Reward Students For Their Hard Work: Have A Fun Friday!

Have you ever had a student complain about an art project? “This is hard,” they say. My standard response is a spoof on the movie, A League Of Their Own.

“Of course it’s hard,” I say. “If you want easy, go play baseball. This is art. It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”

While I believe that art is hard, I also believe it can be fun. Sometimes, after working hard, one needs a little fun to blow off the tension. Sometimes we all need a Fun Friday.

The idea behind Fun Friday is to work on an art project that still elicits thought and creativity, but not necessarily the intense concentration that some art projects require. Fun Friday projects work best when the students are still learning, but they don’t know it.

Fun Friday projects are best aligned with the previous week’s lessons. You’ll want to incorporate some of the concepts or knowledge gained, but present it in a way that allows for more play and less direct concentration.

Here are some examples.

  • After an intense week of observational drawing, including contour and blind contour line drawings of their hands, consider developing a lesson based on Guido Daniele’s hand paintings. Give the students tempera paint and let them paint their hands.



  • After a week of serious 1, 2 or even 3 point linear perspective, have teams of students work on creating forced perspective photography with digital cameras.



  • If you spent a week studying line variation, try turning out the lights and drawing lines using glow sticks.

Next time a student tells you art is hard, tell them they are correct. Then consider how you might reward that hard work with a Fun Friday.

What kinds of creative activities do you do with your students for fun? 

How important do you think days like Fun Fridays are for students? What about for teachers?




Ian Sands

This article was written by former AOE writer and choice-based art education expert, Ian Sands.


  • Teresa D. Euken

    I’ve found that sometimes, as teachers, we tend to overlook the obvious that a student might consider fun also. My students (K-4) love it when I announce that we are having a “free drawing” day. They can draw whatever they like, either through their own imagination or with the use of a drawing book. This “down time” activity is relaxing to them which makes it really enjoyable. As a past classroom teacher, I consider it the “pleasure reading” in art rather than the instructional level. LOL They also enjoy it when a sub has to come in. So does the substitute.

  • Just Cindy

    I have a “Catch Up Day” once a semester. On this day I provide French Fries or Tater Tots and catsup for the first few minutes of class. The rest of the time, students catch up on any projects they may have not quite finished. They enjoy realizing how much they have created, and are happy to complete things they just didn’t have time to do in class before this time. I provide the extra materials, and if they are finished with everything, they have time to experiment with their favorite media from that semester.

  • One art teacher I knew had ‘art parties’ with disney movies and candy for students. That wouldn’t fly anymore in most places, nor should it. I love how you are rewarding students with the best possible reward – Making ART, but in new and innovative ways.

  • kathleenMK

    Our kids are starved for outdoor experiences and i find many arty reason to take them in the garden like picking leaves for texture rubbings, pointing out perspective and plein air painting details. I read the little ones Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold and teach them to “fly” by laying still and staring at the clouds. Modeling clay free play is another favorite student (NOT DATA) driven learning experience.

  • MaryHennessy

    At my school we have a 4 day rotation schedule, which makes it possible to have a Free Fun Friday (now called Stations Friday, as parents did not like the other term) for the classes I have already seen once in a week. I provide a choice of projects and the students choose what they want to do. I typically have a painting project, learn to draw books to work from, a box of assorted items to create with (buttons, beads, yarn, fabric, foam, etc.), origami books and paper, and Lincoln Logs for the builders (take pictures of finished buildings and email home). It is actually a more intense work day for me, but I think a valuable exploration day for the students.

  • MYoder

    Whenever a student comments on a project being “hard,” I like to teach them the difference between something that is “difficult” and something that is “time consuming.” Usually they start to understand that good art requires time.

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