MAKING TIME FOR ART
As a primary teacher with a degree in visual art and art history, it’s so sad for me to hear that art programs across the country are being eliminated, art budgets being cut, and that teachers just don’t have time for art lessons because of increased pressure to get through other curriculum.
I’ve experienced the same things in my own district, and so I am trying to think of art in a different way to come up with some solutions.
PROBLEM & SOLUTION 1:
Materials Are Too Expensive and Hard to Find.
This is true for some art programs, but actually as classroom teachers we can create amazing art with kids without needing a lot of expensive supplies. Pastels, paint, scissors, glue, chalk, paper and a few other easy-to-find supplies is all we need. And you won’t need expensive art equipment either; you can improvise!
For example: What do you do with a class full of wet paintings at the end of the day, and no drying rack? We use our stacked chairs as a drying rack!
PROBLEM & SOLUTION 2:
Not Enough Time in the School Day.
There is increasing pressure to spend more time on core academics, and art is sometimes seen as an afterthought. However, an art lesson doesn’t have to be long to be effective and engaging, especially if you can establish a system of distributing and collecting supplies and work.
PROBLEM & SOLUTION 3:
Pressure to Focus on Academics
No problem – we can easily integrate our art with writing projects. For example, when studying art history, we’re also studying maps of the world, cultural information and world history all at once! Every lesson can be a vehicle for creative or descriptive writing.
PROBLEM & SOLUTION 4:
No Background in Art History
How can you teach about art history with no background or the time to learn it?
Over the years, I’ve created art lessons about famous artists based on information gathered during my art degree. I shared these lesson with teachers in my school, and also with many student teachers over the years.
Since these new teachers didn’t have time to collect information for these lessons, I wrote “scripts” for them to read aloud to students. They detailed everything about the artist, and questions I would ask during the class discussions.
My lessons were used from k-5, so the scripts are age-appropriate for elementary, and the questions that are embedded facilitate an authentic conversation. This is so important because a main purpose of art is conversation and sharing of ideas!
FAMOUS ARTISTS AND LITERACY
I am a primary classroom teacher, and therefore responsible for all other subjects as well. However, each year we teach the comprehensive art program to a mixture of primary and intermediate students. We often invite older classes to join us, which I highly recommend!
For example, the first lesson of Art History #1 is cave art. We found great pictures and virtual tours of cave art online, and read the script which describes how a young boy discovered the first cave drawings while searching for his lost dog.
Afterwards, we all helped to crumple up a large sheet of bulletin board paper to create a huge “cave wall”, and used charcoal and chalk to make our own versions of the drawings.
We also made small versions of our cave drawings to put in our Art History Scrapbooks, and wrote a “Reflect & Review” writing template about what we had learned. Many students chose to write about the experience during writer’s workshop the next day.
MORE ART HISTORY TOPICS
We also explore Egyptian hieroglyphics, Roman mosaics, DaVinci’s paintings and inventions, Rembrandt, Monet, Van Gogh and many others. I’ve used this program for 12 years now, and each year I add more photos and lessons, such as coloring sheets and word searches for early finishers.
You can read more about how this collection has been used by 1000+ teachers HERE .
Thanks for the amazing feedback!
MORE FAMOUS ARTISTS & LESSONS
Once we have completed those 12 lessons, we move on to Art History 2.
This time we focus on more modern artists, and women artists, from North America and Europe. Since this was used by student teachers, I added step-by-step photos to make it truly “grab and go” with no prep.
I also added more literacy integrations, such as mini-books about each artist, word searches, reflection writing, creative writing prompts, directed drawing pages, and coloring sheets for early finishers. They are so motivated to write about their own creations!
DISPLAYING ART IN YOUR CLASS
As with Set 1, each lesson begins with discussion. The teacher script guides the conversation – there are questions embedded. I use my projector to show images I find in simple google searches as reference. I also suggest specific paintings to search for within each lesson plan so you know what to search for when studying each artist.
Next, I project the step-by-step photos so students can see how the project is made. This will saves me a LOT of time because I don’t have to create the example while students watch, and it leaves more of the processing of information up to them, as opposed to just copying the teacher. The beauty of art is how each students find his or her own expressive way to create!
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: SCRAPBOOKS
Once the art projects are complete, they can be kept in scrapbooks or put up on display in the hallway. There are several literacy projects for early finishers or to extend your learning later in the week.
ART AND OTHER CULTURES
The lessons are displayed in a step by step format so that students can refer to them as we go along. They can also be laminated and used as art cards in an independent art center or early finishers bin. My advanced students LOVE this center, and the nice thing is that there are both art and literacy components. This is a simple way to fill both my art center AND my literacy center for the week!
There are currently four collections to choose from:
Art History 1, Art History 2, Art Around the World, and Seasonal Crafts Through The Whole Year.
You can see them all by clicking below, or keep reading for details about Seasonal Crafts!
SEASONAL ART PROJECTS
As a primary teacher, I can’t forget about seasonal crafts! Our room is full of bats, reindeer, snowmen, hearts, or rainbows depending on what season it is!
I’ve put together all of my favorite crafts ideas through the year into one package. For me, they work in a binder and organized by the month. This way I can just find what I need and pull it out quickly. I have also laminated the pages to use the same way as described above, as an ART CARD in the art center. Seasonal writing templates are included for my literacy centers.
Here are some pictures from my classroom!
You can see the whole year of art projects by clicking HERE.
ART AROUND THE WORLD AT CHRISTMAS
If you’re looking for more crafts and literacy for the Christmas season, you can see them in this set. It contains an entire literacy booklet for each country, as well as crafts (with some extra bonus crafts in the most recent update!)
FREE TED HARRISON ART LESSON!
Would you like to try an art lesson with your class?
Click the image to download a free lesson from Art History for Elementary 1
about Ted Harrison focusing on warm and cool colors.
FREE VAN GOGH ART LESSON!
Or you may wish to try this Vincent Van Gogh Lesson from the sets mentioned above. It focuses on noticing how light reflects, and needs very simple materials. And no mess!!
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I hope these ideas inspire the little artists in your classroom!
If you’d like to take a quick look at all art lessons and seasonal crafts for your classroom, just click HERE!
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