Proven Learning Centers for the Art Room


Center activities are a great way for students to work cooperatively, experiment with new materials, and think creatively.  I start by organizing groups consisting of 4-5 students.  At this time it is also important to explain the center rules including how each station works and a one minute clean-up before rotation. One of the easiest ways to keep track of time is by using a count-down clock projected on the screen for everyone to see. Centers have been a life-saver for situations when a class is finished with a project way ahead of the rest of the grade level (due to assemblies, no school, etc.) or as a back-up sub plan.

If you’re looking to develop your own art center activities, or looking for new ideas, the following may inspire you:

Pattern Play

Pictionary. This classic game can be played in only a few minutes. Create your own words for kids to draw or use the ones provided in Squint.
Sculptorades. Cranium created this twist on Pictionary where instead of drawing you sculpt objects out of Cranium clay. You can easily create your own version with play-dough, a sand timer, and playing cards you create. Just grab a digital camera and take pictures of different objects (i.e., celery, dog, car, hand, butterfly). You can even sneak in cards that make connections to what students are studying in the classroom. Print images on a heavy weight paper and laminate for durability. Taylor the game to students even more by creating numerous sets of playing cards for different ability levels and grades.
Pattern Play. Kids love this puzzle game! I use it with students as young as Kindergarten. Or build your own wood pattern puzzle by following directions found on Mer Mag.
Toobers and Zots. Thanks to a guest post by Jan Johnson (and eBay), these sculpture-making objects are a hit in my room.
In the Garden. These soft foam puzzle pieces have endless tessellation possibilities. Busy Beetles and Batty Lizards is another option shared with us by Susan Tiemstra. For older students who like more of a challenge try Squzzle Puzzles.
Art Print Puzzle. Read this post on how to create your own for free.
“How to draw” cartooning books. Just set these out with some copy paper. Among my students’ favorites are 101 Funny People and Spongebob Squarepants. I also encourage the students to create their own funny pictures by combining two objects.



Connectagons. This product is so simple, yet creates fantastic sculptural forms.
Squizzles. I inherited a set of these square puzzles when I first started teaching. Read a product review here.
Modeling Clay. Set out tooth picks, plastic knives, forks and let the creativity happen.
Color Sudoku.
Based on the original, I developed this color logic game for my students. Download this color sudoku game for free.

Computer Activities

Laptops. If you have access to a few laptops and the Internet, let your students explore online art games. I use this page set up for students to choose their online activity (resource page created by Hillary Andrlik).
Picasso Carnival. This idea was developed by Tricia Fuglestad consisting of centers focused around Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory.

Hillary Andrlik + Theresa McGee

The founders and primary authors of this blog are Hillary Andrlik and Theresa McGee, who both teach elementary art in the Chicagoland area. Hillary has been teaching art since 2002, received her art education degree from Illinois State University and masters from National Louis University. Theresa has been teaching since 1997 and received her bachelors degree from Northern Illinois University and masters from Benedictine University. In 2008, Theresa became a National Board Certified Teacher. Both Hillary and Theresa have earned the honor of being Illinois Elementary Art Educator of the Year. Together, Hillary and Theresa have presented at Illinois Art Education Association Conference on topics ranging from classroom management to technology and each have presented on numerous other occasions for other organizations.

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