RENEW
May 2, 2012

Posted by | 25 Comments

Sink Management 101

This post could have been called:

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How to Survive an Art Room with Only 2 Working Sinks

OR

Look Out for the Creepy Face!!  (Sorry for the up close and personal under the nose view of me here- I swallow my pride) Hurry and press play to make it go away!!!

 

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Ok, but onto the serious stuff- I really only have one nice sink in my art room. Some of you lucky ones may have more. Some may have none. I want to share a few more tips in addition to the video to help the sink area run more smoothly.

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  • A wise art teacher once told me to never, ever let any dirty tool dry before you wash it. This is why I keep a soapy bath in my room at all times.
  • Don’t let kids wash out paint brushes (very often) because they never get them clean enough. I have trained a few kids to really get into the bristles and scrub, but I’ve found if I don’t do it myself, my brushes don’t last nearly as long.
  • Don’t let kids wash their hands. (Or rarely) This is a hard one, but is the key to my survival with 2 sinks and back to back classes. I put out damp towels on the tables for kids to wipe their little fingers on, and then use that same towel to wash off the table.
  • If you teach art on a cart, first of all, I am sorry. Second, have you thought of using inexpensive baby wipes to assist with clean up? Not a perfect solution, but it’s something.
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Share your sink management tricks in the comments section below. I’ve never met an art teacher who has clean up down to an absolute perfect science, we all have something new to learn! 

Oh- and just for fun, how many sinks do you have?

 Don’t make me jealous now…

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  • Theonlyingrid

    Hi!!

    Get yourself a paper towel dispenser KEY! (they are closely guarded in my district for some reason)
    Depending on the kind of dispenser- if you have folded towels, you can grab about a 4″ stack, dunk them or soak them in water, squeeze out the excess, and depending on kind, you can pass out strands of damp paper towels for kids to ‘wipe your hands and wipe your tables’.

    Gym floor tape is MAGICAL. Set boundaries, mark line-up areas at the door, etc. It is a magical guideline for kids. Vinyl electrical tape works just the same. Get some! I have a “purple box” at the sink – only 2 people ever allowed in at the same time.

    Do not agonize over brushes put bristle down to dry and ruined. My mom said some battles are worth fighting- this isn’t one. Give up, and get a large, shallow bin to put rinsed/clean brushes in.  I have a bin that came with a shelving/storage unit that works perfectly.

    Learned this one at a special ed conference- VISUAL ORGANIZERS! I have a 5 step clean up poster with pictures- 1. put your paper on the drying rack 2. take your bucket and brushes to the sink 3. put your paint away 4. wipe your hands and table 5. smocks away last.
    I’m considering consolidating 2&3 to clear your table. Even my older students find it helpful to refer to a simple clean up list. (It seems so simple to me, but whatever works, right?)

     I also ask kids if they have ever been to a restaurant, if they have ever seen a server wipe the table with dirty plates and dishes on it…. therefore: clear their table of paint, artboxes, artwork etc, becore wiping.
    I was baffled by the number of students who would wipe their table with stuff on it still, paint sets re-dirtying the table etc.

    Looking forward to more suggestions!
    Ingrid
     

  • Theonlyingrid

    Hi!!

    Get yourself a paper towel dispenser KEY! (they are closely guarded in my district for some reason)
    Depending on the kind of dispenser- if you have folded towels, you can grab about a 4″ stack, dunk them or soak them in water, squeeze out the excess, and depending on kind, you can pass out strands of damp paper towels for kids to ‘wipe your hands and wipe your tables’.

    Gym floor tape is MAGICAL. Set boundaries, mark line-up areas at the door, etc. It is a magical guideline for kids. Vinyl electrical tape works just the same. Get some! I have a “purple box” at the sink – only 2 people ever allowed in at the same time.

    Do not agonize over brushes put bristle down to dry and ruined. My mom said some battles are worth fighting- this isn’t one. Give up, and get a large, shallow bin to put rinsed/clean brushes in.  I have a bin that came with a shelving/storage unit that works perfectly.

    Learned this one at a special ed conference- VISUAL ORGANIZERS! I have a 5 step clean up poster with pictures- 1. put your paper on the drying rack 2. take your bucket and brushes to the sink 3. put your paint away 4. wipe your hands and table 5. smocks away last.
    I’m considering consolidating 2&3 to clear your table. Even my older students find it helpful to refer to a simple clean up list. (It seems so simple to me, but whatever works, right?)

     I also ask kids if they have ever been to a restaurant, if they have ever seen a server wipe the table with dirty plates and dishes on it…. therefore: clear their table of paint, artboxes, artwork etc, becore wiping.
    I was baffled by the number of students who would wipe their table with stuff on it still, paint sets re-dirtying the table etc.

    Looking forward to more suggestions!
    Ingrid
     

    • Cboggs73

      It’s so nice to know that I’m not the only control freak in the art room when it comes to washing brushes! I do have my students rinse their brushes in cups of water and wipe them in a paper towel at the end of class. I also warn the next group to “check your brushes” before starting to paint in case the previous student slacked off on the job. But at the end of the day I always wash the brushes in soapy water myself. Just recently discovered Murphy’s All Purpose Cleaner is great for this job. I do have two sinks in my classroom, but some of my classes are large (28-33 students) so the brush in a cup cleanup is more practical. Thanks to Ingrid for the tip about marking off boundaries with tape. I’ll have to try that.

    • Dawn

      I’m going to try the tape on the floor for lining up.  I’ll make a dotted line so each student has a mark to stand on.  They often get way too close together which causes problems.

  • Hmason

    I am a “soapy soaker”, too–When painting, I always have some sort of pan for palettes, etc. to soak in.  I am also a little control freakish about my brushes–preferring to wash them myself.  I have 2 sinks in my room and and a plumber’s friend handy for whenever contraband washes down the drain and I have “back up”!

  • Mbrown

    Zero sinks and counting!  I know, you’re all wanting to be in my position!  :P 
    The orange Home Depot bucket gets filled with warm water and a small squirt of liquid dishwashing soap in the morning for use in the art room.  Dirty paint water goes in the yellow bucket, or in the garden (all non-toxic so it’s ok). The “art watered” plants are bigger and fuller than the rest of the garden! :) Lots of table/baby wipes are used for cleanup and hands.  I teach proper brush cleaning to 1st and up by using the ‘back of the hand’ test to check.  The kids think it’s cool to check their brushes on the back of the hand and are more willing to do so than with a paper towel.  There is a Mr. Brush poster that the kids all refer to hanging by the paint cabinet. Using the question, “Are you taking care of Mr. Brush’s relatives today?” gets pretty quick results.  My detail oriented/cleaners will make sure the brushes are cared for.  Paint pallets are egg cartons that we reuse until the wells are too full, then toss.  Cheap styrofoam plates make great mixing pallets and are quickly tossed. Not so good for the environment, but easier than the alternative of massive KP duty at the end of the day.   Oddly enough, the kids that take the least amount of personal responsibility towards brushes are the 8th graders. Too many raging hormones….

    The clean up checklist is a great idea.  A permament sign for the room is on my list of things to do.
    See, don’t you feel oodles better?!  Oh, I teach k-8th, each class twice a week for an hour.

    • http://www.theartofed.com/ Jessica Balsley

      Your kids get art twice a week for an hour? I am so jealous!!! That makes up for the no sinks!!!

    • Jchapura

      Old magazines make great paint pallets.  Use the top page,  tear off into the trash when finished, all ready for the next student, and environmentaly friendly

      • http://www.theartofed.com/ Jessica Balsley

        LOVE this idea- I have done this myself!

      • Mbrown

        I do that trick with clay and old art catelogues.  I’ll have to try it with the paints too. Thanks for the tip!

  • Jchapura

    I am so blessed to have 3 sinks. One sink houses the soapy tub. I have a rubber ducky holding a brush in his beak and he sits on the sink to remind little ones which sink is for the brushes to bathe themselves in.  I also prefer to wash brushes myself….control freak! The other two sinks have two recepticles and each one has a dish tub with soapy water which allows four people at once to rinse, but not perfectly wash hands.  We can also move the dish tubs to help clean tables when needed.

  • laurasnyder2109

    I teach from a cart in classrooms from sinks, but it is just too much to maintain.  We “super spray” at the end of messy classes.  I will hand out paper towels, then walk around a spray the kids’ hands and paper towels with my spray bottle ( a super strong Rubbermaid one I purchased at Wal-mart).  Depending on how far the nozzle is turned, you’ll get a nice soft shower of water, or a blasting stream of water which the kids prefer.  They clean hands first, then tables, then make a “meatball” and place it in the corner of their desk.  This was a technique I came up with when I HAD a classroom without a sink.  Innovate, adapt and overcome…that’s the art teacher’s motto!  :)

  • Lauralee

    HI Jess, I have 2 sinks. I don’t let kids wash in my room either. I say “it’s art day, your hands are supposed to be colorful!” A few get freaked, so I keep baby wipes always close by. I have a question, a little off track but I saw them in another video of yours in your white baskets and was intrigued…what kind of scissors do you like best? I saw black ones. Thanks.
    LL

  • Ecjackson

    I admit my sinks are not as clean as they should be, but I do alot of painting.  My room has 8 tables and 4 sinks, so easy math, every table shares a sink with one other table.  I make my kids responsible for almost all the clean up (because I’m lazy and hate cleaning messes at the end of the day or during planning). 

    Each student at a table has a job and one of them is the “Sinkurity Officer” who is in charge of all things sink related.  I’m very clear that only the Sinkurity Officer is allowed at a sink unless under very special circumstances, and they typically stay students that I can consistently trust to do a good job and do it quickly.

     Each tables “Sink Station” has everything already out, including all the different types of brushes, tempera cakes and WC paints (the two paints we use almost exclusively) water buckets and slop buckets for sloppier stuff. We go over where to find everything at the beginning of the year so that they can go get whatever they need when it’s needed, and everything is labeled for their table so I know who is responsible for whatever isnt cleaned or returned properly.  Everything has an exact place,  I’m very picky about what goes where, or else it gets very messy very quickly, (who am I kidding, it’s messy anyways!).

     It took me a while to get the whole system in place and running smoothly but I figured if I have 4 sinks I might as well make use of them and that requires some orderly way of doing it.  At the beginning of the year I cover all the counter space with heavy tagboard and vinyl tape because splashes always happen and they always seem to get neglected.  I also hot glue some smaller cardboard shelves above the backsplash, and then I trace out the location of each of the materials on the tagboard and shelves so they know exactly where to put it back. 

    By this point in the year the sinks are extremely messy, but it just goes to show that they’re getting good use.  I always say to myself that if I ever become one of those teachers that doesnt do much painting because it’s too messy to cleanup, then it’s time to call it quits. 

    • Mreel

      I love the Sinkurity officer job! What are the other jobs ypur students have a each table?

  • Kruger_d

    I have 3 peninsula sinks and a double sink at the island. I was fortunate to be able to help design my room!  My best trick is that I no longer use the paper towel dispensers at the sinks.  I was sick of finding wet towels in the sink, on the floor and even hidden behind stuff so that students wouldn’t have to walk to the garbage.  Now I keep a basket of paper towel next to the garbage.  Problem solved!  I was recently reminded what a good idea this was when a sub filled the dispensers.

  • Karen

    I have 1 sink but no paper towels. I have a coffee can that I fill with brushes that I wash myself. I have a few kids in training to wash brushes. I also have a bucket of soapy water that I fill with sponges. I buy the cheapest I can find, sometimes a bag of “end cuts” at the dollar store or I cut the normal size down. kids wash their hands and then the table, if really dirty they get to trade for a clean one. 

  • Nellie_mae_01

    I have one sink in my room but unfortunately, if the hot gets turned on, it quickly blasts to SUPER HOT and dangerous for my kindergarteners. I fill a plastic tub (from wal-mart $2) with soapy water and two sponges. I have a ‘girls’ bucket and a ‘boys’ bucket for hand washing. For really messy things, I squirt the table with a squirt bottle and let them dry with a paper towel.  I used to have them get a soggy paper towel to wipe the tables, but the floor just got too slippery with dripping water and kids would slip and fall so now I tell them not to use wet towels to clean the tables. I never let students clean brushes. Since I have back to back classes, I usually have the brushes soaking in water buckets (tempera cake+watercolor) or I designate one brush to each color for regular tempera paint.

  • Diamondteacup

    If the project is super messy, I soak an entire roll of Bounty in water and a little soap. Each student gets one towel for hands and table.

    • http://www.theartofed.com/ Jessica Balsley

      It’s like homemade baby wipes!

  • Tchambers31

    I am an art teacher in PA, going into my 15th year and I started on the lovely cart and after 4 years of that, i got my own art room which I was SO excited about EXCEPT it has a teeny tiny sink, in fact one of my fellow art teachers called it a urinal.  I teach students from grades 1-8 and let me be blunt, my sink SUCKS!!  I have been pleading with my school district to replace it and to give me 2 sinks because the clean up time takes so long with a URINAL!!!    In September I go back in hopes to see 2 new sinks and every year I am disappointed.  My students have a 40 minute class and they probably lose at least 8-10 minutes of work time if we are painting or anything that requires hand cleaning.
    I am frustrated but there isn’t much more I can do but keep pleading and hoping.  :)

    • Rachel S.

      I have a similar situation. I am a 1st year teacher and I find my self struggling with clean-up. How do you manage with just one small sink? I do such messy projects that it is more practical to line up and wash hands in the bathroom than to rinse at the sink. But that takes so much time!!! Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

  • Karen

    I have to laugh reading this since I, too, am very controlling when it comes to my sinks. There are two in the room, but I don’t have time for 25+ kids to wash their hands. They’d also, as I’ve found, make a giant mess at the sinks. I have cut up rags in a bucket of soapy water. Each table shares a rag. They sometimes groan about messy hands, but I then give them the option of only using ‘dry materials.’ ;) I use an anti-bacterial soap to cut down on germs, especially in the cold season. I have rags that are a different color for cleaning tables.

  • Adry

    How u do w palettes w tempera?? My kids have a good system to pick everything but palettes are teacher responsibilities ???)

  • Lydia Herrmann Dommel

    The hand washing has been one of my biggest obstacles in my classroom…and I have 3 sinks. I am definitely going to try some washrags at the tables and I think it will work a lot better and will be way less chaotic.