The Ultimate List of Secondary Art Room Bell Ringers

If you teach at the secondary level, you know the problems “passing time” can cause for classroom management. Sure, it’s great for a quick bathroom trip or coffee refill, but issues can arise as students trickle in over the course of five or ten minutes. Classroom management can become off kilter before class officially begins.

bellringer question

One way to ensure a smooth start to class is through the use of bell ringers.

Bell ringers are short activities used at the beginning of class to get students thinking critically and creatively. They engage early arrivers from the moment they step through the door and help transition pokey students quickly.

Bell ringers can be designed and administered in many ways. For example, you could try starting class with a question or having students work on an ongoing side project as soon as they arrive. However you approach them, bell ringers are key to getting students involved and engaged right off the bat.

As you consider ways to incorporate bell ringers into your secondary art room, take a look at the extensive list of ideas below.

We’ve put together five thematic lists for you to tweak and adapt to fit your needs.

These include reflection questions, brainstorming prompts, philosophical discussion starters, art history trivia, and technique and vocabulary questions. Download them all below!

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You could use a different theme for each day of the week or simply pick and choose what works best for your students according to their ages and abilities.

If the art history, technique, or vocabulary questions are too tricky, let students use classroom tablets or their own devices to research the answers. They’ll be more likely to remember the information if they look it up themselves!

As you use these questions, think about crafting more of your own. You might want to keep a running list in your planner as you introduce new techniques, methods, or artistic styles.

What have you found to be the best way to start a secondary art class off on the right foot? 

How do you incorporate bell ringers in your art room?

Tracy Hare

Tracy is a middle school art teacher from central MN who strives to create rich, meaningful content and resources through her Content Specialist role at AOE.

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  • Madeline Wright

    Thank you so much! I use Bell Ringers everyday in my Middle School class. I cannot wait to add these to my routine! I love AOE!

    • Faye Kemnitz

      What a great way to get the class started on a positive note! Thank you, Tracy! I’m excited to implement this in my teaching.

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  • Melissa Gilbertsen

    I use this idea with a “DO NOW!” for the beginning of every class. They have sketchbooks that I provided (about to killed me when dithering over the cost x 205 students and my-not-stellar budget) but it has been a fabulous success. Now it starts off every class in thinking and arting from the get go and solved the majority of my behavior issues. The lists you provided are supremely awesome and exactly what I was looking to find to amp up my middle school setting. Thanks so much!!

  • Peg Medcraft

    I begin every art class period with a 5 minute “Daily Draw” in their sketchbooks. Not only is it a great way for them to “get their head in the game,” but it is developing a habit for students to draw everyday!