What is the perfect amount of time for an art class?

As the school year comes to an end, I always like to think back and reflect on my lessons. What worked well? What will I tweak for next year? What do I need to totally scratch? A lot of the lessons we do depend on how much time we have with the students. Some teachers see their classes daily, some every other day and some once per week. I’m sure there are some of you out there that see your students even less than that.

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So, I’m curious, what do you think is the ideal amount of time for an art class? From my elementary perspective, my current set up is just about perfect. I see each of my classes once every four days for 50 minutes. After working in schools with art times ranging from 40 to 60 minutes per class, 50 minutes seems ideal. With five to ten minutes on either end for demonstration and clean up, thirty to forty minutes of work time seems to work really well for my age group.

So tell us, what is your current set-up?

Do you wish it were different?

Does it limit or challenge you in any ways? We’d love to hear.

Amanda Heyn

Amanda is the Senior Editor at AOE. She has a background in teaching elementary art and enjoys working to bring the best ideas from the world of art ed to the magazine each day. 


  • Katie

    We have 60 minutes art classes at the elementary school I work at. This seemed great at first, but it can be long for the younger students especially. In previous years I have shortened the class by adding in an art game as a reward system for great clean ups. 10 minutes before their teachers come to pick them up we clean up. Any table that is finished on time gets to play pictionary or some other variety of art game. They LOVE pictionary! It gives students time to finish who need extra time and it allows for students to wash things up for me at the sink if necessary. Next year I want to shorten that a bit by adding a drawing do now at the beginning for five minutes, and then only have five or so minutes at the end of class for a game.


    • Yes- 60 minutes for the really young kids is a lot. Breaking the time down into different activities, (drawing, lesson, game, etc…) does really help!

    • Beth Young

      I do those things, too, for my hour long classes. I’m super slow paced, so an hour works well for me.

  • AmyH

    We have 30 minutes, once a week. It ‘s not enough.

    • How do you make it work, Amy? Do you end up doing a lot of the clean-up yourself at the end of the day?

  • Eileen

    We have 30 minutes 1x a week. I teach at an early childhood public school and have all K’s and 1st graders. It is an ongoing challenge fitting everything in…lesson, set up, clean up, etc. I run into my 5 minutes in between classes and then have no time in between. I would like to see a poll done to see the average time. I would LOVE a 45 minute class!

    • Yikes! 30 minutes would be TOUGH.

      • Beth Young

        I’m interested in knowing how you handle the 30 minute time slot. Last year classes at my other school were reduced to 30.

  • Elizabeth

    Ours are 40 min. once a week, with 5 min. in between. It is not a bad amount of time. But, my Mon. and Fri. kids never get all their classes in due to holidays, and we are not on a rotating schedule. The best situation I ever had was in a district where we had k and 1 for 30 min. twice a week, and 2-4 45 min. twice a week. That was great! Older kids need a few minutes to calm down and get to work. Little ones need less time as they just get antsy-they are sitting way too much these days.

  • Kiara

    i teach pk-6th…all 60 minutes except for preK. K I only see for 1 semester. Prek I only see 30 minutes, which is perfect for them. In my ideal world, this would be my ideal schedule:
    Pre-K: 30 minutes
    K: 40 Minutes (The entire year)
    1st-5th: 50 Minutes
    6th: 60 Minutes, only 1 semester, they choose the subject (Art 1, Painting, Clay, etc. Middle school style!) It would help with class size, and help the students who already know what medium the excel at.

    • I agree with you, Kiara! 40 minutes would be perfect for kindergarten.

  • Jill

    I teach art at alternative high school. We have marking periods that run 9-10 weeks each. My first two classes are 90 minutes long. I love this because it allows for more studio time. Which students I teach seem to enjoy because it allows them quality time on their projects.

    This year I will also be teaching 3 rotation classes at middle school. While this makes my schedule full time (finally after three years as 3/4 time), I’m stressing a tad trying to figure out the shorter time as those classes are only 48 minutes each. Plus I still need to clean the room to figure out what I actually have to work with, before I can plan lessons. Is 48 minutes normal for middle school?

    • When I student taught in the middle school setting, 48 minutes was just about what I had to work with. I found it worked OK though, because once kids were into a project, they could just come in and get started right away, leaving a good chunk of time for work time.

  • Lisa

    I teach 3rd,4th, and 5th. We have a 6 day cycle. I see each class a total of 90 minutes each 6 days. One 30 minute class, and one 60 minute class. I like the 6 day cycle because then each class gets the same amount of art all year long, aside from snow days and field trips. The only bad this is early out days all tend to be on the same cycle days and then 30 minutes gets reduced to 20 – which is just not enough time to do anything!

  • katgirldu

    I teach kindergarten, at a Montessori school. I have 60 minutes, which works great. Leaves time for presentation, work time, clean up….I have a sketchbook for each child (first project is to make a cover for this) for early finishers…works great. But, I have small class sizes, and Montessori kids, by kindergarten, have long attention spans.

    • Beth Young

      I taught kindergarten at a Montessori school years ago. I loved it! I especially liked the way that the individual needs of the children were addressed.

  • Beth Young

    I have an hour at one of my schools, and it’s great! The children have plenty of time to listen to instruction, relax and complete their projects, and clean up well.

    • What age level do you teach, Beth?

      • Beth Young

        I teach elementary children grades pre-k-5th grade.

  • jeffreywp

    I was on a cart for K-3 and found I was perpetually behind. I had about 40 minutes and saw each class 1x/wk. By the time I handed out things, delivered directions and then collected things, I was usually left with 20-25 minutes to work. This was my first year at the elementary level. I have 7 years experience at the high school (with some middle school) level. I definitely need to regroup this Summer and rethink the whole cart thing. It caused me a lot of heartache. Fortunately, I have the most supportive wifey in the World!

  • Toby

    I teach K-5 in two schools and see the kids every eight days…for 60 mins. (Every ten days if you count the weekend too.) The hour is necessary as we have to review before continuing or make sure the lesson is only an hour. We have 5 mins between classes to switch materials and be ready for the new group. Problem with the 5 mins. Between is some classroom teachers arrive late with the next class early and waiting in the hall. I do not take the next class early and most know I need the set up time. Because the schedule is so tight I was told I can not have additional time between the class periods.

  • J Cofield

    I teach K-5. At my school we have about 45mins in each class and I see the each class once a week. I have the same problem with transitions between classes. I usually have to end earlier in order to have enough time for clean up. We also have a transition time where there is not a any time between one class and the other. One class leaves at 10:55 and the other class starts at 10:55. Some of the teachers come like almost 10mins late sometimes so I in real time I have about 25-30 min for actual class time and that’s for everything, instruction, work time and clean up.

    • I can’t believe some teachers come 10 minutes late! That’s awful!

  • Charlotte Le Baron Peretz

    Next year, myself and the other art teacher will see the same students: k-7 for 30 minutes everyday for 6 weeks each. They all eventually will get 12 weeks. This is a huge change and I would like ideas on what lessons I can teach well by presenting in chunks. What is reasonable? Will I be able to allow kids to do actual art making each day? Clean up and furniture that is age appropriate is a concern as well as a million other things about this schedule…any ideas?

    • Hi Charlotte,

      I think you can expect that students will do art making most days. However, when you’re introducing new projects, especially to older grade levels, you may have some 30-minute time periods that are just introductory days. You could also think about introducing projects and having a “starter” activity to go with them. For example, introducing a coil pot project and then getting out modeling clay to practice for the last ten minutes. Or, introducing a drawing project and then getting out sketchbooks to brainstorm for the last few minutes. Best of luck!

  • Kayle

    This is my first year teaching and I teach k-8th grade. For k-6th, I get 30 mins a week with each class and I do art in a cart and go into each classroom. For 7th and 8th, I have 50 mins each day with the same kids (2 classes a day) in a “connections” format. Any and all advice would be amazing. I tried to paint with my students last week and it was pretty much a disaster with only 30 minutes but I feel like I am cheating them if they don’t get to paint all year. It is the first year this school system has had art. Again, any advice will be welcomed and I cans see I am about 2 years behind the last post. :)