Monday, August 6, 2012

Keep Art In Schools

That's a bumper sticker or something, right? I don't know about you guys, but our kids do not get enough exposure to art. We no longer have an art teacher for our ancillary rotations. With all the emphasis on preparing for state tests, with rising accountability-I see more and more teachers straying away from incorporating art.

Our district curriculum doesn't include art at all-even for early childhood. I know that the state has standards for it, however, it's not considered something important or in some cases, even something acceptable to spend time on. But of course, I've been teaching long enough that I can be kind of a rebel. *innocent smile*

Art is one of my passions! I could spend all day in a museum. I took an Art History class in college my senior year as an elective, if I would have taken it my freshman year, I might have changed majors! :) I really cannot resist imparting that on my students. My kids know who Michelangelo and Rivera are. By the end of the year I can say-make a collage or watercolor a picture and they know exactly what that means for them to do.

I think if we want kids to have creative minds when it comes to problem-solving or writing-it starts with artistic expression. Now, I'm not talking about a craft (where the teacher cuts out all the pieces and the students glue it together and all the products look the same-I don't have a problem with those kinds of activities, however, that's not art). I'm talking about kids creating what their imaginations allow them to create-there are no rules in art in my classroom. One of the things I love about doing art projects with kids is seeing the variety of ideas they come up with! Where to start? Here are some ideas:

1) Self-portraits--love these! Paint them, make collages of them, use leaves and sticks from a nature hike, use snacks (they even make these curly-cue cheetos now that are perfect for hair!). Self-portraits make great additions to portfolios and if you do them on a monthly basis-you can see remarkable progress.

2) Watercolor-this is not a messy activity-water and paint. The kids are fascinated by the way the water turns colors, they love mixing colors to make new colors-let them experiment a little bit. I love seeing their faces as they paint. By the way, I have had many a student who have never even held a paintbrush before (one tried to paint with the plastic end of the brush)-so you do have to go over everything in the beginning, but they pick it up very quickly.

3) Clay-there's more to art than paintings. Show them some famous sculptures-let them create a Dr. Suess character or a new kind of insect. Talk about hands-on learning!

(this is a new candy they invented after reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

4) Collages-now this one, they have to develop patience for. I would start with something small like their face or a penguin. Some get frustrated with tearing paper and really want to cut it-I let them do it. Some just glue huge pieces on and say "I'm done"--I let them do it. But some of them will come up with really unique, beautiful mosaics. 

(you can use all kinds of different materials-these are snowmen-sometimes they go a little crazy with the beads and bobbles-but it's their vision).

(dyed macaroni shells)

5) Painting with various things-cutting vegetables or fruits to paint with, leaves/rocks-it can go along with your units. Kids are taught that they can use unconventional things to make art. I want them to be at the beach over the summer and see a seashell and think-I could paint something cool with that. It stays with them!

Will it be a little messy? Absolutely. But everything is washable and I tell the parents in the beginning, the more messy an activity, the more fun it was, right? 

And when I have to justify doing an art project to the standardized-data-police, I can always state a writing objective-they just write about what they made. :)


  1. I agree, art must stay in our schools. It makes me sad for all of those students that are really artsy and maybe not into any other aspect of school, what about them??? Heaven help my kids if I am ever expected to teach art (because as much as I love it, um yeah, I'm not so good). That's why they need an ART teacher. Best of luck this year trying to teach all of the art standards with everything else. You're my hero and you will be your kids hero too, they just don't know it yet.

    :) Nicole
    Tadpole Tidbits

  2. YOU hit the nail on the head with this one! I *LOVE* incorporating art in our lessons. Its one of the things that I loved the most about elementary school when I was a kid! We're expected to begin prepping for state testing @ birth and anything fun has been deemed unecessary. Being an "artsy fartsy" kinda person myself, I incorporate "purposeful art" into as many lessons as possible! It's kinda my hook that keeps their attention and creates lasting memeories at the same time! =)

    Mrs. Dwyer’s A+ Firsties

  3. I love all your self-expression-through-art ideas. Art is a valid means of communication. We learn about some famous artists in my room too. I love it when a kidlet shows me something and says - it's Mr. Van Gogh stars, or - I did it big like Georgia O'Keefe flowers. I am not artistic - I draw a mean stick figure! I figure it is still my job to allow my artists to express themselves from their souls.

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