Saturday, August 31, 2013

Young Creative Minds: Introducing Kindergarteners to the Art Room

While my child was in preschool, I loved everything she brought home and how excited she was to see her teachers and friends.  She was in a small class with plenty of attention, so I didn't worry about how she would be in kindergarten..  It wasn't until she entered the public school system when something hit me.

I am now that parent.  You know the one who cries as their child climbs the steps of the bus?  Yeah, that was me.  My daughter is also going through major changes: being a big sister, going to a new school, meeting new friends, and having a new schedule all within a month time.  She is one of many kindergarteners going through the same thing.

Being in a new school is scary.  For the kindergartener, they're thrust into this big building away from home and in a class where they compete for attention among 20-40 other children their age.  It's no wonder anxiety is high with many of these students.

Being in a new school can also be exciting too.  In the first few weeks, students are soaking up all the "newness" of the year; new classroom, new projects, and new friends.  On top of dealing with anxious students, you're also dealing with the excited ones.

When you first get the kindergarten class, you will have a mixture of whole new personalities and a number of new names to memorize.  You will get criers, talkers, bouncers (you know...the ones that can't sit still), and shy ones.

In the beginning of the year, try some ways to make your kindergarteners comfortable in the art room.  There are plenty of tricks to try out and it depends on what works for you.

Trick #1: Do you have a space for a "circle time" or reading time?  Start off your class in a small group instead of seating them in their chairs right away.  I noticed when gathering the students in a small space, they focused more on what I was saying instead of what was around the room.  I also have a small easel drawing board for demonstrations and identification activities.

If you are on a cart, check with the teacher beforehand to find out if there is a designated reading area in the classroom.

Trick #2: Start off with a story.  For my kindergartener's first class, I start off with reading Caldecott Book Winner "Olivia" by Ian Falconer.  I use that book to explain how Olivia uses her imagination, and how in art, we use our imaginations in everything we make.  You can find your own book to use as an icebreaker to welcome your students!

Trick #3: Start off with a tour. Before sitting the students down in their seats, lead them into the room in a line.  Walk them around the room and point out things they should know (ex. this is the sink...this is the drying rack...etc.).   Identifying the space will help students to know what's in the new room and where they can go during class time.  This may not always work since some students may want to wander around the moment they walk in.

If you are on a cart, it's obvious you do not need to give a tour.  Instead of walking students around the room, try an identification game to make students familiar with materials used to make art (example: a pencil is used to draw, a paintbrush is used to make paintings, etc.)

Trick #4: Play a scavenger hunt.  Starting off with the rules is always key, but what if you made a game out of it?  Create a hunt using images to look for and have students circle what they find.  When the students are done, have them sit in a spot to share what they have found.

If you are on a cart, you can still have a scavenger hunt, but change your hunt to objects that would be in the general classroom that you can use for art projects, like pencils, erasers, paper clips, etc.

Once you have your students warmed up to you and your room, start going over your classroom rules and procedures so students know your expectations.

I wish everyone good luck in the beginning of the school year, and I hope all goes well with everything!

What tricks do you have to welcome kindergarteners to art?


  1. Thank you. Lovely post. Very helpful to think of these things again as I send my oldest to college and start teaching in our schools new early childhood center.

  2. Thank you for reading! It was very interesting experiencing this from the parent's view this time around. I didn't realize how much anxiety my daughter would have until I saw it for myself.

  3. Great suggestions. I have always started my class on the rug as we talked together about what happens in the art room but I never considered a tour. I will definitely incorporate that idea into my plans when K begins later in the month. I also like the idea of a scavenger hunt.

    Art on my Hands