A Faster Way to Get Ready For Art Class

Recently something spectacular happened in one of my first grade art classes, which I consider to be one of the best things about being an educator, a spectacular “a ha” moment!  Here’s what happened.

The routine of getting paint shirts on in my room involves me helping students put their shirts on backwards and fastening them with a button. One class period, this routine was beginning to morph into something I imagine celebrities feel when being bombarded by the paparazzi.  As the crowds closed in around me, I began to instruct my kiddos to find a Button Buddy (another student who could button their paint shirt, and vice versa). Students took this a step further and started to add more and more people to their groups. This quickly evolved into the cutest train of kindness and helping I have ever seen!  I quickly announced, “If you need help – hop on the button train!” The rest of the kiddos fell into line immediately, even if their shirts were already buttoned. All the students wanted to be a part of this line!  We even added some sound effects as we finished up our button train.

button train

I quickly grabbed my iPad that I’d left on my demo table and was able to capture this awesome moment.  I am constantly trying to streamline my processes and routines to be time-efficient and make sense. Thanks to my wonderful kiddos, my future routine of student paint shirt acquisition is changed for the better, forever!

What have been your latest routine innovations?

How do you involve students in preparing for art class?




Alecia Eggers Kaczmarek

Alecia is an elementary art teacher in central Iowa who is passionate about teaching and reaching her students with an innovative and meaningful arts education.


  • Elizabeth

    That is a cute idea. I will share that with my classroom teachers as I don’t keep student art shirts here as I just don’t have room. The little ones come to me with them on, and I’m sure their classroom teachers will be happy for the help!

  • Wanda Holmgren

    I do this too, but I have sewen one piece of Velcro on the shirts in place of the buttons and it makes it even faster! It also makes it easy for them to take off their own shirts by just grabbing at the neckline and pulling to release the Velcro!

    • Alecia Eggers

      Oooo! That sounds wonderful!

  • D Hoffman

    That’s awesome :)

  • Betty

    This is so sweet. Love the cooperative attitude! I teach K-6 and my students are trained to walk around the perimeter of the room where I have already laid their T-shirt smocks out in a large circle. Everyone learns that the first child entering walks around the circle to the last smock, the last child gets the smock closest to the door. The smocks are spaced out so that no one accidentally hits anyone as they are they are suiting up for painting. I let them know that it is okay if it is inside out or backwards as long and their head comes out the head hole and their arms come out the armholes.

  • Ashley Fournier

    I love the Idea of art shirts. However, how do you deal with sanitizing shirts? Are you ever concerned with the spread of bed bugs, lice, etc?

    • Alecia Eggers

      Hi Ashley – you pose a great question! Any suggestions teachers?

    • Colleen Haley

      I have the same worry. The thought of 20 kids sharing the same shirt week after week gets me grossed out. I’m not a big germaphobe, but this is one thing that always gets me. When I started at one of the schools I’m currently at we had 2 large boxes filled with old t shirts that were likely donated by a local business (I think they changed their uniform and all the old ones came to us). At first I was excited to have them but after handing them out to some students I realized they were disgusting. Not only were they super stiff from all the paint and glue that was on them, most were stinky, moldy, and I even found bugs and mouse droppings on them. My classroom is in the basement of a very old building and we have gotten flooding in the basement many times. I was so grossed out I threw all of them away. I thought about asking for donations to get more but honestly the thought of spending time and money dragging 2 schools worth of shirts to the laundry mat every weekend, or at least every other weekend was not and is not something I am willing to do.
      This year I sent home a welcome letter to the parents with basic information but also included a message that if they were concerned about their child staining their shirts in Art that they could bring in a shirt to keep in their classrooms cubby and bring down to art class. I don’t ask for anything else from the parents and don’t expect the kids to have to bring anything else to class so I think I’m being pretty fair to put the responsibility on the parent or child.

      • Alecia Eggers

        I think that is a perfect solution Colleen!

  • Adry

    My aprons are in different colors, so they make a complete mess about it. So I don’t use them anymore, so moms get ready to wash their clothes …since they really don’t want to upset their moms …guess what not mess at all ;)