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Designing Your Art Room

Designing Your Art Room: Organization Ideas
Room Design - Organization Tips - Peer Teaching - Distributing Supplies - Clean up Tips - Handing Back Artwork - Classroom Management


From Melissa Speelman:

The cupboards are my pride and joy! Our school built an addition about 2 years ago. Our principal, a huge supporter of our program, gave us and INCREDIBLE space for our art rooms. He also let us work with the architects to design the space. In our old rooms, which were pretty pathetic, we painted on everything. Well, we knew that would change with brand new rooms so we came up with the idea to have design cupboards with removable Masonite panels. The Masonite easily slips out the top of the door. I gave my 8th graders a list of artists that I wanted represented on the cupboards (the idea is that they would be used as teaching tools).


The students chose a painting to replicate and cropped it to fit panel. I can flip the Masonite and have a different group of students paint the other side or even Gesso. over the existing paintings. I've totally fallen in love with the original doors I can't bring myself to change them. But, I'm sure eventually I will.


cupboard picture of art room      cupboard picture of art room


Room Decorations from Marvin Bartel



Some fire inspectors are picky about placing paper near the ceiling.  Construction contractors generally have some left over ceiling tile.  I am guessing they would be happy to donate these.  The reverse side of all tile is flat, smooth, and unpainted.  It can be painted with flat white interior paint as a base for liquid tempera used directly on the tile.  This should be as fire resistant as the original ceiling.  Artist acrylics and oils are probably not as fire retardant as tempera. The original tile can be stored directly above the art tile.

See how to create a "green" art room here. See also this PDF file. PDF



The Sistine Chapel is great because it educates, it is beautiful, it leaves an imprint on the mind, it is imaginative (not copy work), and it was innovative.  It inspires and instructs.  A decorated ceiling is a wonderful way to give identity and character to an art room.  What would an educational ceiling look like in an art room if it is invented and designed by art students for art students?  What does it tell about values? Is it based copy work of art or is it art? What does this teach about art?


How is imagination motivated?  In addition to imagination, creating art and thinking/behaving artistically requires knowledge, skills, keen awareness, and so on. Would an educational ceiling inform and inspire any of the requisites needed to be artistic?  A classroom setting, creatively designed and decorated, like The Sistine Chapel, inspires and instructs.  I would not use a  public school room to instruct in politics, nationalism, or religion, but as the art edifice, it should instruct and inspire art.  



An advantage of a dropped tile ceiling is the ability to upgrade. My Adobe Photoshop - release 8 is far superior to Photoshop 4 (Photoshop is available from the Adobe Software Page).  An artist often reworks a painting several times before it works. What if the most advanced students who use the art room are challenged to upgrade the ceiling every year?   


Marvin Bartel Copyright © 2004 - Post from Getty TeacherArtExchange October 23, 2004.


More on Art Classroom Design from Marvin Bartel 

Things to consider when designing an art room

Planning Your Art Rooms... DREAM BIG

From a Getty list member: If I were designing it (art space for 2D work and another room for 3D work) - I would have at least three sinks in EACH room (all with clay traps - even on 2-D design side) - with one being a deep laundry tub design.

Between the two rooms...
I would have a kiln room (with two kilns and vents) with shelf storage and cupboards. An office room with shelving for books and desk with phone - plus how ever many file cabinets you need. Big Window in office walls joining the classrooms. I would have another room for paper and paint storage and such - lots of shelving and storage.

In the classrooms....
Storage space for each kid - cupboards with individual tote trays... a unit with individual shelves for larger drawings (pull out Masonite shelf for each kid)... a Cupboard for storing visual resources (deep enough for 22 x 28 (56 x 71 cm) prints.) Counter top and cupboards along one wall with full length bulletin boards above...

Plenty of shelving in ceramics and sculpture room (shelf height adjustable)...

Vented spray booth in both rooms...
I could go on... but without knowing your curriculum it is difficult. Just plan your DREAM classrooms then scale it down from there.

What I would do is visit as many art classrooms as you can in your area. Write down what you like about their classrooms - and make notes what you would do differently. Do you want individual work tables - or long rectangular tables? I personally like the longer tables (6 foot long (183 cm) tables - or at least 5 ft. (152 cm) long) - six for each classroom... and what about potters' wheels? Do you want a computer center? I would want at least one computer (with Internet) in each room for student research. You could keep it covered in the sculpture/3-D art room when not in use. Your own computer could be in the office (or out in the drawing room as an additional computer for students to use)


ID Cards for distributing supplies - from Laurie Reber

I start off the first day with introductions, expectations, etc. Then, I have the students make I.D. cards for checking out art supplies from me (supplies that I really need to keep a close watch on - X-acto Knives., copper tooling tools, etc). The students design a 4 x 6 (10 x 15 cm) index card by drawing, coloring on one side. Then they can use Glitter Glue., Sharpie Fine Point Markers., etc., to write info like one would find on a driver's license - name, address, height, eye color, hair color. Then I have the tables numbered, so they write the table number they are sitting at on their card, then something interesting about themselves, then their favorite band/singer/music, their favorite candy/food.

On the reverse side, I get pertinent info like parent/step-parent/guardian info, siblings, phone numbers where parents (or other guardian) can be reached (cell, work, etc.). Then their homework is to bring in a small picture of themselves to be placed on their ID cards the next class period. This is a great way for me to remember who my 240 students per semester are since I have a name to connect to the face, and it really helps me to manage my supplies.

When a table needs to check out supplies for a particular lesson, one student per table is responsible for checking those supplies out. They need to find their ID card (which are now placed in a file box by class period), remove it from the file box, and then place it in a tray on my desk. When clean-up time comes, I know who from each table checked out what supplies and can call them up to return supplies (they are responsible for checking to see that all they checked out is returned) so if anything is missing, I know right away where the problem is.

I have also decided to do the Starry Night matrix (Not sure what this is- Ken) for back to school night.

Note: You might want to make a template card with all of the pertinent information you need and get them printed on colored card stock. Student will do their art on the back side and fill out the information on the printed side.


Establish a seating chart - from Jayna Huffines

On the first day of class I very kindly explain to them that alphabetical seating works best for my class and makes it easier for me to learn their names. I also tell them that I sometimes switch seats around to mix things up a bit, so things aren't too predictable. Maybe they know I do it for discipline reasons, but I try not to be too obvious so they won't resent me. I just don't feel like it works very often to let them sit wherever they want.


Providing Choices - from Denise Pannell

For my older students (grades 3-5), I give them a choice of two projects which cover the same basic principles, elements, artists, etc. I have sign up sheets and only let half sign up for each. It seems to be working - they love having a choice and I end up with double the choices for the art show. More work for me, but worth it because I don't have many kids resisting the project. After all, it was THEIR choice.


Classroom Management Tips for Elementary - from Andrea Dunmire

I have discovered lots of little tricks in my years of teaching elementary visual art. With 24 back-to-back classes and 600+ kids, these come in handy.


Here are some of them:

I choose 1 table a week to be the helper table. It is the same table in every class. They are responsible for passing out, collecting supplies and work, clean-up of common areas, and whatever else I need help with.

For tempera painting, I have 7 old cafeteria trays (one for each table) which I cover with a piece of newspaper, and set up paint (the primaries and black & white in small plastic containers with lids like the restaurants use of condiments), a large plastic container of water in the middle, 4 "stand-up" paper mixing cups, and 4 Popsicle sticks.. After tables are covered with newspaper, which the students do, I bring them a tray. They mix a color and go to the shelf where I have brushes set out in covered and labeled coffee cans, to choose the size brush they need. When done with a color, they toss out the paper mixing cup and get another one. When the class is over, I instruct them to drop their brushes into the water container on the tray, snap the lids back on the paint cups, throw away their trash, and put their paintings on the Drying Rack.. I collect the paint trays and take them to a sink where I dump out the water containers, wash and refill the water container, wash the brushes and have a helper resort them into the proper can. Then the paint trays are ready for the next class. This goes very fast after awhile and the closed plastic containers keep the paint from drying out. When they do get cruddy, I toss out the newspaper from the tray and pour the remaining contents of the plastic paint containers into new ones and the entire setup is fresh again.

I do the same with Prang Watercolor Pan Sets. with 7 other trays. I keep both of these sets of trays set up and ready to go for as long as I need them.

I do the same for other media that is in use.

Those finished early have several choices. I have a stock of art games that I have either made or collected. Students may play a game with a friend. I also have cards labeled "art starts" which I keep in a box. Each card gives an idea for a drawing. Students go to the box and pick 2 without looking. After taking these to their seat, they read both of them and choose the one they would like to do. They are all different and they seem to like them. There are also art books they can look at- both about artists and drawing techniques. I also keep a large box of scrap papers that can be used for paper sculpture or whatever.


On Organizing Sample Projects for Elementary - from Linda Woods

As per how I handle all of my notes, examples, etc., when switching grade levels back to back...

I had a long counter and cabinets that stretched the width of my room in the back. I asked the school to build me another shelf that is 18 inches deep, and place it 9 inches (23 cm) over the previous counter-top. Now, on what used to be the old counter-top (under the shelf) I have cardboard boxes that 18x24 inch (46 x 61 cm) ream paper came in to keep lesson ideas for each grade. I just cut away the front of each box so that I can just bend over and see the labels of each project from the front of the boxes where the projects are stacked up on each other. Each grade has two boxes full of samples and plans in storage under the new counter/shelf.


I bought a small drying rack (18x24 (46 x 61 cm), only about 20 shelves if even that many) and put it at one end of this counter. That drying rack is for my in process demo materials to be stored in during any given lesson. I keep each lesson inside of a folded in half piece of 18x24 (46 x 61 cm) labeled piece of paper. Yes, the work sticks out way beyond the edges of the folded label paper, but it holds it together enough to make it easy for me to just gather up the materials with one of the largest pieces on the bottom, slide the label around the edge of it, and plop it into the rack. While there, I just grab the next classes lesson. I also sometimes stick odd things of student work in there that don't somehow make it back to the class cabinet at the end of the class with the other student work. (maybe the only kid in the class to watercolor something that day, for example.) That way, I don't leave it in the big drying rack and forget to put it back with the rest of the class's work at the end of the day... thereby preventing the work from being forgotten in the big rack and mixed up with another class later.) This new counter-top sticks out about 6 more inches than the last one, so it is also a good place for kids to work at a computer on my high stool.

Now that I have an LCD projector, PowerPoint is my life. I have photographed all of the visual examples in those files under the counter-top They are now all on CD, so I can access examples either way. I have also photographed many of our posters to CD so that I don't have to keep dragging them to the table. I do put them up on the wall, but It's great to not have to wrestle with them as a class comes in/leaves. And now kids can ALL see what we are talking about easily as it is in your face HUGE on the projector screen. My next goal is to figure out how I want to demonstrate drawing on a screen for them easily. I've seen a science teacher using one of those little cameras on an adjustable coil holder mounted to a desk... it projects on the TV clear as a bell. I had no trouble reading small print out of a text book when he placed that under the camera. I was thinking what a great way to demo drawing techniques.


Paint Palettes for Middle School/High School from Michal Austin

I purchase paint palettes with lids., which I number with Sharpie Fine Point Markers.. I check these out to the kids with the understanding that they are responsible for them. I also give them 2 paint brushes. If they do not return the brushes and palettes (with the correct number) then it is a $5 USD charge. I was so tired of the laziness and ruined brushes cause we all know how much easier it is to just toss the stuff in the sink! Students cannot check out or receive their grade reports until all books are returned and fees paid. I also have a block of wood with holes drilled in it for X-acto Knives.. I use red electrical tape to wrap around the bottom part and I write numbers on these as well. Students sign out knives when they need one and I must see them return it before they can cross off their name. No one leaves until all knives are returned (with blades).


Individual Storage Space for Each Student from Michal Austin

I have an area for the students to store their flat work items (artworks in progress, Sketchbooks., Drawing Pencils.) as well as a shelf for 3-D items. My problem is that my immature freshmen like to break their pencils, and then when they need one they steal from another classmate's folder. So, I make them responsible for bringing stuff to class and make it part of their daily points. My dream would be to have locking cabinets with 2 students per cabinet so I could narrow down the culprits (actually, this is my reality dream - my fantasy dream is to have class sizes under 20!)


The Arrangement of Space and Materials for Choice Classroom from Kathy Douglas

[In response to the post on "subliminal learning"] Below is a selection from the Best Practice in Education web site: this is a research summary on effective art classroom arrangement. For further information, as well as the bibliography which accompanies the summary visit and click on classroom context.

The arrangement of space is of great importance in the choice-based classroom (Cyert; Szekely, 1988; Ediger, 2001; Baker, 1999, Johnson et al, 1990). As New (1993) states, "The environment informs and engages the viewer." Saphier & Gower (1997) discuss observations made in effective classrooms, where every inch of space is used productively and the design encourages positive student activity, organized traffic patterns, and a comfortable noise level. An orderly environment helps students to achieve more optimally. The teacher needs to evaluate the learning environment continually and make any changes necessary to motivate student learning (Ediger, 1999).

New (1993) writes, "Other supportive elements of the environment include ample space for supplies, frequently arranged to draw attention to their aesthetic features... clearly designated spaces for large- and small-group activities... designed to encourage playful encounters. It is no wonder that Reggio Emilia teachers refer to the environment as OUR THIRD TEACHER."

The organization of materials is a key component of the choice-based classroom (Szekely, 1988; Douglas, 1993; Perrone, 1989; Ediger, 1999). Perrone (1989) explains, "Children know what learning materials - paint, brushes, wood ...--are available and where they are stored as well as understand that they have virtually complete access to them. If children must ask permission to use the items, which usually involves waiting, or do not know what is available, they may well lose interest or have limited opportunities for exploring new areas. It should be noted, too, that the children do things for themselves - mix paints, clean brushes... These simple chores are part of the process of earning self-reliance and responsibility."

Materials that the students use should be visibly stored and accessible to facilitate efficient getting and putting away (Saphier & Gower, 1997). "Concrete materials stimulate and motivate pupil learning" (Ediger, 1999). "Students who are given the responsibility to select their own materials and tools are more resourceful as they develop competence and skill through exploration of the materials" (Linderman, 1974). All materials should be usable independently after minimal introduction (Lowenfeld, 1987; Smith, 1995; Douglas, 1993).

The classroom is organized around various learning centers (Douglas, 1993; Baker, 2000; Ediger, 1999). Learning center experiences also help children develop a sense of responsibility, as well as problem-solving and decision-making skills. The multiple techniques and methods used in centers accommodate different learning styles. At centers, children have a chance to collaborate with others and to work with a variety of materials and activities. Children plan, select, and assess their learning (Baker, 2000). "Semi-concrete materials (illustrations, slides, videotapes, filmstrips, CD's, Computer software and personal computers) as well as films should also be located at each station" (Ediger, 1999). Centers contain menus, adult exemplars, and student exemplars (Saphier & Gower, 1997; Douglas, 1993; Ediger, 1999).

Ideas for Organizing the Classroom - from Amy
Ziploc bags.... they are my saviors. I have to move from room to room a lot, and other teachers borrow my supplies, too. I put all the glue sticks in one bag, all the mask molds in another, etc. then when I need to move, I grab the bag, all closed up so nothing spills out, easy to carry. When I get a new box of Crayons, they all go in a Ziploc bag. who needs a broken box? and its cheaper than plastic boxes. - Submitted by Amy in kc

Ideas for Organizing the Classroom - from Theresa in El Paso

  • Here are a few ideas: (these are not original to me, but gleaned from others...)

  • Use empty tennis ball containers to hold colored pencils.

  • Save large coffee cans for containers. The students may label and decorate these.

  • Assign sink monitors.

  • Assign students to collect and organize materials at the end of each class.

  • Say the magic word: "Extra Credit"

  • Each student assigned a portfolio to keep their work in. This can be one piece of poster board folded in half and with the sides laced up. They decorate them with their name and class period plainly on one side. Each class can be a different color. This helps keep their portfolios from getting lost in the wrong class.

Organizing Samples and Project Materials - from Michal Austin

For my intermediate classes (I have 3 rooms), I assign each grade a color. They all have sketchbooks with their class colors for the cover. I have shelves beside my desk, and for each class I have a pop flat. The front of the pop flat has the same colored paper and the grade written across the front. I keep everything needed for the current lesson in the pop flat. If I have cut paper to size, that paper is stored in there. Visuals (if small enough) go underneath. Handouts, books, etc all go inside. If I unexpectedly have a sub and it is something a sub can do all supplies are there. I also have a sub folder on my desk with worksheets, color sheets, etc. for emergency use.


Lesson Organization for High School - From Kathy in Kalamazoo

As a one room/ art instructor for our High School, I have organized the program in the following manner:

With Art 1 students, I typically start with an overall view of the elements/principles showing examples of both Master and student artwork. This interactive lecture/discussion takes place AFTER my introductory 3-day "creativity" project that varies each year (and these beginning days I distribute materials & issue bins, review rules etc. ). We also begin to MAKE our sketchbook during this first week. It is a time when kids are still adding and dropping classes so they don't really miss too much instruction if they enter class late because the info is repeated (spiral curriculum)


The second week begins with exercises on line: sketch, contour, & gesture with a total focus on observational drawing and composition- big time! I emphasize drawing large and overlapping objects and creating movement. During this time I have the students identify shapes within objects as they draw- Geometric and Organic, negative and positive. This can take up to two weeks (sometimes a bit longer depending on students) The next week and a half or so concentrates on Value to represent Form - they first make a value scale that they use then to reference for all their drawings. Once again - observational drawing/rendering. We then move on to texture where they create a non-objective design with examples of recognizable textures within the shapes (required-15 different textures.) This typically takes about 4 days and then I move on to Color which is at least a week or two to complete the lesson. Students make a color wheel for their reference then are given a project with a color "objective" to complete- usually painted. At this point - we then do a small 3D project to enforce their understanding of form- both actual and implied form. Our final week or two concentrates on space. We review overlapping as the first trick to show space then look in depth to natural perspective (diminishing size, diminishing detail, atmospheric perspective) 1 pt. perspective and 2 pt. I don't always get to 2 pt. because some groups don't grasp the concept as well as others so I run out of time but- this is my format for my art 1 students.

Advanced art in a nutshell:

Art 2- use of grids in art (enlargements/tessellations/commercial design)
Art 3- similar to above- concentration on mastery of media/ Principles concepts, using different media with larger format
Art 4- focus on figure drawing- large format with different media
Art 5- Concentration on 3 D work- different media
Art 6- Independent study- Students concentrate on portfolio work. Required to submit 6 projects over the course of the semester to complete over the course of the semester to add to their portfolio. Seniors are required to have a senior show as their final.


Organizing Supplies - Elementary - from Susan M.

I swear by three items for organization of supplies- Plastic stackable bins. with lids (the Rubbermaid or Sterilite brands) in all sizes and open basket-type stackable plastic containers with handles on both sides (easy for the kids to hold as they give out and collect supplies). Label all your bins with the content inside. The second containers. I mentioned are small, but big enough for pencils, pens, markers, bottles of glue,etc. Staples sells them for 99 cents each. The third item- a wooden scissors holder. When the monitor collects the scissors they are easily accounted for and neatly put away. I have two, one for my K-2 scissors, Fiskers blunt tip., and one for my grades 3-5 scissors, the Fiskers orange handles..


What kind of shelving do you have? If possible, label some shelves for student work by class. I have a folder for each class for work in progress and portfolios for each student for finished work. The first year I did portfolios they were all white- what a mistake! Don't ask how many got "lost" or misplaced with the wrong class. Experience taught me to color code them with each class' portfolios its own color. The kids make the portfolios by stapling the sides and adding pipe cleaner handles.


I also had the maintenance department build me a demo table that I designed for the middle of the room. All four sides have recessed shelves that hold supplies that we frequently use with the bins that I described. Every morning (or the night before) I put out the folders for that day and the kids easily give out the work when their class comes in. If you can't custom order a table, how about using any kind of table for demo and the day's work and put storage bins underneath?


With only 40 minutes for each class and 5 min. in between, it has helped to develop a system of organization that has worked for me


Organizing Special Tools from Christa W.

I find that I can eliminate my clean-up woes, on even the most complex project, with "silhouettes." I tape a clean sheet of paper to a table and draw silhouettes in marker of every piece of equipment, every tool, and every supply and I write the names of each as well (It really doesn't take long). If it is wire sculpture, I silhouette with a big marker every pair of pliers, every spool of wire, and each roll of masking tape. This does two things. It impresses my students with my emphasis on returning things, and it makes it easy for them to remember where things go. At the end of the hour, I can check at a glance if all tools are present, and will sometimes say, "There are two pairs of pliers missing, you're not dismissed until everything is in its place." They quickly scramble to return the stuff or the offenders hold up the pliers showing me they are returning them forthwith.


I also had the Industrial Arts guys make up some wooden blocks drilled with 24 holes for pencils, brushes, pens, markers or whatever I set out so that these items can be accounted for quickly. I think my students know I do keep track of supplies, and knowing this, they are more respectful of the stuff.


Organizing Materials from LeAnn

I have found that the large plastic tubs help me out. Example:  I have 1 rubber tub full of yarn, one for coffee cans, etc. Everything is in tubs under the counters of my room. I do keep scrap paper (pieces of Construction Paper, colored papers, tissue paper scraps, etc. In a  large bin. Then if we do a project where we need it. I bring out the bin.  I also have cabinets and I have numbered them and have put some clip art pics on the front of what they contain. I got tired of kids asking me where the scissors were. (after telling them 50 times) So now I say Cabinet #3. and if they happen to look over towards the cabinets before asking they see a pic of the scissors.

I think the best thing I did was to group like items, and arrange how I wanted so I knew where everything was.


Organizing Materials - from Michal Austin

I started an organizational system last spring that I am hoping will work. Gallon size ziplock baggies for Feather Assortment., Beads, ribbons, etc. all those embellishments that students love. Punch a hole in the top and use one of those snap type keyrings to hold them together. One of my cabinets is dedicated to "throw-aways" - egg cartons, tissue rolls, Styrofoam Trays., etc. If it doesn't fit in there then I don't save it. This limits the amount of stuff of this nature that I save. I don't throw away much - large cardboard boxes get cut down into large pieces of flat cardboard. Another rule of thumb is to figure out how many you would need for one class (I'm still talking throw-aways) and save that plus a few extra.


I try to organize my supplies so they are together. One cupboard is all printmaking supplies, one cabinet contains paint and palettes, another contains fibers. If there are cross-overs I try to keep those cabinets close together. At the high school I am in an old Home Ec. room so I have a lot of cabinets. I store 90% of all supplies for my K-12 classes here.


Organizing Lesson Plans from Michele

I have several three ring binders. They are labeled according to the type of media lesson they are. I have one each for drawing, painting. sculpture, printmaking, and now have added technology and am starting one for graphic design. If necessary you can break the binders into sections. I have mine broken into grade levels, and on the top of each lesson I will write notes to myself that tell me what element it is good for.


Organizing Lesson Materials from Jancy Cossins

I bought big portable hanging file boxes. I put any information I have regarding a lesson/topic in a paper folder- one with the tabs in the center and pockets on the sides- and have them in the hanging file box. In the folder, I cut down the resource information that is of greatest importance and put it in the center tabs. Lessons, PowerPoint notes, CD's, etc. go in the pockets. One for each grade level that I teach, and one for house-keeping (class expectations, extra copies of things during the year,information on the grading website, etc.) It is one of the best things I've done because if I'm on the run (and you know we NEVER are!) and need things to plan the next week or unit I can just go to the boxes and grab what folders I need to take with me. I was hauling around so much stuff before it was terrible. I get one or two student teachers every year and they tend to like the system and buy ! one of those mini portable hanging file boxes and carry it back and forth.


Organizing Lesson materials in X-ray Folders - from Denis Pannell

Another teacher gave me a big box of x-ray folders. They are the perfect size for the standard print sets and I have the fifth graders use them for portfolios. We put their name where it says "patient" and the list the projects under "procedures". They think it's cool. Also, one side is blank, so they may decorate them. I use them as class folders as well.


Keep projects simple at first - establish cleanup routine - "luck of the toss"

My largest class in elementary school was 48 first graders. I will admit that I had a large room so space was not a problem and it was more conducive to classroom management. I started simple... in seat projects to begin with... established the conduct and clean-up procedures... took about two weeks of being on top of the process... but they quickly learned and by the end of 2 to 4 weeks knew what to do. The kids were assigned tables, each table had a tray of supplies (markers, pencils, crayons, rulers, glue, etc.), one student per table was responsible for handing out and collecting papers for one week (I saw the kids every third day for 50 minutes), no one was allowed out of their seat or away from their table area during clean-up, and every table was responsible for table clean-up and tray organization (individual duties were assigned if necessary especially during the larger projects). Hands were not washed until clean-up was done... then one or two at a time. Had this down to five minutes by the end of the 4th week. Then I would roll a multi-color dice... each table had an assigned color... if their color came up... I would inspect the table... all things in order... a treat... not in order... no treat. Didn't do this every day... real expensive otherwise... but at least once a week. We had fun with the "luck of the toss". Occasionally, I would have to help the non-tables get a chance by default. After the routine was established... I went to painting and other projects.

Just don't say, "Time to clean up" before you have this routine or you will have 48 kids up at once. Talk about chaos. It only takes once to learn this lesson of management.


Assigning Art Room Helpers

I had table helpers - but just had them numbered (and each table was numbered the same way). My Tables were colors. I could call on number 1's to do one job, number 2's a different job and so on. The method below will work for those of you who have your tables labeled with artists' names (or numbered). I don't know how this list member rotated the jobs though. My jobs changed each week. Most of my tables had four - only one table had five or six (as it was a longer table). Those of you with different seating arrangements will have to shift these assignments.

From an unknown Getty list member. You could have color stickers on the back of the chairs (this is for five chairs per table). If your chairs get set up each afternoon for cleaning, chances are they will get shuffled around a bit so students will get different jobs throughout the year. Students would look to see what color sticker is on their chair.


Red - Team Director signals when table is ready politely reminds team members of responsibilities, if necessary substitutes for absent members

Yellow - Supply Manager
gets out and puts away all supplies in ready condition for next class
(includes washing paint brushes, etc.)
substitutes for Team Director

Blue - Distribution Manager
passes out table folders or work in progress
distributes/collects papers for table
puts away all team members' work at end of class

Purple - Maintenance Manager
responsible for covering the table with newspapers or clay canvas as needed in charge of the sponge for cleaning makes sure team members pick up floor and push in chairs

Green - Teacher's Assistant may be called upon to help with demos, run errands, assist other team members.


Assigning Art Room Helpers - from Chris Massingill

First of all, I have given some of the ownership of the cleaning and organizing of the rooms to the students. Last semester my bookshelf was always a mess with books all helter-skelter in the shelves and sometimes just on the floor near the shelves and there was always too much stuff being left on the floors - pieces of paper and yarn and dropped markers, etc.

This semester I made a change and assigned classroom helpers with different jobs - a librarian to keep the shelves neat, clean up helpers who not only help clean up but have the authority to POLITELY remind other students to pick things up and a supply organizer who counts scissors, etc. so that supplies don't magically disappear. I tried table captains before but kids would need to be moved or separated from others for behavior problems and that would cause even more problems with who's the new captain? can we switch every 2 weeks? etc. My new method requires them to fill out a job application stating their qualifications and experience and then I just pick the best applicant. End of story. No whining, no switching, etc.

The job application option lets me do a few things - I wrote some funny want ads that I read aloud to them the first day and so I get to drive home my point about the importance of keeping the room clean and I get to essentially set the tone for the semester.

Another solution for organizing that i just came up with over the break has to do with yarn which is a major problem in my room, no matter how many times I talk to them about the yarn I always end up with a rats nest of unusable fibers. But over the break I got an ornament box - it's a medium sized box for storing 24 ornaments with dividers in it and I drilled holes in the sides so that we can put yarn balls in the ornament spaces and they can't get tangled in the boxes. There are a few landlocked compartments that are wasted, but for the most part it seems to be working (maybe try drilling holes in the top of the box for the inside storage spaces).


Posting Daily Agenda for Middle School from Beth H

I post a very complete overhead every day on current project, duties, special instructions, cleanup time. Students know to check the overhead as they enter the room. Helps a lot for early and late arrivals especially.

Those of you who do not have an Overhead projector could photocopy the paper and put a copy (or two) at each table.


Written instruction sheets from Alix Peshette 

In the name of teaching to all the learning modalities; I do both demos and step-by-step instructions.  Granted, I'm teaching computer graphics and the technical steps are pretty easy to document. 

I too find that the kids DON"T want to read the material; it's just so much easier for them to demand that I show each and everyone of them, one-at-a-time, how to do each step! (note heavy sarcasm here!)


However, I've put the instructions into steps and numbers and demanded that if they can't do something, they MUST tell me what step and number they are on. This has helped.  Also, as I demo something, I will say, "OK, we are now on step 7C."  Sometimes I will take a complex set of instructions and break them up into one day blocks and just do that much, making sure that everyone is up to that point before proceeding on the next day.

The best reason to do the step-by-step instructions for me is that I am compiling a book of our assignments.  There is a book of instructions sitting next to each computer in my room.  When a kid is stuck, I will say "Get out the computer book and read the instructions first, then I will help you!" 


I also will put the rubric for each assignment in the books and then make it a short lesson, by having everyone pull out the books and check their work so far for fulfilling the requirements for a good grade.  These books are just cheap heavy-weight vinyl 1" ring binders in ugly colors so that no one will steal them.  The lessons are in plastic sheet protectors.  This allows me to up-date assignments at will.  I put an up-date notation at the top of all my instructions so that I can keep the versions straight.


Also, for those kids who are absent and need the instructions, having them written up and posted on our computer science website is REALLY helpful.  I have also e-mailed the instructions home to kids and parents so that something can be started or completed at home.


Yes, writing the instructions is tedious for me; but then I am a visual learner and hands-on demos is how I learn.  But, for people who need written instructions, I'm willing to do the work to create them.


Added by Debbie Bridges: This past year I tried something new! (Or something old) It's called bribery (rewards)! I gave out the handout/instructions which was to be kept in their sketchbooks that we had previously made. Then during the project, I would give out prizes to students who had out their sketchbook. I make a big to do, asking someone for a number, then I would see whose name corresponded in the grade book. Then I would go over and see if he/she had out the instructions. WINNER!? Believe me! What kids will do for a little piece of candy! Or an extra bathroom pass! After the first prize, nearly every student would have out their instructions each day! I also always posted the project in the room and would point if anyone forgot what to do. I also kept problems at a minimum by asking questions and tossing candy over to the one who knew the answer. They loved it!! I even had the high school students answering questions with the candy-tossed rewards. They like to then eat their prize in front of everyone. We are allowed to give candy, some schools may frown on this. The Sketchbooks. were taken up at mid-nine-weeks and at the end of the nine weeks. I have also had students check off the steps and turn in their sheet at the end of the project for extra credit.


On Late Work for Middle School & High School from Ken Schwab

I have used this policy for the last 8 years or so. I give the assignment and we go through the procedures and when I have about 2-3 students finishing I will set a due date. The due date is the time all work in class will be stopped. They automatically have one week grace period to take it home and finish. After that week they must petition me to give more time, however no more time in class. They come in after school, before school, (we have a tutorial period) and work at home. If they do not talk to me I deduct 5 points a day for every day late. If they were absent for three days during the assignment I might add that on.

...This gives my hard working students time to finish and slow but good workers time to complete and have full credit. The slackers will not finish and they are graded accordingly...


Avoiding Late Work from Sara S.

This is what worked in the past to help ADD/ADHD students complete or start their art work. They usually know what works but still need help with starting work, staying on task and staying under control.

Since the class expectations are:

Everyone does his/her part
(has awareness, has good attitude, applies art knowledge, does his/her chore,
works safely, finishes work...)
Everyone works
Everyone learns
Everyone makes his/her best better

I talk with the Joe/Joy Doe about ,what helps you to do your best/work better in class? I help them I create a plan/contract.

I ask:
Besides your regular seat when you come in, what area do you want to work?
Do you want to have the choice to go during activity time to work at a quiet area, where? in the back?
Or I give them 1 to 3 choices. As some students work better away from the rest of the class.

What person/persons do you work best with?
Since they don't do well with constant change. Keep regular seating and their group constant.

Ask one or two students to help Joe/Joy Doe by giving clues/reminders as Time to.. Time to put our work on the shelf in our folders. Some have a hard time with whole class instruction.

Do you work better standing up?

Do you work better with music?

Do you work better with quiet times?

What should be done if see you not working/listening?
If I see that you not working or not under control, should I come and give and you a signal as touch you on the shoulder or...?

Do you work better if you have a objectives/check list of what is to be completed today?

Sometimes I do with the whole class.


"3 Before Me" Rule

This is used by many list members... I had a "3 before Me" rule to answer the easy questions.

1. Use handouts - instructions sheets - your notes - rubric
2. Look at art visuals - prints and examples
3. Ask someone at your table who knows what they are doing

I even told some to go read the lesson plan on my site - when they hadn't listened - and they did! It made putting the plans online fun for me - I never needed them myself )... but some kids just didn't get that rule... They would still want my attention (I got this three before me rule from a coworker).


We also had an agreement in my class. If someone had a "crisis" - something that needed immediate attention - they were supposed to get out of their seat and come to me. I often could not see a raised up hand... and if I did see one up that was waving away I sometimes asked if they needed one of the long rulers to help hold it up and asked if it was a "crisis" - or simply would say "3 before me" and go right back to what I was doing. The "crisis" questions always came first (those who were really frustrated -- working hard at their work - but stuck in some way or other). I would sit down with the crisis student and we would work through the problem.


Sharon Henneborn added to this: I had a list called PEER COACH hanging up that any student who had mastered a particular skill was asked by me to sign and list the skill so those who needed help knew who to ask for coaching. My classes were trained early in the year to use helpful coaching skills. Coach by showing an example, by asking questions, by stating facts, and by giving opinions (I messages).Saved me lots of time and adding their opinions to mine made for very rich lessons.


Classroom Management - Elementary - 5 Point System

I assigned points - and kept track of points myself in the grade book - so that I could give a special reward (usually a special project that only their class could do).

My elementary classes got points for the following:

1 pt. - coming in quietly and getting seated quickly for work - all eyes at me.
1 pt. - listening to instructions and asking appropriate questions - good discussion.
1 pt. - working quietly and on task
1 pt. - cleaning up on time (stopping when told to do so) - all helping
1 pt. - lining up to leave - good review of concepts - all hands to self.

I asked review question (closure) as they lined up - gave each table a question to answer. Tables that got cleaned up first and showed me they were ready to leave lined up first.

Each class got a slip from me with their points to to give to their teacher. All of the core teachers were on board. Classes the earned all five points got a sticker on their class palette (laminated tag board palettes).


Keep Art Room Rules Simple

Remember the 4 R's of Respect:

  1. Respect others - students and teachers

  2. Respect the materials

  3. Respect the environment/school facility

  4. Respect Yourself

Remember the Big 3 B's

  1. Be Responsible

  2. Be Respectful

  3. Be on time and ready

From Kay Broadwater: When I first started teaching art there were three school rules that everybody (K-6) followed:

  1. hands to yourself

  2. voices low

  3. walk

See additional information on classroom discipline.


"Teach one-reach one" from Debbie

I had a middle school project in which the wrinkled paper had to be ironed smooth at the final stage (batik). I set up the one iron in a designated area and demonstrated the process. I then called on one student to come up and repeat it with his project. I then instructed the class and him that he would now instruct/help the next student. He would sit down and #2 then became the teacher to the next person. There was never more than two at the iron and it worked great! I watched from the sideline as I helped others with the project. I called it "teach one-reach one". This originally came from some in-service class. I also use it with other projects but this was hazardous-hot iron and needed a careful, reinforced, controlled process. It works good when students are all on different stages of an artwork-resists, glazing, etc.


Students as "Experts" - from Kathy Douglas

[in response to try the buddy system for some lessons] Yes! we certainly do this a lot in TAB/Choice-based classroom. I like the concept of student experts. Because in a choice art class some students work in a particular direction repeatedly, I will refer other students to them. They become "experts". As I discovered through college teaching, once you have to teach something, you learn it better. The choice based teacher probably has a fair idea of which children have experience in each area and can refer newcomers in that type of work directly to an expert. Many of my experts are the least capable children in the academic paper and pencil realm, so the authentic boost this peer coaching provides is a godsend. Also, many students prefer to learn from a peer.


Students helping students - from Linda Woods

I use charts when I notice or decide that we have a LOT of skills to acquire for a given project. For example, when I'm teaching our stuffed animal sewing project to third grade, I have the following skills in a chart for kids to sign off on: threading a needle, using a needle threader, sewing a button, sewing an end knot, blanket stitch, cross stitch, French knots, sewing on sequins with French knots, chain stitch, back stitch, daisy chain stitch, beginning and ending each of the above stitches, stuffing. I level with the kids on day one, telling them that I am going to introduce a LOT of stitches to them, how to sew on a button, etc. BECAUSE I want them to have all of those choices available to them, and I don't want everyone's to look alike (as in follow the leader, now we will chain stitch, etc.) I have about 3-5 moms in the room to help, so it's not total bedlam. I also ask how many kids already have some of the skills we will be learning. Those kids help the others to see that it's all learnable, and help them to see that "If they can do it, so can I!" Anyway, as soon as they learn a stitch or skill, they put their name up. Then when someone needs help, if I or the other moms are busy, they can go to the list, or they can go to the list anyway. The only rule is that the teachers can only demonstrate one or two stitches, and then the student who is asking for help must show the teacher that they can do it, too. If possible, volunteers explain without actually stitching for them.


I also use the kids teaching skills when I teach drawing. I have a lot of drawing tricks that I teach kids. I have them write down the names of those tricks and tips across the very top of their paper, very lightly, as a reminder of ways to help them when they run into trouble. For example: what's above/below/beside" what you are currently drawing; "clock face" (imagine a clock or compass around what you are drawing... when you change directions and need help knowing how to translate that to your paper, imagine that where your pencil stopped is the center of a clock, what time on the clock would the new angle lead towards?), "proportion" (how many eyes wide is the head, etc.), "angle transfer" (sighting angles with a pencil and transferring them to the page without twisting your wrist). These are all drawing on the right side of the brain ideas, except for the clock face idea, which I THINK I made up, but maybe not. That seems to really help them. Anyway those tricks and other techniques might be written very lightly across the top of their page (erasable later) or I might have them on a table stand for their viewing. They are things I expect them to try, and when I'm not available, they are to ask someone else who gets it for help.


Make a Class Set of Supply Kits - from Jane in Brooklyn

I have had little or no time between classes. I found certain products made work easier, especially large Zip Lock Bags. I even mentioned to Judy that SAX could produce some very heavy Zip Locks for the way art teachers can use them.

I had an average of 32 students per class. I put two Zip Lock bags, one inside each other, together, and filled them with a mini art kit that had most of the materials we always used. Each kit was numbered, and each student had a number corresponding to the kit. (Jane made a class set)

A list of materials was on the outside of the kit, printed in Sharpie pen. At the end of the period, each student put everything back in the kit, except wet media. They left their brushes in the water if we were painting.

(Although I had a sink in my room, I made it off limits to all but my older student monitors who came in during my prep period to keep supplies in order and do major wash up. Paint water cups are the one pint take out soup kind from Chinese or other restaurants. WITH TOPS. When students leave the room, before they rise from their chairs, tops are put on the water cup tightly.

New class comes in. Checks the kit to be sure all materials are inside: Blunt (sadly) scissors, pencil, small simple plastic pencil sharpener, 2 sets of Crayons, regular and Construction Paper, Cray-Pas. (all in smaller separate zip lock bags, not in boxes) set of color pencils (ditto). Students know that the next class will be checking the kits and that they (the student that left an incomplete kit) will be responsible for anything missing).

If we have been painting, monitor at top of each row takes care of emptying dirty paint water into a bucket they (carefully) carry. A second monitor follows refilling just just half full (if water is needed for next class) The buckets are left under the sink, and I empty them at some point during class.

Whatever the medium, I give a three minute instruction or demo, then they take the appropriate media from their kits, and they start to work. If there is an incomplete kit I make note of it at that point. I personally check all kits at the end of the day. I printed up a list and photocopied it. I can see through the bags clearly and easily note any missing items.

I also put an empty smaller Zip Lock in the double bag so students could sharpen pencils inside the bag and not get shavings all over. I never put any kind of glue inside. Most of the time I use glue sticks which are easy to pass out and get returned at the end of the period.

Only I can use the electric sharpener, kept in the closet. Those tend to eat up pencils and naughty students abuse them, empty them on the floor, etc.

It takes a while to set up this system, and of course you need to vary it if you are using other materials.

This method works very well keeping supplies in order and ready to use, quickly. Ideally you could have a kit for each child you teach. If your school is able to afford the basic kit, or if parents can be charged for the kit, student ownership increases care of the supplies. The bonus is that if parents purchase, the kits can go home at the end of the year. Each kit costs about $10- $15 for the items I have listed, when purchased in bulk.


Organizing Supplies for Middle School - from Bunki Kramer

I'd suggest you get some blocks of scrap wood. For pencils, drill 36 holes just the size of your pencil diameters. Next time you use these pencils you'll be able to glance at the block and see what's missing. Honestly it works. No one leaves until they are all replaced. It's not a hassle, gives them responsibility, policing each other for the common good by peer pressure. Takes about 2 days to train and then they police their own friends. The only problem I have with our pencils is replacing them when they become stubs.

I also do that with my hand-held pencil sharpeners... block of wood with wood slats around the edges of the block so there is just enough room for 16 sharpeners to fit. I also do that with the erasers JUST fitting into a plastic tray so there can be only 36.

When we were using the Kneaded Rubber Erasers. I took a thick piece of cardboard and made 36 little squares on it. I pushed a straight pin from underneath the board through the center of each square and cut the very sharp tip off the end of the pins with a wire cutter. I now had 36 little metal stands for the kneaded erasers to fit on.

You can get creative in how you can lay out your supplies and be able to glance at them and see if anything is missing. If they know you're counting, they start counting and there's no hassles... and everybody wins!


Setting out supplies for elementary

This method works very well for younger students... I subbed a lot for a teacher who had those tool totes on each table. In the totes were all of the basic supplies Elementary uses (crayons, markers, container of erasers, can of pencils, scissors and glue bottles - enough for each kid at the table). She had tempera paints and water color paints set up on a supply table at all times - so it was very easy for her to switch to different media. One tip that she did was make a poster of what the tote tray should look like - neatly organized at the end of each class so kids could easily check supplies. The only problem she had was the "usual" eraser problem (mysteriously getting crumbled into little pieces). She just made sure she had an adequate supply to replace them. When they were doing 3-D or painting - the kids set the tote trays under the table. Clean-up was a breeze.

I had those long pencil boxes for middle school (so I could put rulers in them too). We counted everything at the end of the class period. I just put in them what we needed at the time. They weren't big enough for marker sets. The Sanford markers - 12 color sets - were easy to check thought to see if all were there.

Cardboard cheese boxes from the cafeteria are a nice freebie to use for organizing table supplies.

Have plenty of Zip lock bags on hand.


Color Coding Supplies for Elementary

For my elementary art room, I've found a color coding system works very well. Each table is assigned a name from the color wheel, and materials are placed in "supply boxes" marked with each of the colors. Glue, scissors, and pencils are standard supplies in the boxes. I've also found large plastic trays in the primary and secondary colors to use for markers, or other piece materials. Folding a piece of 12 x 18 (30.5 x 46 cm) construction paper in half serves as a folder for 2-D work of any size. We have often had classes over 30 students, and passing out unfinished art work was taking too much class time. With the folders, passing things out takes about 1 minute, the kids all find their own work in the! folder, and work begins. Each table "group" is responsible to keep their supplies in good shape for other classes. 3-D work is marked in a similar way with color coded name tags. When passing out 3-D work, each child gets out one piece of art work (not necessarily their own) and delivers it to the "table color" on the tag. Every piece is "delivered" in a very short time, and work begins.


Numbering Supplies for High School from Sue Freeland

I have begun to number everything... the watercolor trays, the paint brushes, the pastel boxes... everything I can. Each student has a number in my rank book and they keep that number, everything they use is that number. If a brush gets left in the sink I just go back to the person who used it last... A sub I had last year thought this was great, even he found it easy to use. My Brushes are in a holder all in order so the numbers are easy to find, the paint trays and pastels all have numbers on the ends as well as the tops so they are easy to find on the shelf. I do need to once in a while search out a tray that another person has "borrowed" I make them give it back and then locate theirs. Palettes are easy to track now (as to who is not cleaning them)... I have found that at the end of the year I have not gone through so much materials!


Keeping Colored Pencils and Markers in order from Cathy

It has always been a problem to keep colored pencil sets and marker sets together. My solution has been to place each boxed set into a large zip lock bag and then to number the bag. If students are in a rush , pencils will at least fall into the bag and not get separated from the rest. It works really well, however it still pays to have a monitor check to see if all the sets are returned and placed in order.


Getting set up for class from Cathy Wilson

Every day I put a "You Need" list on the board with all materials my kids will need that day. The kids can just look at the list and get all the materials that they need without me having to say anything. After a couple of weeks at the beginning of the year, everybody sets up without me having to say a word. If we are in the middle of a project, they usually set up and start working on their own.

Also... I set up my art tables in two parallel lines, with a space in the middle. I can walk right down the aisle and help any kid anytime.


Classroom Management Tips - from National Education Association. Dozens of articles.


Clean-up Tip from Jessica

My tables are set up in groups of 6, so I assign each student a number (1-6). Then, depending on the day and supplies each number gets or puts away certain things (#1's get water, #2's get watercolor paints, #3's paper towels, 4, 5 and 6's put away at end of hour). It really helps cut down on lines at the supplies, and everything gets put away in one spot.


Clean up for Middle School from Mary B

My middle schoolers know that clean- up is a cooperative effort and if they can't clean- up well they (their table) are the last to wash hands. This is a big deal especially when we do clay. I like watching them take responsibility for their mess. When I announce the clean-up jobs, I just stand back and watch. They rarely argue who will do what job, since there is really no time too. Sometimes I'm surprised how fast they can go! They also can earn Art Dollars doing positive things and good cleaning is one of them. I tried silent cleaning my first year of teaching. I felt like I was knocking my head against a wall and being a dictator. All you new teachers , you will eventually find something that fits your needs and personality as far as management. It just takes some time.


Clean up for Middle School from Andy DiConti

What works for me is breaking up the jobs into groups... assign a foreman, someone who will keep 'em going and on task. I have six jobs: floors, tables, brushes, palettes, workstation, and sinks. Once they think they're finished as a group, they sit down and wait for my evaluation. The best completed job/group gets dismissed first. Make 'em earn their way out of the room... if they're the last to leave one day, you can bet they'll do better the next. I usually allow for 10 minutes for clean-up. Anything more than that takes away from the project time - besides the jobs won't take that long when everyone pitches in... if anyone sits during the job when others in their group are still working, then that individual not working will be the last to leave.

End of Year Cleanup and High School Final from Ann Wilschke

I print out a list of what I want done, cut it up and put it in a JOB JAR. I also write on each job slip whether it is a one person job or a two person job. That way there is a slight element of surprise and sometimes they can work with a friend.

Test suggestions have been great! Last year I gave my advanced 8th grade class a test that had maybe 3 pages of objective questions, some short essay questions, and then they did a Andy Warhol inspired art work. The previous days we had learned about him. They knew there would be art work on Warhol as part of their final so they could plan ahead. Time allowed for them to take this home and work overnight too if they wanted and they all did! They were terrific. It was a learning experience and fun for them and a quick grade for me.

Clean up for Elementary from Kathleen

For my classes (K - 6), if we're not doing a wet or messy lesson, I only give them five minutes or less for clean up. Really messy lessons probably take eight minutes. That way, there's no extra unstructured time to mess around. They have to use those five minutes.

I tell them specific things like "Rescue that pencil on the floor!" or "Who can crawl under that table for me and get that crayon?". "Quick! Quick! Quick! We've got 30 more seconds!", etc. I talk fast, my eyes scanning what needs to be done, so they'll move fast. It's like a competition to see which table gets to line up first ("Hmmm, I see two tables that are almost ready. Who's going to be first in line . . . yes! The green table may line up."). That's the real motivator - getting to line up only when cleaned up. If one or two tables aren't cleaned up, sometimes I have to call them back if they try to sneak in line when their teacher arrives, and the teacher supports me by telling them to go back and pick up their mess. For the Kindergarteners and first graders, I tell them they need to "Find all the treasures on the floor! How many treasures can you find??" and make it sound really exciting. They say things like "Ahoy, matey!" and go scurrying around.

Other motivators are getting to use the sponge on their table, getting to use the broom or mop and getting to lift stools onto the tables for the last class. I don't know why, but they seem to like these things, especially since there's only one broom or mop in the room and only one sponge per table, so other students are kind of jealous when someone "gets to" use them. And if they're not using them appropriately, others are definitely waiting to do it for them


Cleanup for Elementary from Denise Pannell

I have P.A.W.s (Pannell's art workers) who are in charge of getting what is needed at their table- I list what they need to get at the beginning of class. We rotate every month. I also have given each student a job to do at the end of class, such as "pencil sharpener" (all the pencils are ready for the next class), "counter-top wiper", "sponge tosser" (oh, they LOVE that one), and "table dismisser". I also have six sets of everything in plastic boxes with lids so all they have to do is grab one. We only have 40 minutes & this seems to work on most days! I am pretty lenient when it comes to getting out of their seats. As long as they are not goofing off, I let them move freely to retrieve things.


I tell them that I am looking for a table that is cleaned up and ready to go. The first table cleaned up correctly and sitting on their stools gets to line up first. That matters to them, so they do a good job. Sometimes I still have a few stragglers, but their tablemates get on them. They all help each other clean up also, so no more "I didn't get that out. It's not mine."


Clean up for Elementary from Greg Percy

I play music to indicate it's time to clean up. My favorite is (of course) "Clean Up Anthem". from "Songs in the Key of Art Volume 4.." It's just under 4 minutes long, I wrote it in response to the overplayed and slightly annoying Barney clean-up song. When the music starts, they snap to it, knowing that they have to get done cleaning before the music stops. The other really helpful thing that I learned from another teacher- You're not cleaned up until you're sitting at your spot with your hands on top of you head. You're tables not cleaned up until everyone at your table does the same... if you have the urge to talk, push harder on the top of your head to keep your mouth closed. A quick glance across the room and you can tell who is ready to go and who is not. Teach your kinders this and it sticks until about 5th grade.


Clean up for Elementary from Jan Hillmer

When it's time for the kids to show me their art - I ask everyone (all at once) to hold up their work as they sit at their desk. Then I can scan the group all at once and give general praise...

The groups (table, area, etc) that are doing particularly well at cleaning up get loud praise from me immediately. Others usually hurry to do the same.


Cleanup for Elementary from Sharon Henneborn

I had numbers on the supply boxes and a check list for what is in it. The collectors check that supply box before starting work and report anything missing or broken. Saves disagreements at end of class. I knew by the sign out list who had used each box all day. Helped with accountability. When I could I had an extra bag for a replacement that could be exchanged to replace a flawed box until I could track down or repair when needed.

Zip-Lock freezer bags are great! Especially for markers. If the cap is left off it doesn't dry up quickly in the zip-lock.


Cleanup for Elementary with no time between classes - from Marvin Bartel

How about doing both the clean up for this session and the set up work for the following period at the end of each period? Overall, this probably saves 30 or 40 percent of the time spent in setting up and cleaning up each day. 

Each end-of-class task is posted (or listed).  Each table has individuals for each task as well as a checker. When one student completes a task, the checker assigns the person as an assistant to another student with work remaining.  More students are busy and fewer are sitting and waiting to leave. The next class gets on task as soon as they arrive - especially if class beginnings are structured and predictable.


This essay discusses beginning and ending class with rituals.

It has a link to additional activities to start a class session.


End of Year Inventory for High School from Jackie Brewer

I actually make it part of my final exam (have them for two hours).. I call it actually an inventory exam. The students have to identify items as drawing, painting, sculpture, general tools, adhesives, types of paper, etc. I have done this for about 18 years and it works great. The only preparation the first is dividing your categories and numbering your cabinets. Cleaning is part of categories. Sorting by kind of brushes is part of categories. Then I print out a large number for each cabinet, drawer, shelf, etc. The students come in and draw from the box a number and I match it with the cabinet, that is their assignment. This year I am going to do it in great detail again. It works for me, it is 50% of exam, other 50 percent is presentation of last two studio projects. I have my room clean, inventory done, and I know where everything is next year


Middle School Cleanup from Kara LiCausi

My students often joke about how organized I am, but I feel that organization is the key to a well run art room. This is my first year teaching Middle School, but beginning with the first day of school I drill into my students the idea that there is a definite order to our room. We have a 5 minute warning bell, which eliminates any confusion as to when clean-up begins.


I have a supply table in the front of the room, and every table has their own supply bucket that is numbered. They know that I check to make sure all supplies are in the buckets and that they are placed back in numerical order. Any other supplies that are being used are also placed there. With everything numbered, it's very easy to see that Table 3 forgot to hand in their scissors and so on. I even number the slip containers to make sure that the covers are put on tight and not left around the room.


When we are working with clay, I remind them to sponge the tables and ask who is going to be the "Sponge Bob" for the table. They get a kick out of that and the tables are always clean. Constant praise always works, and the kids seem to feel much more comfortable knowing that there is a process and order to at least a small portion of their day. I always feel confidant knowing that if I am out for the day, I will still come in to school finding the room exactly how I left it.


Another thing I find helpful is to have a box for each period for the students sketchbooks to go in, that way we never lose track of any work. We also have a closet for each period with a shelf for each student, so that they always keep their basic art supplies in the room and there is never any of those "I left it in my locker" excuses.


Cleanup and Art Room Rules for Middle School from Marcia

We have the "Big 3" which are school wide rules that basically cover everything.  "Be respectful, Be responsible, Be on time & ready."  On the first day of school we discuss these rules and I ask the students, "What would be an example of something that is NOT respectful in an art room?"  and so forth.  This way, the students also know specifically what not to do (like leave messes or run in the art room).  We even talk about what kind of language is disrespectful and give examples (like "shut up").  I try to cover all bases with this and the 3 rules cover everything.


For clean-up, I may have posted this before, but it is the BEST thing I've ever done. It took about 2 hours to prepare, but has saved me so much hassle with cleanup.  I made a color coded job chart. Four large squares: red, orange, yellow, blue.  Each table seats four people (occasionally five, but then that leftover person is just my "special helper" for whatever random task I have).  Then, I made little tags with job on each tab (large print and a little picture).  Jobs such as: clean paintbrushes, refill water cup, throw away garbage, wipe table, etc..  The tags have Velcro on them, as does the job chart.  On the table, I painted one color at each seat.  I put the task for each seat on the job chart every day.  At the beginning of the class period, I will say, "All the orange people today will wash the brushes.. and so forth." That way, each child is responsible for one job at their table and it is an easy reference and everything gets done. I don't let the child leave the room until their job is done.  I haven't had much problem with cleanup since I started this job chart.


End of Year Clean up from Linda Woods

I do the same thing (assign student jobs), kids love to help, and I give 15 minutes of recess at the end as reward.

These are the jobs that were on my list this year:

  • Art bins... like items in the right places

  • test markers, throw away bad ones

  • pick out crayon paper scraps from crayon bins also do this with Cray-Pas.

  • sort through books and make sure they are correctly categorized... art history, crafts, drawing, etc.
    look through all brushes and regroup by size, throwing away bad ones (I check first to see if they are really bad.)

  • Throwing away pencil stubs

  • Clean clay tools

  • put new nametags on bins for following year (blanks)

  • scrub tables, give them paint scrapers and good sponges, and a LITTLE bit of Ajax.

  • Clean stools of paint drips

  • wash fronts of cabinets

  • take down bulletin board paper

  • straighten paper racks and fill for following year

  • clean scissors with Goo Gone

  • condense glues and throw away empties

  • sort through poster rack to see if they are categorized correctly

  • clean out storage bins

  • sort jewelry tools

You could have jobs written on slips of paper and students select their job from a hat.


Handing back Elementary Artwork from Janet H

All my kids K-5 have a portfolio and save all their art to take home at open house in the spring. This year, it was early, so I have quite a few pieces for them to take home now. They are getting them all back in a temporary newspaper portfolio which they will take home the day of their art class. I'm only asking my kindergarten teachers to had back the art to their kids.



Eight Secrets to Class Design - create an attractive, fun learning space by following this advice from colleagues across the country. Adaptable to any subject.