Monday, April 9, 2018

Ideas for Early Finishers

Please check out my previous article, "Ideas for Early Finishers" from Arts & Activities Magazine

Your students are in the middle of a project, but some of them are starting to approach you with finished artworks.  There are quite a few options you have for your early finishers that would work for you and your students.

Encourage students to enhance their pieces.  If your students followed all the objectives and finished far ahead, encourage your student to add more. Sometimes those extra finishing touches can make your student’s piece stand out! This is a good opportunity to do a formative assessment with your students to help them see their work from different perspectives.

Use this time for students to write artist statements or self reflections.  Since our school uses Artsonia, I have students include an artist statement along with their artworks.  If you use Artsonia, consider using the student mode for students to add their statements directly to their artworks.  You can also use Google Classroom with the intermediate grade levels, which makes it easy to copy and paste artist statements into Artsonia.

Create worksheets related to the project.  This also works as a good wrap up to a unit!  For many of my projects, I utilize worksheets to help build upon the objectives of the lesson.  

Create a resource center.  A resource center provides additional materials for students to use independently until all the students have completed their work.  Your resource center can be as small as a bin on your cart, or as large as a shelving unit in your room.   In my room, I have an art library shelving unit filled with many options for students to use once they have finished with everything listed above.   Your resource center can hold many of the items listed:

Coloring pages are not just for the kindergarteners! Even though I encourage the kindergarteners to practice coloring in the lines, all grade levels enjoy time to just color without worry.  

Blank paper is always good to have on hand.  There will always be a handful of students to want to use the time to practice their own drawing skills, and what better way to help inspire them to use “How to Draw” books.  

Scrap paper is another resource to have on hand since many kids enjoy making their own collages.  After trimming down paper for project sizes, I always have a pile of multicolor scraps that students love to use.  And if you teach them paper sculpture?  Your scrap bin will empty out faster than you know!

Art games can be fun and educational, without disturbing other students to are completing their artworks.  I have a bin in the art library containing games that students can play with two or more people, such as Art Lingo (a visual bingo that helps students with their art vocabulary), Hue Knew! (to help students match colors), Tangoes shape puzzles, and art puzzles.  The games are labeled in baggies for easy clean up with the art class is finished.

Art-inspired books are also a good resource to have in your stash.  Students love to borrow books from the art library, and many times, I catch them creating their own artworks inspired by the books they read!

What do you do for your early finishers?

Art Teacher Blogs

This post is a part of The Art Ed Blogger's Network: Monthly Tips and Inspiration from Art Teacher Blogs. On the first Tuesday each month, each of these art teacher blogs will post their best ideas on the same topic.

Participating Art Teacher Blogs:

Friday, April 6, 2018

Celebrating Earth Day in the Art Room: April's Stepping Stones

Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd, which marks the anniversary of the start of the environmental movement in 1970. On that day, we find ways to take care of and replenish our planet. Earth Day is now the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year. There are many ways to recognize Earth Day within your classroom, as well as ways to conserve your materials and give your part in helping the earth. No matter how to try to help the planet, you can be an advocate for Earth Day!

Include recycled projects in your lessons and classroom. There are plenty of project ideas you can find in blogs, Pinterest, and online forums that incorporate recycled materials. Think about what materials are easy to collect yourself, or use materials that have been donated to you. Bottle caps make great murals, and they also make great bug sculptures for Spring projects. If you plan far enough ahead, you can have letters send home to parents asking for materials, such as paper towel tubes, newspaper, unused paper plates, washed out containers, 2-liter bottles, or more! You can also collect recycled materials to use in the art room for water cups, plates, containers, and storage bins. As beautiful as the room could be with color-coded, purchased storage bins, recycled containers will achieve the same purpose.

Design gifts that continue to grow in the classroom or at home. There are many projects that can be designed in the art room that can continue to bloom at home! Ceramic projects (pots, cups, or vessels) can hold plants and can grow seeds (chia seeds, grass, etc.). If you do not have access to clay, you can always use milk carton containers to design, or any other vessel that can hold seeds and plants. You can also have students document the growth of a plant from seeds by having them sketch the stages of growth from seedling to full flower, which ties in science.

Explore the world of earth art. One of the most popular “Earth Art” lesson ideas is inspired by the artist Andy Goldsworthy, who is known for his artworks created from natural elements. Earth art is also known as “Land Art” or Earthworks,” where artists use the natural landscape to create sculptures. Earth art comes directly from the source, such as stones, water, dirt, and tree elements (branches and leaves). Other Earth artists to study would be Robert Smithson, Nancy Holt, and Richard Long. April would be the perfect time to take classes outside to create individual or collaborative earthworks within your school grounds. If you receive permission from administration, you can use any collected leaves, branches, rocks, soil or water. Creating a collaborative Earthwork would be a fun project and a beautiful addition to any school or community!

Create a collaborative outdoor rock garden. A very popular collaborative school-wide project that’s been successful in many schools is the rock garden, inspired by “Kindness Rocks” or the book “Only One You” by Linda Kranz. Rock gardens make a beautiful addition to any school and leaves a lasting memory. The project can include all faculty and students within the school. Although rocks are a natural element of the earth, rock gardens are created with painted images on each rock, along with an acrylic spray coating to keep the colors lasting. If you’re ever interested in creating a rock garden of your own, first bring the idea to your administration, then contact local landscaping companies for possible donations. Many would be more than happy to donate pebbles needed for your garden! Please remember to not collect rocks from state and national parks.


Teach your students to watch their waste. Do you have students who want to throw the paper away after one little mistake? One of the main rules I share in the beginning of the year is to watch the waste with paper, paint, and other materials used. Students are shown how to turn their papers over if a mistake is made, as well as how to save space with colored construction paper when creating collage projects. The best way to have students watch their own waste is to follow by example. Make sure to remind students to watch what they use, especially when it comes to paint and construction paper


Recycle! If your school has a recycle program, make use of it! Create a recycle bin and guide students to watch where they place their waste at the end of class. It will help them to remember to recycle throughout the day!

Even with all the consumable materials we use for lessons, we can still teach our students how to be aware of their waste and help take care of our planet. One step at a time!