue down organic and geometric shapes, then fill the background with warm or cool colored lines. Elementary art project

On the second day, I had some kids that jumped right in to drawing lines to fill their background. There were other students who needed a little more direction one on one. I told them to start out by drawing an outline around each shape three times. After that, I showed them how to fill in the new spaces their outline had created.

Students glue down organic and geometric shapes, then fill the background with warm or cool colored lines. Elementary art project

In the demonstration video and during class, I made sure they knew that they could be creative and come up with their own way of using lines to fill the back ground. It was so much fun to see how unique everyone’s artwork was!

Students glue down organic and geometric shapes, then fill the background with warm or cool colored lines. Elementary art project

This was a great project to set the tone for how the art room operates. Students had a chance to see that they have the creative freedom to make different choices about their art. The project also had enough structure that they were able to learn the art room procedures and expectations.

Students glue down organic and geometric shapes, then fill the background with warm or cool colored lines. Elementary art project

 

 

A Flexible Way to Assign Art Jobs

Color-coded seats provide a flexible way to assign jobs in art class.

Video Tour: Vinyl Tape in the Art Room

When I started teaching art at an elementary school, I tried out two ways of assigning clean-up jobs that totally failed. I lovingly crafted a job chart with velcro labels that would rotate each table through a job they would do at the end of class. I quickly realized that having pre-determined jobs did not work when our materials changed almost weekly!

Color-coded seats provide a flexible way to assign jobs in art class.

Then I tried to simplify my approach. I had a list of three things that every student needed to do – put up their artwork, clean their table, then clean the classroom. That kind of freedom would have worked great in a high school room, but it was way too vague for 7-10 year olds!

Color-coded seats provide a flexible way to assign jobs in art class.

That kind of freedom would have worked great in a high school room, but it was way too vague for 7-10 year olds!

After reading a post on Your Teacher’s Aide about the wonders of floor marking tape, my mind started whirling with ways I could use it in my classroom. I use it to mark my floor for Circle Up time, our demonstration table, and the sink line. But by far, my favorite use is that it marks my tables by seat number and job color.

Video Tour: Vinyl Tape in the Art Room

Color-coded seats provide a flexible way to assign jobs in art class.

My seats are numbered 1-24 and each seat at a table has a different color. I write the numbers onto a square of floor marking tape with a Sharpie. After 6 weeks, they have to be replaced. But they are lasting so much longer than my previous paper covered with packing tape solution.

Color-coded seats provide a flexible way to assign jobs in art class.

At the bottom of my dry erase board I sectioned off spaces for each of my grade levels. I wrote the grade with Sharpie (it comes off when you color over it with a dry erase marker). I can write the jobs for a specific day using a dry erase marker and change those jobs whenever our materials change.

Color-coded seats provide a flexible way to assign jobs in art class.

This has streamlined our classroom procedures in an incredible way. All I have to say is, “Red squares get a cup of markers for your table.” And boom! They know what they need to do! When it’s time to clean up, each kid is responsible for putting away whatever they got out.

When it’s time to clean up, each kid is responsible for putting away whatever supply they got out.

I also have a student who’s job it is to put up the tables folders that have their artwork in them. Which makes it really easy to redirect students who refuse to stop working when it’s time to clean up. A simple, “Please give her your artwork so that she can do her job” usually does the trick!

It was a bit of an investment to buy all of the colors I needed to make this system work. It was around $30 for 4 rolls of tape. (And we know all of those purchases at the beginning of the school year add up fast!) But I’m starting on year two with this tape, and the rolls are still going strong. Hands down, the best $30 I spent on my classroom last year!