Frequently Asked Questions
 
Can I use ideas from this website in my own Art classroom?
I am a new Art teacher... what should I do with my classes on the first week of school?
How do you present a new lesson to your students? Do you do a demonstration or show them what the final outcome should look like?
Do you have any advice for projects for students who finish early?
What type of behavior plans do you use in the Artroom?
Do you have any recommendations for childrens' books to go along with Art lessons?
Do you have any recommendations about Art classroom seating arrangements?
How do you keep your classroom organized?
What are your favorite Art supplies?
My school does not have any Art program but I'd like to incorporate some Art projects into my regular ed classroom? Where do I start?
How do you create cross curriculum connections?
How do you "grade" your students Art projects?
What program did you use to design this website?
How did you create your Facebook blog? Is it the same as a personal Facebook profile?
How can I frame my child's school artwork?
Do you have any suggestions for pre-school (ages 4 and under) Art lessons?
Do you offer private Art lessons?
Do you have any recommendations for projects I can do at home with my child?


Can I use ideas from this website in my own Art classroom?

Yes! You have my permission to use the ideas on this website to create lessons in your own classroom. Some of my ideas are based on lessons I found online or from talking to other art teachers. Don't worry too much about the "exact" instructions about the projects. Do what works for you based on the materials you have available. :) I sometimes change my lessons based on the needs of my students, the art budget from year to year, and many other factors. Feel free to email me if you have any questions during the school year :)

I am a new Art teacher... what should I do with my classes on the first week of school?
On the first day of Art we do the rules, tour of the artroom, names and attendance, practice fire drill... then to keep it simple and open on the first day of Art I usually do the same project with all grades. This past year I read the story "The Dot", and the kids started with a simple "dot" on their paper and turned into an abstract design. Other years I have said, "Draw what you did over summer vacation", or "Draw a portrait of your new teacher this year"... Usually after all the intro/rules there is only about 15 mins of drawing time on the first day. For young kids who have no school experience keep it really simple. Maybe read them "Harold and the Purple Crayon" and have everyone draw their own purple picture. But usually the first day I fill mostly with routine, intros, etc... by week 2 they have usually adjusted better to school and you can try more projects then. :)

How do you present a new lesson to your students? Do you do a demonstration or show them what the final outcome should look like?
I do both. We start by gathering together on a big carpet. I sit in the front on a chair. I start by showing them the final outcome... usually a student example, or an example done by me at the student skill level. Then I demonstrate the steps to complete it. Sometimes I demo ALL the steps at the beginning and then let them get to work... but other times I only demo one step at the a time and the they follow along with me. It depends how hard the steps are to remember. :) Also, I always like the have the steps written large where kids can read them.

Do you have any advice for projects for students who finish early?
Yes! Visit my "Choice Time" page for a detailed list of activities! I call the time "Choice Time" rather than "Free Time" because "Free Time" can be associated with recess or playtime, and I aim to keep all students actively involved in Art processes the entire time they are in my classroom.

What type of behavior plans do you use in the Artroom?
I use several strategies. One thing I do is select an "Art Star" at the end of class, and I base my decision on effort and behavior. I remind the kids of this if they are getting too noisy. The Art star gets a sticker and their name written... on a poster.  You could also get creative and do things like "Secret Students". Tell the kids that you are mentally selecting one person... and after 5 minutes if that person was able to control the volume of their voice and work productively you'll tell them all who it was and that person can get a sticker. I say "It could be anyone.. it could be you... so everyone should act like they could be the secret student." Lets see.... I was sometimes have "whisper Art" or when it gets really loud we have to switch to "silent Art". i also have a chart called "Star Class"... at the end of every class we discuss how the class-wide behavior was and we choose a color... blue, green, yellow, red (blue is the best). We fill in the chart for that week. Kids can compare their class to other classes.

Do you have any recommendations for childrens' books to go along with Art lessons?
Check out the author Laurence Anholt (Anholt's Artists Books for Children). He has written books like: Van Gogh and the Sunflowers, Leonardo and the Flying Boy, Picasso and the Girl with a Ponytail, and many many more...  Available on Amazon.com
Do you have any recommendations about Art classroom seating arrangements?
I have found that students who sit next to their "best friends" tend to copy eachothers ideas because they are more self-conscious about what their friends think. They are more likely to use their own creative ideas when sitting next to students who they are not as friendly with. I actually completed my Masters thesis paper on this very topic and I gathered lots of quantitative and qualitative data supporting the idea of assigned seating in the Art classroom.

How do you keep your classroom organized?
My best recommendation for staying organized it use lots and lots of labels. The kids are very used to looking for labels now, and they know they should only put things away where they belong.  Also, when I first got this job I emptied out all the cupboards and shelves and laid everything out to see. I sorted and organized things in a way that made sense to me. I have found that that helps a lot with inventory, and quick and easy access to materials. :-)  As far as keeping my lessons organized.... I have a list for each grade level of what lessons I teach. This is my master list. Then, each year, I make a photocopy of that list and cross things off or date them as I do each lessons. So I can keep track of what I have done year after year and be sure not to repeat something. :-) It also helps with building units that progress over the years.

What are your favorite Art supplies?
MARKERS- Mr. Sketch markers: I like these better than Crayola because I think the color seem brighter and they smudge less when the kids are working with them. I prefer the non-scented ones so the kids dont get distracted with smelling the markers. I also love black SHARPIE markers: I have the kids use these on tons of projects for outlining before we color with Mr. Sketch markers.

OIL PASTELS- My favorites are the Crayola oil pastels. I think they work great for oil pastel and watercolor resist. They smudge less that some ofthe other brands I have tried.

TEMPERA CAKES- I love tempera cakes as an alternative to liquid tempera and/or watercolors. My favorite brand is Richeson Tempera Color Blocks. They create deeper darker colors. I often use these instead of watercolors with my kids.  I set them up on a tray like in this photo: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=2667383&id=113044153014&ref=fbx_album They are fast and easy cleanup because I pick up the whole tray, clean the brushes quickly in water, and then just let the tempera cakes air dry. I have 6 tables, and i put out new tempera cakes in September on the first day of school and they last the whole school year. For color mixing.... They are admittedly not as good as liquid tempera. So... I do a basic color paint mixing lesson in 3rd grade using tempera cakes, and then in 4th grade we move onto liquid tempera color mixing.

LIQUID TEMPERA PAINT- I use Crayola washable tempera paint. its good to use washable with elementary level students... especially since we no longer use smocks in my classroom due to headlice concerns.

ACRYLIC PAINT- I don't use acrylic often, but when I use I have use Blicrylic by Dick Blick.

PENCILS- I like Dixon Ticonderoga #2

COLORED PENCILS- Prismacolor pencils are worth the extra money... they have a softer feel to them and the kids can blend colors more easily.

CRAYONS- I prefer Crayola... but I have also used Prang. I like crayola best, they are less waxy and have brighter colors. My students really like the new twistable crayons by Crayola... they last longer, but they only have a limited color selection.

PAPER- TruRay paper is the best... but it is expensive... I usually use Riverside... its a good compromise with color quality and price.

GLUE- Elmers liquid school glue is my favorite. I use liquid glue with all the kids, including kindergarten because it holds so much stronger than glue sticks.

My school does not have any Art program but I'd like to incorporate some Art projects into my regular ed classroom? Where do I start?
I would start by reading some stories about shapes or colors and doing some art projects based on those concepts. "White Rabbits Color Book" or "Brown Rabbits Shape Book" are good books to start!!

How do you create cross curriculum connections?
I try to look at what the students are learning in their classrooms, and whenever possible I reinforce that curriculum. For example, if I want to teach a color mixing lesson, and I know they are learning about fractions, I might do a lesson that involves dividing a circle into fractions, and then mixing different colors in each section. The Massachusetts Art Curriculum Frameworks are pretty flexible about subject content, so be creative and have fun with it :)
How do you "grade" your students Art projects?
I do not grade individual projects... But twice a year when report cards come out I give students a grade. My grades are based on effort, behavior and participation, not skill level. I do not grade children "against" each other but instead look for signs of individual breakthroughs.

What program did you use to design this website?
I took some website design courses in college, so i learned how to create websites from scratch and write the coding behind them. The bl
og portion of the site is done via Facebook. For people with little to no website experience I recommend www.weebly.com for building a website.
How did you create your Facebook blog? Is it the same as a personal Facebook profile?
What you want is a "Fan Page. That's what I have for "Mrs. Brown -Art Teacher". Fan pages can make status updates that will show up on people's newsfeeds, and also anyone can search for it and "like" your page. And this way, even if students "like" your page, they cannot see your personal profile, you cannot see theirs either. Click here to read about fan pages, and learn how to make one.... http://www.facebook.com/help/?page=904

How can I frame my child's school artwork?
The standard size school art paper is NOT the same as a standard size frame, which can make it expensive. If you child's artwork is 18x12 (standard size school art paper) you can use a large piece of 18X24 black paper to create a 3-inch background border.  Since 18x24 frames are readily available in most stores you should have no problem finding the perfect frame!  Hemenway parents can come to the ArtRoom to pickup a piece of 18x24 paper!!


Do you have any suggestions for pre-school (ages 4 and under) Art lessons?
I only teach kids ages 5 and up.... but I think many of my kindergarten lessons could be adapted for preschoolers. Especially the ones with shapes, lines and colors. It's a lot of trial and error when teaching, and experimenting with what works and what doesn't. Just remember that kids love creating images and pictures, and the best Art classes are the ones that encourage them to create and explore their creativity.  Many times parents or viewers of artwork will have unrealistic expectations of children's artwork. But really in the stages of artistic development kids ages 2-3 should really just be creating their first basic shapes and coming to the realization that their hand movements are responsible for creating the marks on the paper that they see. Ages 2-3 is all about exploration of materials and familiarizing kids with different art supplies. :) Instead of asking a child, "What is that?", try saying, "Tell me about your drawing..." It is a much more open ended question and does not force children to label their creation at a time when the process is just as important as the product.

Do you offer private Art lessons?
Not at this time. I am a public school teacher, so my Art classes are only open to residents of this town.  But please feel free to use any of the lessons you see on my website with your child at home! :)

Do you have any recommendations for projects I can do at home with my child?
Take a look at some of the kindergarten lessons on my site. Many of them involve simple materials and would be pretty easy to do at home. :-)

When I was growing up my mother had me do a self portrait every year and she saved each one of them.  It is so much fun to look back at those pictures and see how I progressed from age 2 to where I am now!  Self Portraits can be done using a mirror, or without for younger kids.  Let young children feel free to express themselves with color and try to not guide their drawings too much.  It is important for them to develop naturally, and they will enjoy looking at their self portrait someday when they are older!