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There is a lot to be said for small paintings or drawings. They are less intimidating, they can be completed in a short class period, and storing them is a cinch. On the other hand, working big can turn a simple art making task into an academic challenge for your students. The trouble is, most kids naturally work small. How many times have you given out a 12″ x 18″ piece of paper, only to have a tiny drawing show up right in the center? What’s an art teacher to do?
Below are some tried and true tips to help you take your students’ work from miniature to mural-size.
Get creative with the way you use space.
Have students work in groups to cut down on the number of finished pieces.
Get out of the classroom! Make it a privilege to work in the hallway for your most independent students.
Move all of your desks and chairs out to the edges of the room to allow students to work on the floor.
Tweak your instruction to redirect students to epic proportions.
Require drawings to touch at least two, three, or four edges of the paper.
Use the grid transfer method.
Use a projector to blow up students’ original images. Have students trace the drawings onto larger papers.
Integrate math, by challenging students to use real proportions and ratio measurements.
Strategically plan out storage.
Hang a clothesline in your room or the hall to clip up wet work with clothespins instead of using your drying rack.
Use the clothesline to hang work back to back. Twice the storage on the same line!
Make the process part of the display presentation. Have students help hang unfinished works in the hall after each class. If the work is still wet, put a tape line about a foot from the wall to keep admirers from getting too close.
By thinking strategically about the obstacles and logistics behind creating large scale works, you can offer your students an expanded experience. It will painless for you and unforgettable for them.
How do you manage large projects or works of art in your classroom?
What are some of your best lessons that work well on a larger scale?
My name is Sarah Dougherty, and I teach elementary art in a large urban district in central Iowa. I love working with our diverse population of K-5 students to bring art to their homes, communities, and everyday lives.