4 New Ideas to Celebrate Youth Art Month

March is a busy time for art educators. We work hard to highlight our programs and share the amazing things our students have been doing in the art room all year long. Youth Art Month (YAM) is an important time to advocate for art education.

Many art teachers celebrate YAM with a big art show. This is a great way to show your community the strength of your program. Parents, teachers, students, community members, and school leaders love to see colorful art displays. But art displays do not allow the viewer to experience the power of art education for themselves. Is a beautiful display enough to communicate the importance of our discipline?

Here are some interactive ideas to celebrate YAM in your school and community.

youth art month bulletin board

1. Involve the entire school in a drawing challenge.

This is one of my favorite activities for YAM. Each time I have held a drawing challenge, I have been amazed at the results.

Provide your school community with a list of prompts to inspire their drawings. I try to break it up into several drawings a week. Collect and display the resulting work around the school. I like to do a raffle for art supplies at the end of the month to encourage participation.

This is a simple way to get the entire school community involved. Students and teachers both love to see the display. Download a copy to use with your students below!

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2. Host a teacher artmaking workshop.

Sometimes we forget other educators in our building might not understand what is being taught in the art room. These other teachers can be some of your greatest supporters. Students can learn a lot from collaborative lessons between the arts and other content areas. In order to create a strong connection with other colleagues, they need to understand what we do.

One of my favorite activities I’ve organized during YAM is a teacher art workshop. Invite colleagues to the art room after school and teach a lesson. Paint, clay, and printmaking are popular, even with adults! Through the process of learning something new in your classroom, teachers are sure to gain an appreciation for art education. And you are likely to gain new supporters.

3. Hold a “Family Art Night.”

Often parents are not up to speed when it comes to all the learning taking place in the art room. Reaching out to parents and communicating the role your program plays in the overall curriculum can be a challenge.

A “Family Art Night” is a great way to invite the entire school community to engage in artmaking. Invite families to learn about art together with their children. This can take many different forms, but the key here is parents and children engaging in the creative process together.

collaborative tile mural

4. Create a collaborative artwork.

Why not get the entire student body involved? When everyone contributes to an artwork, the results are always impressive. This can be a mural, film, sculpture, or even a sticky note display. Including the input of all people involved in the artwork is key. I have seen schools where many people have worked together to paint ceiling tiles for the art room and hallways.

Whatever form this takes, be sure to display the resulting work somewhere public. Allow the art itself to share the power of creative learning.

There are many different ways to celebrate YAM. This is a time to advocate for the importance of art in a well-rounded education. Whatever you choose to do to in your school and community, make sure that it communicates the value of art education for our students.

What do you do to celebrate YAM in your community?

What do you think is the most important part of YAM?

Anne-Marie Slinkman

Anne-Marie teaches elementary art in Virginia. She is a life-long learner who is passionate about providing relevant and meaningful art experiences for all students.

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  • Mr. Post

    First off let me say that “Yams” are the best part of Thanksgiving dinner – with apple pie coming in a very close second.

    As an art teacher it feels like every day is YAM day in my room. Being an art teacher is like hosting a party every day. The guests come, they party, they love your parties and then they sorta clean up after themselves. …but you still end up with a lot of cleaning to do when they leave and are exhausted when it’s all over.

  • Lucy Lu

    Here in Texas we have what’s called Big Art Day on the 1st Thursday of March. Teachers get a chance to do something different and creative with their kids. I’m teaming up with the music and gym teacher and we’re going to create 3 stations students will be able to rotate to throughout their block time. We’ll be working on a trading cards, small art on post its to put together as a mural, and then a feather design for another mural inspired by cassie stephen’s Montague blog post

    • Anne-Marie Slinkman

      That sounds like so much fun, Lucy! I love the collaboration between different disciplines.

    • Ruth Crittendon

      Lucy, please explain your small art on post its to make a mural for me.

  • Shannon Ashley

    Love these ideas. I already printed out the challenge to ask my Principal. I think I will try the family art night next year for YAM. #YAM2018

    • Anne-Marie Slinkman

      Thanks, Shannon! I hope you have a great YAM.

  • Kristine Blocker

    I love these ideas. I have had an all school mural for our Arts Festival in March for the past 3 years. It has been a self portrait in various forms. I love the sticky note idea “what do you love about art?” While I also like the idea of a parent night, I teach quarter classes to both 6th and 7th grade and would find it challenging to do this every quarter. I’m looking for other ways to involve parents in what we do each quarter.

    • Anne-Marie Slinkman

      I’m glad you found something useful here, Kristine! I love the idea of an all school mural as well.

    • Ruth Crittendon

      Kristine, how do you handle the all school mural and can you give examples for the self portrait ideas?

  • Heather L Huettner

    I teach K-6 in the midwest. I have developed a relationship with a local church that has a gallery. Each year, we hang about 125 pieces of work in their gallery and then host a reception for the families and the church community. Twice, we have used it as a service learning auction of student work to raise money for things like scholarships to Arts Camp or to help children in war torn areas get back in school. I also have a relationship with a local coffee shop that allows me to hang student work during Youth Art Month. And finally, though it is not in March, I host “Designs with Dad (or other significant male figure)” at my school. We typically have about 200 participants. This has been a wonderful way for kids and dads to make positive memories together associated with school, and has fostered much interest and support for our art program.