Monday, September 1, 2014

7 Tips for teaching art to kids

So you want to sling paint with kids?
Thinking of starting your own class?
Or possibly you just have a houseful of kids bouncing off the walls and you want to channel that energy!
Here are some bits of wisdom from years in an elementary classroom and teaching art.

1. Do your homework. This means time on Pinterest, blogs, reading books, at the library or book store....ect. 
Here are some good sites: was my go to site when I taught 2nd grade before the Pinterest revolution came about lol

Here are my go to blogs:
Art Lab
Collage Lab
Doodles Unleashed
Art Projects from Around the World

2. ALWAYS try to project out before. This is more for teachers. Not only is it good for the students to see a finished product but you will know the steps it took to make it. I've tried out several paintings that I realized would be better suited for a younger group or once I have an advanced class.

If you are just doing art at home with your own crew it may be an adventure to try out an art project together. Kids will benefit so much from seeing that creating is a priority and making memories doesn't hurt either!

3. Creativity blooms when you are around others who inspire you. My soul sista and I shoot each other texts all the time of whatever we are working on and get together to work on our various projects. It's also good to have people that will give you an honest "professional opinion". Especially if you are like me and can't choose between Warhol, Haring Thiebaud or Johns for the Pop art lesson. Decisions, decisions.... 

They also can double as a photographer when their kids are in your class. Here I am, 4 months pregnant demonstrating the fine art of spiderweb drawing. 

4. You don't have to have expensive materials. Kids just love to create. Period.  My first several years of teaching I had a paltry supply of half empty water color trays, soft pastels, tempera paint and whatever the kids happen to have in their desks that we created masterpieces with.

Here is a Monet inspired lily pads a 2nd grader did only using markers and spraying it with spray bottle of water.
Anyone can do that.

5. Start out small. If you are taking a bold step and doing your own class, wanting to incorporate it more in your classroom or just have the desire for it to be part of your family culture, you don't have to go all out at first. By starting small you figure out what works and what needs improvement. That's why my first summer I only taught on Tuesdays to allow time to reflect between classes.

If you are a teacher find an art project that goes along with something you are doing in science. For example, do a collage of the water cycle and chunk that boring worksheet in the trash!

If you want to do art with the family dedicate one day a month to art. Visit a museum, find an artist you like, get some books from the library and be inspired together! Here is my son admiring his Aunt Afryka's personal favorite by Maxfield Parrish at Crystal Bridges Museum. 

Norman Rockwell is always a hit because his work can vary from hilarious to extremely deep. Could make for some interesting discussions. Here is a drawing that one of my 6th grade students did when he found his favorite Rockwell work.

6. Realize that art is a process and products don't have to be perfect. Kids know this more than adults because we have been trained to strive for perfection. As long as they had fun and learned a thing or two, then I call that a success.

7. Have fun! When my 2nd graders would be cleaning up after a collage project (because those tended to be the messiest) they'd say "Wow! We made a mess!" I would always respond that messes were evidence of fun :)