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Sunday, February 6, 2011

They're done with their art, now WHAT?!

So we know as art teachers, art is the one place, very unlike a regular classroom, where their is a lot more independence and independent discision-making. Students work at different rates because everyone is different with their own personality. There's some students that 'get in the zone' immediately, don't talk, focus, and put lots of time and deep thought into their project for the day. Then there's another that is super excited, talks A LOT about their work with lots of  "Look at mine!! Look what I did!", and then there's the "I'm DONE!"...the student who hurries through, claims they're done and they've triumphantly finished their race to the finish (Really? Why? Isn't this more fun than all of those math problems you've had to complete that take forever before you got to my room? Why wouldn't you 'savor the flavor' here?).

 ART FREE TIME! Okay first of all, for the students who think they're 'DONE' I always have what I'm looking for on the board and go over those before we start, like a CHECKLIST! I keep an eye on the drying rack or class shelf for those speedsters and ask, "You went through the checklist? I think you need to walk up to the board and go through it again." That way if they physically have to make the walk over, they're more enclined to actually feel accountable to show me they're taking the time to go through the list. Then, it's in their hands if they followed directions or not when I look through the finished projects.

They love looking at the art in the books and looking for the "I Spy" items. It's pure sport yet they're making connections!

 I spoil my students like crazy with my art free time possibilities. I keep tons of scratch paper, extra copies, worksheets etc. in a container with buckets of crayons and my art supply drawers (each drawer is labeled pencils, crayons, colored pencils, markers so they know where to pull out items and put them away). I have TONS of art books and the students remember the art work in the interactive books like "I SPY" in art or the "Touch the Art Series" books. In these books they have to read, visually look for items, and connect with the art. Also creativity building activities like legos, Mr. Potato head, and the sought after Zolotopia funky sculpture building game articulate many creative learning concepts and freedom.  I also have M.C. Escher tessellation puzzles, funny card games(Pass the Fruitcake), Luck of the Draw, Art Memory, Old Mummy (old rummy), Ed Emberly's how to draw step by step books (they love them and show that anyone can draw using basic shapes and lines), Art Go Fish!

 I also feel these items should be benificial so I only have art/creativity based items. With the 'super fun factor', comes I DON"T CARE ABOUT MY ART LET'S CUT TO THE PLAY TIME! I tell students they must have things cleaned up and put away before entering the 'Free Art Time Area' .

Go Fish! in Art playing cards are very popular. They can also play it as a Match The Art Game and often tell me, "I've seen that before!" when I show and talk about famous artists work that we study.

 And yes, there's many times where I have to tell the students after squabbling over sharing, not following directions and cleaning up after  themselves, to come back and 'take care of buisness' and ban free time items. Another one of the rules is knowing how to put things back neatly and correctly. We go over that at the beginning of the year and they usually learn the hard way and have it taken away and I go over again how it's supposed to look. By taking it away they learn the correct way if they want to play with something. Putting away things correctly is part of clean up time. So they know if it's NOT taken care of properly within that time, it won't be available next time and I always check before we line up and talk about what I'm seeing, if it's done well or it didn't happen. Then it won't be a surprise if it's taken away.

I know you're thinking, "Oh mylanta, why spend all of your money doing this?" I can't help it. I am a child at heart and LOVE these free time art toys etc. probably more than them and yes, I know that they're going to rough them up aka destroy them overtime, but it's all about the experience, you know, and seeing them enjoy and connect with art. If 1 student says, "Do you remember how amazing art time was in Miss Oetken's Room?" or "Hey, I remember seeing that painting in one of Miss Oetken's books!", then it was TOTALLY worth it!


  1. Nice tips. I am trying to come up with more ideas for free time right now. These help. I don't have many books, though I check many out from the library. Thank goodness for online library reservation! I haven't pulled out my games this year, not sure why. I'm also considering putting out a large (1000 piece) puzzle for kids to put in a few pieces when they finish. I think it would make me CRAZY if any pieces disappeared, though.

  2. Thanks Angie! Yes, I'm sure the students would make it known it was the appocolypse if a puzzle piece or pieces were gone. Books from the library sounds like a good call!

  3. Do you have an example of a checklist or a compilation of your most common items found on the checklist that you could email me? I am a 1st year art teacher and am having an extremely hard time with kids not caring about their art and trying to rush through like it is a race and not wanting to try. It would be very helpful because I try to verbally encourage or have others tell them what they could do to make it better but then they just go back and do nothing for a few seconds or an extremely fast and bad version that sometimes ruins their artwork of the suggestion :(