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!


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.



Motivate Students with Art Tickets

It’s important to me that I have meaningful incentives built into my classroom routines. I wanted to use something more substantial than a box of trinkets to motivate my students. I came up with three different Art Tickets that students can choose from. I love that the tickets are for things that really matter to the kids, but are also completely or almost free for me to provide.

Motivate students using meaningful incentives.

The Sit By a Friend Ticket is a big hit because I have a seating chart that students have to follow every day, except for during centers. When a kid complains about not being able to sit where they want, I remind them that they can earn a ticket to choose their seat for a day.

Motivate students using meaningful incentives.

Our mascot is the eagle, so I bought a stuffed eagle that kids can have sit with them at their table for the day. I also brought in an octopus puppet that my dad gave me for Christmas. The kids love to us their Eagle Handler Ticket and have one of them sit at their table for the day. Some of my 4th graders even made necklaces for the eagle!

Motivate students using meaningful incentives.

The students work throughout the week to earn time for centers every Friday. On Fridays, I put out a Golden Ticket center. This is by far the most popular ticket! The play-doh and modeling clay were donated to my classroom (I think I’ve had the modeling clay for about 7 years now!) I fill the watercolor tub with paint trays that were used for a project, but still have all the colors in them.

At the beginning of the quarter, I have my students work in teams to do a scavenger hunt for important places in the art classroom. The winning table all get to choose an art ticket. That day I send home a wish list of supplies they can donate. I make sure to have items on the list that don’t cost any money, like old newspapers or magazines.When a student brings in supplies, they get to choose an art ticket.

Motivate students using meaningful incentives.

Students can also earn a ticket by helping me with a job. I have to make it clear that these are not the normal jobs they do when they clean up at the end of class. I keep a list of things I need help with and if a student finishes their work early or wants to help with something during Centers, I find them a job. I try to make sure that every student who wants to earn a ticket can. (I have been known to have someone organize the bookcases or dust the shelves if I am out of jobs, but a student is eager to help.)

For some classes, I award art tickets when a student or a few students are being a leader by following directions. I try not to lean on this strategy too much with my classroom management because it can cause other students to feel like I haven’t noticed how hard they are working. But every now and then, it’s nice to recognize outstanding behavior.

I love using this ticket system because it gets my students involved and excited about the art room and it is incredibly simple for me to maintain. Classes that bring their binders are responsible for keeping up with their tickets. I keep a baggie in the class drawer for tickets if a class is coming from PE or lunch, but they know they are responsible for writing their name on it and putting it up.

Downloadable Tickets: Golden Ticket, Sit with a Friend Ticket, Eagle Handler Ticket

Downloadable Poster: Earn an Art Ticket