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First Week Ideas

[ Beginning of the year ideas   |   Open House Activities  |  High School First Day Ideas ]


From Leah:

For each class in grades 1 - 4, I drew one large letter with thick black line, on an 18" x 24" (46 x 61 cm) sheet of paper.  Then I cut the paper into 3" x 3" (7.6 x 7.6 cm) squares.  Be sure to number the squares before you cut!  Each child in each class colored at least two squares, sometimes more because there are 48 squares for each class.  Guidelines for coloring were these:  your name needs to be somewhere on the front of the square; no black except if you want to use it for your name; if the square is separated by a black line, half of the square should be cool colors, half should be warm; if the square is blank, it should be all warm or all cool. Students were encouraged to create interesting patterns, but no pictures. After the coloring was done, we all went into the hall and I called numbers to assemble the letter on the wall (I used a double sided tape dispenser, which I recommend). Students were excited to guess what the squares were making, and what the whole thing would say in the end. Our letters spelled out, "Let's Get Art Smart!"

art night picture
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Submitted by Leah:
Lesson Plan: Let's Get Art Smart Puzzle

Leah's idea takes on a mosaic appearance. She wrote out large letters on 18" x 24" (46 x 61 cm) Drawing Paper. in bold Colored Markers. lines. Then she marked the back side with numbers to put the pieces back together and cut into 4" (10 cm) squares (you can make yours any size.) Each student was given at least two squares to complete. Where lines crossed, complementary colors were used. If students had a full square with no crossing lines - one dominant color was used or related colors. Leah then called numbers to assemble out in the hallway using double stick tape - the process went smoothly.


For a variation of this you could do a portrait of the principal or a well known work of art.  A good first day idea is for all to do a "piece of the puzzle". They can work on their piece while you are going over the rules with them. Doing the collaborative murals will give them the idea that they all must work together - each one  is important. You can easily do this on the first day with a little prep on your part ahead of time. The way I am going to describe it does not allow for creativity on their part - other than choosing colors and patterns. You can have them pick out their colors themselves - of give them color schemes slips (choose from a "fish bowl" at random).

To make it go smoothly on the first day and get the murals done, You could actually tape some roll paper up on the wall - project what you want the mural to be onto the paper and trace the lines yourself (go over them with black marker) Turn it over and grid the back side, number each square - then cut apart. Size of square would depend on how many students are participating in the mural.


This idea was posted to Getty TeacherArtExchange by Michal Austin several years ago.

art night picture
Click for larger image See similar lesson plan


Melissa Speelman's Starry Night
Sycamore Junior High
Complementary Colors

Well, we completed our "Starry Night" in complements in time for Open House. Students began work the second day of school. I split the painting into 30 squares and each student was responsible for translating the brush strokes in their square into complements. We began with a review of complements. What worked out nicely with this assignment was that not all colors were direct complements. In other words students had to deal with a variety of Intermediate colors as well BROWN which brought me to the list for help.

We had a great discussion about the complement of brown. It was nice to have so much input from the list. We discussed all of your ideas and finally decided to go with blue + white (which means our brown mixture would be orange + black to de-saturate).


My students took a lot of pride in the final work (which only took 2 days to create). The parents loved it. I feel it was a great review and a nice way to get students back it the Art groove. We tried to see the afterimage, but weren't too successful. More Beginning of year ideas below


Brown from Marvin Bartel

What is the complement of brown?

I love brown. I want my Stoneware Clay body to fire to a brownish color and have brown iron spots. To understand the complement of brown one must ask about the source of brown. Since brown has a fairly broad definition, students can get something that looks a bit brown by mixing two complements. This is okay if the definition of brown is mud - which has many possible subtle colors. Of course a pure neutral would not have a complement. It would be gray, but these casual mixtures are often not balanced well enough to be merely gray. Some look brown. These mixtures are artistically useful, but they may be hard to understand and categorize.


How can brown be learned experientially?

I often ask art students to experiment scientifically. They make visual notes (color swatches).  They see who can match a brown by experimentation and have a record of how they did it.  One way is to give the students each a small piece of paper cut from a sheet the teacher has previously painted brown.  Allow them only primaries, and black and white paint.  To make it easier, I tell them to try adding a bit of black to each of the secondary colors until they "discover" brown.


How to make the brown learning aide? What is the complement?

I see brown as one of several common color names that do not represent fully saturated color. Pink is a tint of red. Lavender is tint of purple.  Maroon is a shade of red, and so on.  To make the example brown, I make a medium orange (not too red and not too yellow).  I add a small touch of black to de-saturate it. This "brown" is "a shade of orange". If some white is added it will not be as dark and can becomes tan. Since the brown is based on orange, one could argue that brown is a complement of blue.


What is an Afterimage?

When the color receptors in the eye are bombarded by a saturated color, the visual system adjusts and compensates.  When looking away at a white wall, the altered visual system takes a second or so to normalize and an opposite (complementary) afterimage appears momentarily.  Afterimages will be less obvious from "color" that is not fully saturated (like brown) because the physiology of color vision does not need to adjust and compensate much for color that is de-saturated.  However, we also see afterimages after gazing at strong black and white contrasts.  Black becomes white in the afterimage.  Hence, a dark brown may even create a very pale blue afterimage.


Of course there is nothing more "artistic" about a brown that is based on orange, but this helps place brown in the scheme of things. A more advanced experiment might be, "How big is the brown family? How many ways can you show me that brown can be made?  None of them may look like the others, but they all must be brown." This would not be as scientific, so give each variation a poetic name.


Hope this helps clear these muddy issues a bit.

Marvin Bartel


Beginning of Year Ideas - First Day/Week

Funny Face Round Robin "Pass the Face, Please" - From Elizabeth Davis

I got an idea from a fellow art teacher that seems to be working great. After going over rules, grading etc, I tell them that we are going to practice a typical art class. Since I'm on the cart I have helpers at each table or set of desks to pass out supplies, each week it will different people. Then we go over putting name and class code (combination of their teachers initial and grade level, ex: H3 is Ms. "H"s 3rd grade- helps with getting their papers back to them) on their papers. The project is one that takes group co-operation and is to help jump start their creativity. We make silly faces by having each student start theirs off with an outside shape, pass to person on the right, they draw nose, pass to right, draw eyes, etc. Before each feature we talk about how we could be creative with it, this also helps them practice how I am going to get their attention. They usually start saying shapes they are familiar with such as square, circle, then I draw an organic shape and ask them what it is called, I get several answers then explain about what an organic shape is. I ask for an even sillier idea such as making the face shaped like a cupcake, suggest they look around the room to get ideas.


You can tell once they have caught on because you will get all kinds of answers. With the next features I try to get them to realize that they could change the number of eyes, the placement of nose, the color, the size as well as the shape. You get some really creative faces, then we talk about co-operation and working together, how sometimes it is hard but how it can be beneficial and why we might sometimes prefer to work alone, you will get at least 1-2 kids in each class that hate the idea for having someone else mark on their paper, and wont mark on someone else's, but most still went along with it anyway. I remind that part of their grade is on effort and that if they won't work on it they aren't giving any effort. Most love to be silly with their pictures and want to show you every new thing they put on theirs. Some classes got done in one day, others need another day to work on it, but will get done before the class time is up, so I thought about introducing critique and using it as a way to review elements.


Make a Folder/Elements Review - From Michal Austin

I do the same thing every year, but it works so well! I hand them 18x24" (46 x 61 cm) Tag board. which they fold in ½. We tape one side. They write their name at the top with Sharpie Fine Point Markers., then we have a gluing lesson where they glue on a coloring type sheet that has a Color Wheels and the elements. I remind them about small drops of glue and only to use 4 drops. With whatever time we have left we color the color wheel in order (primary, secondary, tertiary) with their new Crayons, AquaMarkers, Colored Pencils., etc. This lesson sets the tone for the year, it's funnier than a lecture, it's hands-on while being very guided, reviews past content, and reminds them on following directions.


The First Day of Art Class for the New Teacher - From Marvin Bartel

In bridge, if you have a weak hand, you do not get the bid and you cannot name the trump, but you do get to play first. If you have an Ace, you play it on the first round.  A first year teacher may not have a strong hand, but start with your Ace. Start with something that you are the most confident with and at ease with. Teach something you have done many times, but remember how it felt to do it first time.


A good first impression has several advantages. You and they will come to expect higher quality standards from each other. You are less likely to be depressed and apologetic. Students will expect to learn new things. Everybody likes learning from an expert.


This has been said many times, but starting with overemphasis on the details of classroom management is better than beating it into them after everything gets out of control. Inject humor into tense situations can be very useful. When things start to get chaotic, using reminder questions sounds less bossy than shouting out demands.


Having said this, do not start off too slowly.  Why waste the first day motivation on housekeeping and management issues? Use the pent up energy, good intentions, and excitement by giving them challenging hands-on practice work immediately when they enter the room.  They can do some skill practice that will help them excel and surprise themselves on their first project. Interrupt the work early enough to spend the last part of the class period explaining essential rules and expectations.  Do this every day until everything is covered.  Repeat the things that need repeating. The habit of getting to work as they come into class avoids problems and fights the tendency to waste time.


If the class requires homework, be sure to assign something to be finished before the second session.  Keep it small, but make it obvious that you are giving points for those who do it.  Those who forget get one chance to earn the points, but they have to do half again as much work for the same points. To combat the problem of slip shod low quality homework give them a rubric that gives more points for quality work,  effort, and creativity.


End the period with an interesting art question to contemplate. What was learned or practiced that day?  Give them art related things to find in their everyday routines and surroundings. Remind them where to look for the instructions to get started when they come to class.  Tell them what to think about, look for, and/or remember in order to get better ideas for upcoming assignments.  As the teacher, follow up on these things and they will begin to think like artists.  They will teach themselves.  You will love your job.


Beginning of the Year Ideas for Elementary - from Carol K

  • A pre-assessment drawing (a self portrait, a shoe...) to save for comparison/growth at the end of the year

  • Designing your portfolio (to contain artwork all year)

  • Various name design projects

  • For Pre-K: coloring in a circle, square, & triangle & cutting them out in the first 1-2 days

First Day Ice Breaker - BINGO by Marty Reid

I noticed there are six blocks down instead of five - so they need one more space to BINGO going down than across or diagonal.


You could give a little "prize" for the first BINGO across - first BINGO diagonal - first BINGO down - THEN one bigger prize for the first full card BINGO. Then a small treat for all who fill in the whole card. Prizes could be fun art supplies (like Gel Pens. - or something like that). Oriental Trading company has lots of ideas for cheap prizes for something like this.


Personal Mandala Ice Breaker for Middle School

Here is an idea I liked to do the first day while I was going over the rules. Personal Mandala


I made my own handout... lesson was not about religion... it was about personal identity - hopes and dreams - values (more on character education) - and it set the tone for the trimester. My lessons were all about character education (although those details are not written into my plans.... takes too much time to write it all down). Students finished it for homework (due at end of the week).


"Vanity" Plates for Middle School/High School from Carolyn Roberts

Give everyone a card... maybe 4" x 6" up to 9" x 12" (10 x 15 cm up to 23 x 30.5 cm)... whatever you have handy. Have them fold it tent style.  On one side they print their name... and on the other side, they design a vanity tag about something they like to do or something about themselves.  Then... you go around the room and they introduce themselves and then tell about their drawing... which can be symbols, letters (8 only), or a combination.


Life Size Portrait Drawings from Carolyn Roberts

I did a lesson in middle school that went over great. I had the students lay down on a large piece of white Paper Rolls.... then they drew around each other... then drew in the features and colored them. These were displayed along the halls... especially before the first PTA meeting. (These could be backed by cardboard for movable figures - create groupings).


But another MS art teacher collected several large pieces of cardboard and had some of the students do the same thing. So along with some of the pictures posted in the hallway... she had the cardboard figures standing in the bushes outside the school... so that everyone saw them as they entered for either Open House or PTA.


"Found Art" Middle School/High School - from Jancy Cossin

One year, Jancy did Found Art (from a suggestion summer 2--4 on Getty list) with her students the first day instead of pounding rules into their heads. They got the rules, just not at the start of class. Expectations were reinforced as they worked on their Found Art while she goes over them. Most of them she had for a year or two anyway so they knew her expectations.


Go to to see what sparked this lesson. (Archive)


It was where you create a small artwork and leave it somewhere. Jancy did it with all of her students (about 160) and they had to leave them somewhere in the community for someone to find (get community businesses on board) There was a sticker on it with her class web page. On there, She had  information about the project and then they could email her about the one they found. She had the students do them on those large mailing tags with a hole and string on it and each numbered so that the finder can identify which one they had.


First Day Elementary Art Procedures from Jeryl Hollingsworth

I teach Kindergarten-5th. I make a little check list so I know which classes got which info and how much accomplished the first day. I make a seating chart which is a diagram of the tables and write in their names - then I can use it while I'm calling on them until I know all their names. (you really need it for kindergarten because usually you can't even understand them when they tell you and most of them can't write their name legibly - luckily the aide stays with me) I staple the seating charts together in the order I see the classes for each day. So I have a Monday seating chart, Tuesday etc...


I go over the rules and consequences which are posted on the wall. I go over their reward system. (A big paper crayon box, made out of a manila envelope with art rewards written on it) When the class leaves, if they have had a good day, cleaned up on time, etc.. one student takes a paper crayon (laminated strip of Construction Paper about 2X12 (5 x 30.5 cm) with the end cut in a triangle). The go in order r,y,b,g,o,p,b,w,br and when a class has earned nine Crayons they get to have a free choice art day. I do this with grade 1 through 5.


I introduce the focus artists for the year - their names hang on a sign above the tables. Usually I choose artists that go with our school wide theme for the year. This year our theme is something like spotlight on students learning and the theme is Hollywood or movies. So I'm doing star artists from South Carolina. I put their name up in lights outside my room (literally). To make this go quickly, I make a Power Point with photos or self-portraits of the artists and 6-12 examples of their art and some quick facts. I play this through my big screen TV and introduce them while it plays - the kids that sit at the artists table get to stand when they see their artist.


Then they do their first day drawing- fold a copy size paper in 4ths and draw a person, animal, tree and building. They date it and write their class code. I keep a file box for each grade with a folder for each student in it. These first day drawings go in the box and we save them until their 5th grade graduation when they get the folders. I stress while they are drawing how they should be getting better, more details, horizon  line etc.. especially for the older ones. If they finish early I have word search with the table artists names and words about their art.


For kindergarten, I intro myself and the art room , ask them what they think they will do and then make a big deal of showing them stuff. Like if a kid says maybe we'll paint in here. I say, yes, look at all the brushes, and I have big bottles of paint, little bottles, etc.. If they say, cut I say , yes I have regular Scissors. and crazy scissors (give a little demo) Just to show them and get them excited. Then I have a paper ready that I wrote a little letter for their parents ....Today we went to art. We met Mrs. H and saw lots of things in the art room that we will use. We learned where we will sit. Here is what Mrs. H looks like.  Then I have a big frame on the page . I pose and they draw with me with pencil. It doesn't take them long and I have a book ready to read on the floor while the aide goes and copies the page. We send it home that day and I keep the copy to go in their folder. They do this instead of the 4 part drawing. Always have some easy art books on hand to share if you finish early. They work at such a wide range that you will have very quick finishers and ones that will take all  of the class time . I like to read to the early finishers or hold up their work and let them stand with it and share with the others.


I use Sketchbooks. with 3-5th graders which they make with prong pocket folders (5 cents (4 Euros) most places) I but enough for all with my PTO money. They put in 25 sheets of Copy Paper. and decorate their covers with Colored Markers.. We'll do that next week and maybe do the pretzel drawing lesson. I'll start an art book with kindergarten next week that takes 6 weeks to finish.


First Day Drawing from Jeryl Hollingsworth

On the first day that I meet with classes, besides doing a seating chart and going over the rules, I have each student do a drawing on copy paper with pencil only. They fold the paper to make 4 boxes. The instructions are simple -in one box draw a person, in another draw any animal, in another draw a building and in another draw a tree. They date the pages and I file them. I have a file box for each grade level and I keep the folders for each student until they "graduate " in 5th grade and I send them home. Parents are thrilled with a record of their children's art. The students look forward to filing their work and looking back at their previous drawings. I also use table artists ( sign hangs above each table with the name of an artist on one side and a print of their work on the other- and a matching sign is on their supply caddy) I use the artists name when I call the table to line up and we study those artist during! the year in lots of ways. So to introduce the new artists each year I do a power point of all of them and we watch it the first day also. I make a word search of the artists name for students to do when they finish their drawings.


For older students, do the drawing of the house, person, tree and animal combining in any creative way. Don't put names on the papers at first. Collect papers, then pass them out to different students. The student write a paragraph about the drawing they received. See suggestions in this writing activity.


First Day/Week from Dan Cherney


I have found that it really pays off to be clear, direct, and even make posters of the TOP FIVE or TOP TEN RULES. You can always soften up later on, but getting stricter as the year progresses is about as easy as getting purple from a color palette of only red and yellow!


The second thing I have found useful is:


I have found wide and often surprising variances between grades and even individual classes. Simple drawings of their hands (freehand) or a 15 minute rendering of a very simplified still life will help you to find out a wealth of info. I have many of my own methods for figuring out where a student has been and what they have learned. I also like to keep the first few projects brief and include a drawing project, a small craft project and even a short report on a famous artist that the students draw from a hat.


First Day Tip from Master Teacher

To establish the best relationship with students on the first day, start with a positive. The best positives in the classroom are what students can do and get to study this year in your class. Discuss both briefly on the first day - then teach a short lesson - and let students show evidence of learning success. Many first days have shortened classes. Don't spend that first day listing rules, regulations, and "can't do's." Instead, save these necessities for later in the first week when you can present them as values, benefits, and positives.


First Day Art Criticism Activity from Merrilee Gladkosky

I love to get out a pile of prints (these can be postcard sizes or larger) and give a stack to each table of 4-5 children (works well for primary grades and older grades as well). I ask them to look at them and put them into categories of their own devising.  Later we share what they put into categories and what similarities they found that connected to pictures.  These are always changing and different and encourage the students to look for themselves and trust their own ideas rather than having preconceived notions of mine to meet. We have one hour classes grades 1-6 and I would follow this by setting up class guidelines for the year and possibly a beginning sketchbook assignment.


First Day Seating Chart Activity from Shellee

I am going to put popular art images by famous artists on the back of my chairs, all different artists. When the students come in the first day they will be given a card with an artist name and on the back I will give them hints about the art work, they will have to identify the matching art image on the back of the chair, that is where they will sit for the year.


First Day - Seating Chart Poster from Judy Stenger

I like having the kids come in first day and find their assigned seats. It saves time, and a lot of groans and insecurity.


Most grading software offers seating charts templates, but I haven't seen one for eight tables of four.  So I took my own template, (with the table names of famous artists) and blew it up on the poster machine.  I made six of these blank posters and laminated them.   Now I can write kids names where I would like them to sit, using dry erase markers.  With all the first week roster changes, it saved re-doing the charts.  I fastened them to the chalkboard with magnets, so the kids could come in and find their seats.   It is also helpful to remind kids who tend to roam from table to table.  We can all see at a glance where the students "belong."  A simple reminder of "LOCATION" gets them back in their seats.


I can at least use them all year--maybe more. And I think I'll fasten them together with rings or something, so I can flip them on Easels..


The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher.


First Day Ideas for High School

Howard Gardner Multiple Intelligences - from Ruth Wilson

In addition to presenting her class syllabus and reviewing expectations and assigning some sketchbook assignments to assess ability, Ruth has her student do this online activity to determine their strengths.


"Based on the work of Howard Gardner, a simple online questionnaire is used to generate a picture of intelligences in the form of a wheel. The results filter enables users to compare wheels by age, gender and location. There is even a class tool to enable the teacher to get the 'class wheel'" - from Birmingham Grid for Learning.


"Doodle" Exercise - from Marcia H.

I do a "doodle" exercise. This is how I do it: I give everyone a piece of paper and ask them to use their own drawing utensil. I explain that I am going to read a series of directions that each student should follow. I tell them NOT to look at their neighbor's drawing, to listen carefully and do exactly what the directions say to do . I can repeat a direction as many times as they need it but I cannot answer questions like ,"what does that mean?" or "what am I supposed to do". Then while the class is silent, I read a series of directions out loud to the class, things like- "make a curve", "add three circles", "add 4 lines that are all based on the first line", add radiating lines to the circles", etc., usually I read 10 different directions. (I make them up using art related words like radiating, curve, thick, graduated, dashes, etc.) The kids feel uneasy, they feel like it is a test, they don't really know what is expected of them, they are afraid that they will "do it wrong", etc. but I keep encouraging them to just do what they think they "should" do.


Once everyone is finished- they hang their drawings up on the  board and we take a few minutes to look at them. I ask questions about "what similarities do you see?" "how are they different?" "what are they pictures of?" etc.; We analyze them a little. I then explain that this is an analogy of what art making is --- each artist in my class will hear the same things, see the same things, listen to the same directions, etc. - the same information will go into their brains yet each person will process it in their own way and will create something a little different---a different interpretation of the assignment. All products will be related and will solve the same problems yet will be individual and unique- this is what art is! I tell them that this is what I expect to happen with each art making exercise... that they will have a set of guidelines and criteria to meet, yet every student's work will (should) be unique and correct.


Many times, I have the kids use their "doodle" (the image they ended up with while following the directions) and use it as a motif. We have done many things with this... modified it, colored it, printed it, stamped it, turned it into a relief, a 3-D sculpture, etc. the idea being that almost anything can be used as a beginning for an artwork. This leads us into "where do ideas come from?" and how to develop an artwork from an abstract concept. This is a great focusing activity and a good way to put everyone on the a level playing field to begin with. The "talented" kids have no advantage over the less talented. Somewhere, I have a list of 20 words that describe ways to change/modify an image. Many times we use this list of words to make this original "doodle" into an artwork. Maybe you all will think of cooler things to do with this idea.


Round Robin Drawing - any level - from Nicole Brisco

Simple but fun.  You can do it from life or give a theme or idea. Everyone gets a sheet of paper and some drawing materials.  They place their name on the back side.


Place students in a circle if possible.  Students begin drawing and in about 3-5 minutes they must pass their drawings to the right.  This continues until the drawings make it back around.  I like to change up the amount of time... this keeps them on their toes and they laugh a lot. Some people like to be consistent and give 5 minutes per pass.


At the end post them and have the students select certain ones for the strengths, best composition, best value, most creative, use of color, strongest drawing, best contrast, abstract, etc.  You could give awards.


It is kind of luck since so many people work on the same work... but it also teaches the students that they can work with, and depend on each other in their class.  They tend to find what they are good at and add it to the drawing.


What is amazing is that even though all the same students worked on each piece they are all so different. It really gets kids open to the idea of individuality and options.


Provide some PLAY - from Patty Knott

First day introductory stuff can't think of anything more boring. The kids get this every class, all day long and I'm thinking... I'm not going to do it.


I think, instead I will surprise them with an activity, not sure what yet. Since I teach Advanced and AP I've been considering giving them some elementary lessons and see what they do with them. In fact, I've thought of doing this for a whole year --- see how sophisticated they can make very elementary lessons. I even ran this by a few kids and they said "yeah" and started telling me the elementary projects they liked most.


So my first day is going to be play. And I'm going to share with them my sketchbook. Since I require a sketchbook, they ought to know I keep one too. The rules will come ---- they know the rules.


Think about being a teenager, first day back at school and all day hearing the rules... now lets talk about how we turn kids off. Maybe if they know I am willing to turn things backwards and upside down, they will feel comfortable doing the same.


My first rule is Do Something different or a different way everyday I have a really hard time saying this is what you will learn because art is all about learning that it is any way but this is and I have no Standards anywhere in my room.


A Part of the Picture - from Michal Austin

I took a poster and redrew it so it was just a black line drawing (it was something fairly simple).  Draw a grid on the back, # each square 1-2.3. etc in numerical order, and cut apart. I gave each student a square when they walked in, plus markers, colored pencils, etc. They were to "finish" their square. Since nobody knew what the picture was they all just doodled and colored. I went over the syllabus, rules, etc. - I have had the majority of these kids for the past 9 years, so while I feel the need to refresh their memories I don't feel I need them looking at me. They turned in their square at the end of class. The next day they were able to see the artwork reconstructed. It makes them feel a part of the class, eases some of the tension, and is a lot more fun than the same thing they get in every other class.


Drawing form the start from Marvin Bartel

In response to: "I am now thinking of definitely having them keep a sketchbook and coming up with some drawing/journaling rituals."


Good ideas. On the first day the good students are excited to find out what they can learn. It is good to give them at least one productive way to become a better artist on the first day.  Even though it is tempting to use the whole first session on rules and procedures, have them do some kind of practice with materials for at least a small part of the first session.


Consider a small homework assignment due the second day. Make it something that is useful for the second day even if it is only a written list of visual observations in their environments.


Homework Example: Look for a place in the school building or in your house that has very  interesting lines when you see it from a certain place.  Sketch it or describe it by answering this this question using 3 to 5 sentences: What kinds of lines and how are they arranged in order to make an evocative arrangement of lines that you can see in the school or in your home? Any visual element could be used.


Establishing creative work habits is much easier if it is done on the first day before apathy or bad habits have a chance. Assume and expect the best.  Show pleasure and a word of praise when you get it.  Show surprise and keep hoping if you get less.  The second and third sessions can be used to review and finish with rules and procedures.



101Things for the Beginning of the First Three Weeks [Archive] - Many of these tips can be adapted to the art room.


Icebreakers [Archive] - Here is one fun idea from Indiana University - Center for Adolescent Studies. Student toss a ball of yarn (holding onto the end) and say their name and an interesting fact about themselves... by the time you have made it around the room, you have created an interesting web of yarn. This web could then be displayed - "Art Connects All" - and include pictures of the students... or images of how art connects the various subjects... or maybe add images from other cultures (for cultures that are represented by your students) for "Cultural Threads"... Use your imagination.


Kims' Korner for Teachers [Archive]- Kim has many first day/first week ideas on her site adaptable to the art room. Explore her site map for more sections on classroom management, bulletin board ideas and more. Kim's Korner for Teachers home page. [Archive]



The Edible Color Wheel - from Cathy K


Prep1: 3 bowls of primary color frosting, vanilla flavor. 12 Nilla wafers on a paper plate (one plate per table setup) with 4 or 5 plastic knives or popsicle sticks (per table).  Paper towels. Create a handout with the color wheel and  formula for color mixing (one per table)


Prep2: Have your seating set up so that there are 4 to 5 chairs at each table. Put one plate of Nilla Wafers, knives or Popsicle sticks., paper towels on each table. Put a sizable amount of primary color frosting in the middle of the paper plate. Separate enough so the colors don't touch. Place a paper towel over the paper plate setup with a little card that says "No Looking" or "Don't Touch".


Presentation: Once the parents enter the room and are seating go into your speech about the course.  Once you are done with your opening speech tell the parents you have prepared a little color theory test for them to see how well they remember their colors. Ask them what are the primary colors? After the response, ask what are secondary colors?  Then tertiary. Most of my parents didn't even know what tertiary colors were so I quickly showed them color wheels that their kids had made.  Then I told them to look under the napkin and turn over the handout.  Working in tables they were to create as many colors as they could with the primary color frosting and make a color wheel for their table. Not all the parents finished their table's color wheels but they did have fun mixing the colors and eating their results.


Clean up: As parents are exiting have them throw away the paper plate, knives, Nilla wafers and paper towels in the trash can set up by the exit door.  Wipe down the tables and set up for the next round.


The next day I had a lot of my students telling how much their parents enjoyed visiting art.


Parents do Printmaking Lesson - from Catherine


I tried this once and set up a printing station with the kids plates ready to go. The parents were able to use a brayer and ink the plate and print the card with their kids design. Worked well and we continued printing with the plates the following class.


Parents do activity relating to your curriculum

Think about your curriculum. What will you be having the students do? Then design a related activity for the parents. What will you be doing with the students right before and right after Open House?


You might consider having the parents make a "fine art" pin (select images for artists you will be covering that year)- and then later in the year have students make them as a fundraiser. Images from Art Image Publications catalog can be used for this purpose.


You could have several activities set up and have parents choose what to do. Parents could make a hand made sheet of paper that the students would later use for printmaking (or some other project). Parents could make some collage papers that the students would later use for Eric Carle inspired unit.


Put up an Art Wall for parent interaction

What about have an Art Wall for parents to interact with as they enter your art room? Put up some Paper Rolls. with some of the BIG QUESTIONS we ask students to think about. Have a desk out there with a can of pencils for parents to write their answers. What is art? What is not art? Does good art have to be beautiful? (this is an idea I got from Getty TeacherArtExchange archives - posted for students to do... so why not have it up for parents, too?).


Put up ten fine art prints in the hallway. Cover the names of the artists, titles and signatures. Put up some clues and have parents guess "Who is this Artist?". Leave the prints up for students to guess, too. The student whose parent guesses the most correct could win a small prize (like a gel pen or something like that - something artsy). This idea is on Incredible Art Department (shared by Sky McClain)


Parents do Name Design

You could have parents do some kind of design with their names (especially if you have students do name designs). I found an idea for a student name quilt (as a display for open house) in Getty archives. Students make 12" (30.5 cm) square name designs.


Suggestions - from Jeff Pridie

Set up prints of famous art work at stations throughout the room that you will be studying that year with your students.  Ask parents to write a comment about the works on the sheet of paper beside the print, parents need not sign names. Use these evaluations with students later when you discuss the prints and share the parents responses with them.


Have colorful sheet of paper on the desk and have parents write down their favorite classroom art experience.  If they did not have art then what would have been their favorite art experience.


Set out pieces of colorful paper that have these words printed on them, "What is Art?" Have parents define art in their own words.  Make this part of a display that students will add their responses to of the same question.


I give parents a set of directions and a piece of precut tag board for them to design a name tag for their elementary art student I will be having.  They take the nametag home and complete it and send it with their child on the first day of school.  I have creative name tags all ready made for those students whose parents do not attend so no one is without a name tag. Since i started this I have less and less parents not attending.  Many have called to come in and pick up an instruction sheet and tag board in order for it to be completed by the first day of class.


"I am not very artistic" parent project. When parents come in the room each is given a piece of paper and a pencil.  I explain that many are coming in with the idea that they are not very creative or artistically gifted and so their children come in with the same idea. I walk them through a very simple drawing task of using shapes to create an animal, a structure or making block letters. I explain it is all in perception, hard work and understanding that the skill is developed and mastered, to each persons individual ability level.  I ask parents to share the exercise with their child.  I have received fun and insightful reflections on this project by parents and students.


Parents participate in School Mosaic - from Ann

How about having a mosaic set up of the school emblem? Get a large sheet of plywood and sketch the emblem on it. Have tiles in the correct colors and bottles of white glue available. You could have tile nippers out, or have the tile pre-cut. Let them help to fill in the spaces. It might be a good idea to have some of it already done so that parents could see what is needed. Students could help you finish it when they have completed their projects in class. When it is finished and grouted, you could hang it in the front hall, and many students and parents would be able to say that they had a part in making it.


Display Art Prints in Cafeteria - Art Museum

This was suggested by Pam Stephens. The cafeteria becomes an art museum where art prints are set up. Students audition to become docents for the "art museum" and learn about each and every masterwork.  [For an Art Open House] The art teacher trained each grade-level team in one or two meaningful art-based activities. These activities were everything from games to puzzles to writing poems. The activities were set up in the classrooms


Added by Judy: You could also have your Shorewood and Art Image Publications catalogs set up with images marked that you would like to have added to your collection. Parents could sign up to purchase prints for your program. Provide a sign up sheet with print number and title. You could have a reliable student collect the checks for the prints (checks made out to the school so one Purchase Order can be sent). Labels would be put on the back of the prints when they arrive - Donated by:  Thank you note would be sent and those new prints used in the cafeteria art museum the following year - sending special invitations to the donors. You could also have some art work displayed that used the new prints for inspiration.... and again, put out your art prints catalogs.


Suggestions from Patty Knott (high school)

Why Man Creates class will be creating  and Evening of the Arts where parent/adult/ significant people participation is encouraged.  The students will be setting up displays that investigate all areas of creating.


It is so crucial that we find ways to engage parents in the art community we try to build. Most often, it is our youngsters that become the best teachers to the parents. More and more I am getting connected to businesses in the community that want to see the arts survive. "Outreaching" is the best way for getting the advocacy . If you just get a few parents to have  an enlightening experience you will get their support. If a child is involved in a "real-life " activity to present - the connections just fall into place.


I am trying to come up with some ideas  for Parent's night in September. I always try to do something that alleviates the boredom of listening to all the course requirements. I teach 4 different things so I have to think quick.


In Photo I have some pre-exposed prints  and let them go through the magic of the chemical process. In AP Art we look at portfolio requirements  (PP presentation, most parents in AP have big questions about the portfolio process and time spent on the requirements is worth it.) Why Man Creates:  I ask them to rank  their responses to  "what is art?" just like I ask the students to -- a typical token response activity


Digital Design: This is a new class for me this year. I think I will put a an image on every computer and ask that they do a simple manipulation. I'm sure this will result in lots of confusion and maybe an understanding of what their kids do so easily.


Below is a list you can send home with your students that will help you spend less money on supplies:

Art Room Wish List

The following is a list of supplies that most art teachers request from parents

Electric mixers
Magazines, magazines, magazines
Empty toilet paper rolls – cardboard rolls of any kind
Yarn, yarn, yarn - any kind or color - for weaving
Clean nylon stockings (for the famous wire/stocking sculptures)
Wallpaper books
Plastic dishes with lids (butter/margarine – Cool Whip)
Pringles cans – Lays Stax – Whiska snacks containers (any plastic container with lid)
Coffee cans with lids
Zip-lock storage bags
unscented baby wipes (scented acceptable, too)
Aluminum Foil, wax paper, paper towels, facial tissues
Aluminum Foil - wax paper- paper towel rolls.
Wood scraps – interesting shapes – small wood scraps (any wood crafters in your district?)
Plexiglas (any sizes)
Cardboard tubes, corrugated cardboard
Crochet thread (warp strings for weaving)
Blue or white wire coat hangers (any wire coat hangers)
Pliers - any kind – hand tools (hammers, screw drivers)
Old calendars with neat pictures
Fascinating still life stuff - hats, shoes, teddy bears, tools
Old bones and animal skulls
Old blankets (great for paper making felts)
Old coffee table art books
Sea shells
Old animal books or animal magazines
Old jewelry
Old kitchen utensils
Xerox copy machine (well... if you don't ask...?)
Old file cabinets
Canvas boards
Books from hair stylists (full frontal faces and facial features)
Odd saucers, cups, bottles, glasses for still life drawings
Old silk flowers
Old vases
Old boots
Store manikins
Old solid colored bed sheets
"How to" art books for our classroom library

Storage Shed for all of these goodies (we wish big!)

Anything you have 36-38 of... we can probably find a use for.


**If there is a remote possibility we can do something with it, then send it... we are VERY creative. If we can't use it, we'll either find someone who can or we will toss it lovingly.