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.

 

 

Advertisements

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Connect with Students by having an Artist of the Day

When we switched to a schedule where I would be seeing every student in our school every 6 days, my first concern was figuring out a way to connect with each of our 860 students. It was dizzying prospect; I was unsure of my ability to remember each of my student’s names, much less get to know them.

My first concern was figuring out a way to connect with each of our 860 students.

During a conversation with our Music teacher, I remembered the solution my cooperating teacher in college had come up with – The Artist of the Day. It ended up being such a simple solution to what felt like an overwhelming problem that both the Music and GT teachers ended up creating a similar system in their classrooms!

Connect with individual students by having an Artist of the Day.

My mentor teacher had an old school desk that she was brightly painted where the Artist of the Day got to sit. My room is cramped as it is, so I started brainstorming other ways to make the Artist of the Day feel special. My first thought was to let them wear a special apron.


I decided to keep it simple and painted one of my old adult aprons. I would rather it be too big on a second grader than not fit a fourth grader. (When a second grader wears it, I fold the bottom part up before I tie it around them, which seems to do the trick.) I let the kids decide if the want to wear the apron or not. Some kids are most excited about getting to wear it and some are grateful that they don’t have to.

Connect with individual students by having an Artist of the Day.

They also get to have a special placemat to do their artwork on. This was by far the easiest part of my setup. Poster board, Sharpies and a laminator – couldn’t be easier! Some of my kiddos were confused about what a placemat is, so I started showing them how to use it when I introduced the Artist of the Day to each of my classes.

The placemat helps me to remember to check in with that particular kid through out the class period.

The placemat helps me to remember to check in with that particular kid throughout the class period. I ask them questions about their artwork, about what they did last weekend, and best of all – I learn their name and remember it!

Connect with individual students by having an Artist of the Day.

The part that the kids like the best is the sticker they get to wear all day. I used sheets of 30 mailing labels and created a template to print them on. My one complaint is that the labels aren’t super sticky. Even by the end of class they start to fall off of the kids’ shirts, so I’m not sure if they make it all the way home at the end of the day.

Connect with individual students by having an Artist of the Day.

I explained to the kids that at the beginning of the week I randomly pick a number from the cup and that is the seat number that gets to be Artist of the Day in all my classes. Each class period, I mark that student’s seating chart with a star. That way I’ll remember who has already had a turn, even if they move seats.

Connect with individual students by having an Artist of the Day.

Our fabulous music teacher came up with a great way to honor her Musician of the Day! She created a bulletin board and each student gets to sign the display when it is their turn. We both use our special student of the day to help us out with any jobs that need to be done. In my class, they are always in charge of drawing numbers out of the cup to see who gets to answer the question during our Circle Up time at the end of class.

Connect with individual students by having an Artist of the Day.
The kids are so excited when it’s their turn! I love hearing them tell their homeroom teacher all about it when she comes to pick them up from art. My favorite part is that it truly is random – there have been some classes where the Artist of the Day ended up being a kid who had been acting out during those first five minutes of class. What a huge shift in their attitude and behavior when they find out it’s their turn! In the crazy world of teaching art, it has turned out to be a simple ritual that reaps huge rewards.

 

 

 

Organize your Art Schedule with Color!

Classroom Video Tour: Organize with Color!

Seating Chart Template: Seating Charts

I was lucky to find out what my schedule for this year would be about a month before summer started. That gave me time to wrap my head around changing from a quarterly system where I saw third and fourth graders every day for nine weeks, to a schedule where I would see the whole student population once every 6 days. I jumped into high gear and started making sketchbooks like crazy. Students who had finished a project early were eager to join our assembly line of counting, folding and stapling paper.

Use color coordination to organize complicated elementary art class schedules.

When I locked up my room for the summer I had stacks of over 900 sketchbooks sitting in my closet. But I hadn’t quite decided how I was going to organize them. I knew I wanted to put them in plastic bins on the shelf. When I got back to school in August, I decided to work out a color coordinated system, so that every rotation day was the same color.

After putting labels on all 38 sketchbook bins, I stepped back and realized I had created a giant schedule wall that I could follow throughout the week.

Use color coordination to organize complicated elementary art class schedules.

After putting labels on all 38 sketchbook bins, I stepped back and realized I had created a giant schedule wall that I could follow throughout the week. (To make things extra complicated, my last three classes of the day are 2nd graders who are on a Monday-Friday rotation. Their bins got different colors.) In the morning I can glance at the sketchbook shelf and see which classes are coming to art.

Use color coordination to organize complicated elementary art class schedules.

The thought that stressed me out the most was keeping track of all of that “artwork in progress” from week to week! In the past, I’ve used my set of plastic drawers so that each class time has their own drawer to store their artwork in. I only have 9 drawers in all, and my room size and wallet couldn’t handle buying 29 more!

I decided to dedicate each drawer to a class time and store all six classes who come at that time in the same drawer.

I decided to dedicate each drawer to a class time and store all six classes who come at that time in the same drawer. I used the same color labels again on the outside of the drawer, so I can easily see where each class’s artwork goes.

Use color coordination to organize complicated elementary art class schedules.

Inside the drawer I have a big purple folder for each class. They were easy to make – 18″ x 24″ construction paper folded and stapled. I labeled each of those big purple folders with… you guessed it! The same colors that were on the sketchbook bins. Each big purple folder has six file folders labeled with the table names for my classroom. My students use the file folders to turn in their art at the end of class.

Inside the drawer I have a big purple folder for each class… Each big purple folder has six file folders labeled with the table names for my classroom. My students use the file folders to turn in their art at the end of class.

It was so much fun to change up the table names for the new year! I love picking new artists to highlight on each table’s supply box. It was time consuming to write artist names on the front and back of 228 folders, but they will also double as signs for the drying rack. And they make passing back artwork crazy quick and easy.

Use color coordination to organize complicated elementary art class schedules.

 

Another huge concern I had was finding a way to store all of the finished artwork for our Showcases at the end of the year. I spent a lot of time clearing off 7 of the big shelves at the back of my room. I labeled each shelf with the times for each class period and made larger folders out of thick poster board to create portfolios where I can store each class’ finished projects. We’ll see if they end up being big enough for a year’s worth of artwork.

Use color coordination to organize complicated elementary art class schedules.

For each class period, I labeled the folders using those same colors from the sketchbook bins. I’m only a couple weeks into the year, but so far I’m amazed by how much this color system has kept me from losing my mind! I feel like I finally have a handle on which classes are coming to my room at what times. And I’m not scared that I’m going to lose artwork. (Which is every art teacher’s greatest fear, I think.)

Use color coordination to organize complicated elementary art class schedules.

My other big undertaking was color coordinating my seating charts. I printed each rotation day on the same color paper I used for all of the labels. I have been using Post-it Notes, cut down to small rectangles, as a way of being able to easily move kids. This year, I was inspired by the Art of Ed’s Summer online conference to start dabbling in video demonstrations. I bought a selfie stick and filmed my usual first day of art “tour of the classroom.”

While the kids watched the video tour of the art room (which they were glued to!), I filled out seating charts for that class.

Oh man, what a life saver! While the kids watched the video tour of the art room (which they were glued to!), I filled out the seating chart for that class. It only took 5 minutes each class period, but that would’ve been 3 hours of planning period time! And it was so nice to know that every single class heard all of the same information. (After repeating myself that many times, I always forget important parts.

Use color coordination to organize complicated elementary art class schedules.
I may still be in the honeymoon phase, but I have high hopes for this organization system! I’m sure over the course of the year, I’ll be changing it here and there. But for now it makes me feel like I’ve got this crazy rotation schedule under control!

Seating Chart Template: Seating Charts

Combat Boredom with Sketchbook Projects

Students' sketchbooks are an amazing way to keep kids engaged when they finish a project!

Use sketchbooks as a way to extend students’ learning after they finish working on their art project for the day.

Supplies (for each book):

  • 12″ x 18″ construction paper
  • 4 sheets 12″ x 18″ drawing paper
  • Staples!

The best change I made to my classroom last year was introducing sketchbooks! The first quarter I used the old “you can free draw on computer paper when you’re done” strategy. Which, let’s be honest, is not a strategy that works very well! Giving students their own sketchbook added so much meaning to the shorter projects I gave them to do after they finished an assignment. Because they were invested in what they were creating, I saw a dramatic shift in how focused my students on their drawings.

At the beginning of the second quarter, I decided to make sketchbooks for my 3rd and 4th grade classes. I color coordinated my room by making each class a different color of the rainbow. On the first day of Art, I taught them how to draw block and bubble letters. They drew their names and filled them in with patterns using Sharpie.

On each of my PowerPoints, I added a slide at the end for the Sketchbook Project that kids would work on when they finished their artwork. They could always choose to go back and finish an old sketchbook drawing before they started the new one. For the Monster Sculpture project, the prompt was “Draw your monster’s family.” Some students decided to draw a group of monsters who looked similar and other monster families were very different.

The first sketchbook project my third graders did was after they completed their Shape Robots. After we talked about what a verb is, we brainstormed ideas of things they could draw their robots doing. It was incredible to see the wide range of ideas they came up with!

After the fourth graders finished their Notan Project, I showed them how to create radial symmetry by repeating shapes on a piece of circle graph paper. Creating mandalas was the perfect sketchbook project because it built on our discussions of symmetry for creating notans. The process of drawing mandalas is so calming; it was a nice break for the students who had gotten a bit stressed from the brain work that goes in to creating a notan.

One of my favorite sketchbook projects was the Roll a Miro game I found online. After my third graders finished their Miro Creatures using lines and shapes from Miro paintings, I taught them how to play the game. They rolled a dice to choose the eyes, body, arms and color scheme of their creature. Some students just played it once and spent a lot of time on their creature. Other students, who finished a day early, were able to create several creatures. This was a sketchbook project that the kids asked for me to bring out again after our next assignment, especially if they didn’t get a chance to do it the first time.

At the end of the Hybrid Animal project, my fourth graders drew their animal throughout it’s life cycle. I liked that this sketchbook project connected the artwork they created with scientific concepts. It was interesting to see how creative they got with imagining how their animal would look at different stages.

After they finished using pastels for their Castle Creativity project, I asked my students to draw an inside room of their castle. This was a great extension because they were able to tie in the theme and mood of their castle. A student whose castle was made of ice cream could create an interior drawing that showed the ice cream machines in the kitchen.

The comic book project was a huge hit! After my third graders finished their Pop Art Words, I invited them to create a comic strip in their sketchbooks. I had whole tables of kids working together and laughing about the stories they created! This was definitely a project that my students continued working on after the painting assignment was over.

One of the most rewarding parts of introducing sketchbooks into my class was seeing how proud my students were of their sketchbooks at the Showcase. I put the sketchbooks out on long tables in the hallway next to the mounted artwork displays. It warmed my heart to see kids looking through other students’ sketchbooks and asking their parents to take their photo with their own sketchbook.

It does take some extra time to put the books together before a new quarter starts. I have learned to offer art tickets for doing the job of “sketchbook-making.” Both my third and fourth graders can get quite an assembly line going as we all fold and staple the books together. Usually, I can get them all done in about a week with my students’ help.

 

Organize Artwork using Art History

Students learn art history through a coloring center that uses artwork from an artist their table is named after.

 Elementary students learn about and connect with the artists their tables are named after.

Downloadable PowerPoints: Table Artists 2015 & Table Artists 2016

Supply Box Printables: Table Artist Images & Table Artist Names

 

I only have my students for 28 class periods, which makes me want to fit art history into every facet of our classroom routines. I discovered a great way to expose my students to important art history figures while keeping their artwork organized and easy to pass out.

Students learn art history through a coloring center that uses artwork from an artist their table is named after.

The supply box at each table has their artist’s name taped on it, along with a portrait and example of the artist’s work. The names change each year, so that over a student’s experience at our school they will become familiar with 24 different artists. I choose a diverse group of artists from different time periods and styles.

Organize student artwork by naming tables after famous artists.

On Centers Days, we spend 5-10 minutes learning about one of the artists that their tables are named after. We discuss the artist as a class first, then each table discusses their answer to a question about specific works of art. I created a Coloring Page Center so that my students would have something tangible to help them remember each artist.

Organize student artwork by naming tables after famous artists.

I publish an art newsletter that keeps our faculty and staff informed about what is going on in the Art Room. I post it in the bathrooms and leave a stack in our waiting area for parents to read. Each month, I include a section about one of our table artists.

cassat

I created folders for each class that have their artist’s name written on both sides. This is how they turn in their artwork at the end of each period. I use the folders as a way to separate their art on the drying rack. It makes passing out artwork at the beginning of class so much easier!

Keep track of student artwork by naming tables after famous artists.

These simple routines have made our classroom run smoothly. Students always know how to turn in their art and at the beginning of the period they can get right to work. They are so excited when we get to learn about the artist that their table is named after!