Many teachers have closed their classroom doors and have said goodbye to their lesson plan books until August. I bet many of you have planned vacations with your own families. But with so many weeks away from work, what do you do to stay motivated with your career? There are so many opportunities available over the summer to keep you on your toes, and you can relax at the same time.
Once my classrooms are closed, I like to take at least a few days after checking out of the schools to put my feet up and enjoy time with my daughter...especially since she will be a big sister in another few weeks. I may be relaxing, but with my multi-tasking brain, I like to gather a list of things to do over the summer that are fun, but still educational for my family ad for my own personal P.D.
Here are a few things I have one so far to stay on top of my art curriculum, educate my family, and have fun!
Visit a local museum. This year, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago has the Lascaux Cave exhibit, which features the cave structure, paintings, preservation, and artist renderings of the cave paintings discovered by 4 teenage boys in Lascaux, France. The museum re-created areas of the caves to show the paintings, who the prehistoric people looked like, and how the paintings are preserved. And how does this fit into my curriculum? I teach prehistoric cave paintings in 6th grade, plus I instruct on how art documented history, and how the preservation of such artifacts are crucial in keeping history alive. My daughter asked so many questions about the caves and the paintings, which made it a fun experience all around. With living in close proximity to the city, I have access to many world-known museums, like the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Science and Industry, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, plus many cultural museums within the city limits and ethnic neighborhoods. Just because a museum is not "art-based" does not mean it has nothing to do with your curriculum or professional development. As art teachers, we thrive on project-based learning, and cross-curricular ideas come into our classroom all the time.
Go to a gallery. Art galleries feature many local and national artists, and are great ways to discover local artists in your area that you may want to invite into your classroom as a visitor. In my experience, when students meet artists who are currently working in the field, they are more excited and can see how art can be a potential future job. Also, local galleries can offer classes in painting, drawing, sculpture, or any artistic medium that you may with to work with, or sign your kids up for as a summer program. It keeps you and your kids busy on those hot, summer days, and you're practicing your skills as well. Attending a gallery opening is one of my most favorite things to do. You meet the artists and see new works on their opening day!
Visit an art studio. Just like galleries, there are plenty of artist studios that have classes available for you and/or your little ones. The experience is similar to visiting a gallery, but more of a behind-the-scenes into the art-making process kind of fun. Look into your local community for artist studios and research to see if there are classes offered during the summer. Many ceramic studios offer classes and a hands-on look at how clay can be used for many types of artworks, and how a kiln is run!
Going on vacation? Take lots of pictures or bring a sketchbook. Every summer, we visit the lake. I've been so inspired by the lake that I take too many pictures, sketch too many drawings, and paint too many watercolors. You know...there's no such thing as too much of anything with what we love to do! I find the best inspiration from the place I am the most comfortable.
I love how I can catch up with my own personal techniques over the summer. What better way than to utilize some talent while on a family trip? You can even have your own kids taking pictures or drawing in their own sketchbooks!
Speaking of working on your own personal artworks, I posted about working on your own art last year around this time, and if you wish to visit that page instead of searching through my archives, just visit my article called Plan Time for Your Own Art.
Visit a local faire. My family and I are Renaissance Faire goers. There is so much to take in and learn at the faire, and we make it a fun and educational experience. There are glass blowers, blacksmiths, art demonstrations, chalk drawing, face painting, hair braiding, dancing...too much to list. On top of that, it's FUN!!!!!!! If you live near a local Renaissance festival, please visit and you may see what I'm talking about! Local festivals are also a fun experience. You're not only visiting your local community, but there are also arts and craft shows advertising local artists (which may be yourself if you choose to enter). Fairs and festivals are great opportunities to promote your work, and you can even have that time to showcase what you teach in your classroom to parents who come to the fairs and festivals.
There are also plenty of professional opportunities you can do over the summer, especially since you may have the time to squeeze in those extra CPDU's and college credits required by your district. For ways you can boost your professional growth, visit my previous article called The Power of Professional Development. The article discusses this summer's online art education conference and ways to find opportunities to stay active social media and state organizations.
If you are off school for the summer, enjoy your time off and find ways to stay active while you're out having fun!