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I used to agonize over the first day of school: Who wants to hear a thousand rules and procedures from every teacher? Who wants to go through his or her classroom rules eight times? UGH! Getting kids to make art on the first day is so much more fun for everyone, and can be a much more memorable way to teach art studio habits and procedures. Here is my fool-proof lesson…
Step 1: Have students make mini-self-portraits
Cut pieces of paper to 4” x 6”. This will keep the lesson short and make it possible to display the portraits (see Step 5 below). Have students draw their self-portraits on the paper with no instructions. Think of it as a pre-test for the whole year. As the year goes on, you can have students make more of these. Finish up the year with a final portrait as kind of a post-test. That’s right! We just planned your last lesson too!
Step 2: Teach some color theory
Assign each table a different color for management purposes. Set out crayons or colored pencils in analogous color schemes that match the colors of the tables. By doing so, you can teach a little color theory and some great vocab words like analogous and monochromatic right away.
Step 3: Talk about art room choices
Kids invariably will groan a little about their limited color choices. This is the perfect time to talk to them about choices in the art room. Sometimes they get to make choices and other times you will make choices for them. The better they get at art skills, the more choices they can make on their own. Highly motivating!
Step 4: Practice art room procedures
Rather than just telling students about the rules during work time and clean up, you can have them actually practice these procedures right away. Having them model appropriate and productive behavior in an authentic task is much more effective.
Step 5: Create an awesome display
Once all of the portraits are complete (we usually use two to three class times, depending on the age of the students) display them as one giant ombre school portrait. It’s a great opportunity to discuss community and collaborative art practices!
I’ve found this lesson to be totally fool-proof and a ton of fun for everyone involved!
What are some other lessons you use to kick off the year in the art room?
Do you jump right into art making or spend time going over the rules first?