Parent communication is a very important job for art educators. It is our job to educate, inform and communicate with parents about our discipline. Too often, parent communication can be difficult when you are a specialist. The classroom teacher inevitably has more contact with parents. Why do we feel so disconnected with the families of our students? Maybe it’s because we see so many students in one week. Maybe because we don’t see our students every day or perhaps because the parents are not making the effort as much to be involved in the arts education of their students by reaching out to their art teachers. However you look at it, the amount of parent contact and communication can easily be zero to none if neither party is making the extra effort.
Why is it so important to foster parent / teacher relationships?
- It’s the parents who will advocate for you, support your program and the arts.
- Parents will help to make those home connections with the arts that support the teaching and learning going on in the art room.
- Over time, parents will begin to see all of the important learning that is going on in the lives of their students and they will start to enrich that learning at home.
- They will begin to see that an education without the arts would be very dull.
- They will begin to enjoy and remember why they enjoy the arts and help instill this in their kids.
So, how, you might ask, do we accomplish all of these wonderful great things when the reality of most of ours situations looks something like teaching at two or more schools with 500 or more students and contact time that seems to creep lower and lower each year?
The Itty Bitty Papers! One of the most important ways I communicate with parents is very simple, but yet very effective. I call them the “Itty Bitty Papers.” Put very simply, I glue a little piece of paper with a message to the back of the artwork that explains the concept or standard we are studying. It might also contain how the project was assessed or what specific standards were graded during this grading period. It could also talk about the artist we studied or how the concept connects to other disciplines. Anything to prevent parents for looking at the artwork and saying “This is pretty” and quickly dismissing it. I want them to realize – Something really happened while your student was making this! They learned something! They went through and artistic process! If I can open up this window for families even a little bit more, I feel I am doing my job.
Another great thing about putting messages on the back of artwork is it helps the students to remember what they learned. My elementary art teacher did something similar, and knowing I wanted to be an art teacher, I kept all of my elementary artwork. I still have most of these pieces and could remember what I learned and why it was important in my artistic development. Someday all of the little kiddos you teach will pull out a tub of artwork to display at their high school graduation. With your help, they just may have a nice little memory about elementary art because of your message.
To prepare the messages, I simply type out the message I want to convey and copy and paste over and over onto one sheet. Then, I slice them up on the paper cutter and put them in a little basket. Each basket goes on a grade level shelf ready to go on the back of artwork once the project is completed.
Maybe you have seen this idea, thought of this idea or are already doing something like this. They key here is consistency and to have them on as many projects as you can! I use glue sticks to attach the messages because it does not make the art wrinkle up like runny glue does.
If starting this task seems daunting to you, don’t worry. Start small. There are many different ways to accomplish putting message on the back of artwork.
- Have students glue the messages on the back of their own artwork when they finish the project in art class. This is the method I use the most, and my students are very well versed in doing this, although it does take some time.
- Have a volunteer glue messages on the back (works great for the younger grades)
- Make this a station for any students when the finish early-They can sit down with a pile or artwork and glue away.
- Have students glue them to the back of artwork on the day you pass back all of the artwork before you take it home (I call this portfolio day) It keeps hands busy and gets the entire job done in one shot.
In one simple step, that takes a matter of minutes, you can more effectively communicate with parents and make those important connections home! They next goal for me is to create mini-rubrics, self-assessments and reflections to go along with these messages. These glued to the back, I think, would provide an even richer experience for my art students!
I would love to hear more about ways you all communicate more effectively with parents in the art room!
The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso is a great image to teach students about mood. Since mood is also a term used in music, I use this opportunity to draw comparisons to help illustrate the art concepts.
I discovered some guitar tracks in Garageband useful to help the students make the connection between mood in art and music. I begin to play the guitar sounds and have the students give a thumbs up or thumbs down if they think the music mood matches the visual mood of the painting. The kids really get a kick out of this exercise and it helps reinforce the concepts.
Paul McCartney was also inspired by “The Old Guitarist”. Watch Two Fingers below:
Can’t see video above? Click here.
Posted on 05. Nov, 2010 by Hillary Andrlik + Theresa McGee in All Posts, Art Games, Books, Clean-up and Transition, Clssrm Mgmt, Cool+Creative, Music+Art, Neat Video, Off-task Behavior, Organization and Preparation, Reviews, Tech Stuff, Techniques, Tools and Miscellaneous
It’s those 5, 10, or 15 minutes when students finish assigned work early that can send a teacher into an internal panic. Instead of panic, be prepared. We have pulled some of our ready-to-use ideas together to help you fill those last few minutes with meaningful content.
Independent Activities for Early Finishers:
- Zentangles: In a sketchbook or on a piece of paper use pencils and pens to create continuous interlocking patterns. Here’s how others have used it: Woody’s Kaleidocycle NAEA 2008, Squido.com, Flicker Zentangles Group
- Odd art jobs
- Create a bulletin board to display ideas for early finishers.
- Draw a still-life: Pick an art tool from around the room and sketch it! You can also have a box or shelf of still-life objects for students to pick from (i.e., blocks, fake plants, toys, fake fruit, containers).
- Create an imaginary, symmetrical bug
- Color Sudoku
- Doodle Loop: Draw a line that loops over itself in several places. Now fill each new shape with a different pattern. See examples of this along with other ideas in the Doodle Lab
- Value Scale: Draw a long rectangle in your sketchbook and then divide it into 5 equal sections. Mark one end white and the opposite end black. Now try to color each space in from lightest to darkest. Challenge: Create another value scale, but use a colored pencil to fill it in such as red or blue.
- Art poster puzzle
- Utilize a Friendly Loom
- Create reading corner / area where individual students can pick a book to read on a variety of art topics.
- Create a free draw area with How To Draw books, paper and a variety of media for independent exploration.
- Check out laptops for a digital area (if you can anticipate early finishers)
- Fill out a paper or electronic assessment form
- Work in Sketchbooks:
- Sketchbooks in Schools: Using sketchbooks to inspire, motivate and engage (Amazing resource for using sketchbooks. Topics covered include, but are not limited to constructing sketchbooks.
- 149 Sketchbook Ideas
- Sketchbook Ideas
- Incredible Art Department: Sketchbook Ideas Elementary or Middle/High School or High School/Advanced Placement
- ArtTeacher’s Resource Sketchbook Assignments for High School
- Sketchbook Ideas compiled from The Getty
Large Group Activities:
- Online quiz games in MyStudiyo and PhotoPeach
- Start a book. Check out these read-aloud recommendations for elementary and for older students.
- Explore art in Google Maps. Find some ideas in this SchoolArts article.
- Play Art Toss Ball, Art Memo, Flexible Hexabits, Pictionary on the whitboard, Sculptorades, Zolotopia, or Teledraw.
- Art Vocab quiz. Give a choice is it 1, 2, or 3 (list possible answers on board with corresponding #). All hold up number of their answer (all participate)
- Music & art integration ready-to-use resources.
- Show a short video from our YouTube and Vimeo favorites
- Free Online Games by Artsology or explore these other online art games
- Magic Pocket Name
- Show Slideshare “Brilliant Examples of Photo Manipulation Art“
- Put up an art print and have students describe what they see in writing. Another option for younger students is to work in groups and generate a list of words they think describes the picture.
- Hold up artwork for a show and tell
- Critique artwork
- Quiz about art concepts to get to line up.
- Sculpture Freeze: Have your students use their body to create a human sculpture. Get specific by asking for a particular type of pose (symmetrical/asymmetrical, precarious/stable, seated/standing)
- Play Simon Says for line vocabulary. Students use their bodies to create a line (vertical, horizontal, spiral, diagonal, etc).
- Eye Spy. Ask students to find examples of art throughout the room or create your own Eye Spy.
- Swat Game. Write art terms on the board. Group the students in teams. Read a definition for an art term that is listed on the board. Armed with fly swatters, the first student to “swat” the correct word wins the round. Fly swatters are then handed to next student on team to continue play.
- Sing some art songs (Red, Yellow, Blues You Tube Video)
- Show an art teacher-created video from Art Class with Ms S or Fugleflicks
Board games have always been a wonderful way of teaching children patience, taking turns, counting, colors and so much more. They’re engaging and can help review or introduce new concepts without students even realizing it. But it can be difficult to find a pre-made game board that fits the art curriculum and stays in budget for an entire class.
Instead of searching for the perfect game, try creating your own, or better yet, use student-created game boards. Just hand students a blank game board and watch them use those higher-level thinking skills like Synthesis from Bloom’s Taxonomy!
How to Get Started
Game board templates can be quickly made on the computer with any word processing program like iWork’s Pages or Microsoft Word. Both programs have shape tools that can create a basic layout for blank game boards. Leave all the spaces empty for students to fill or you can partially pre-fill some spaces with directions (i.e., move forward 1 space, miss a turn, pull a card). Print the blank game boards on standard paper and then enlarge onto 12″ x 18″ paper using the bypass feed on a coping machine. (Every copy machine is different so you will have to experiment to find the right settings.) Download one of the blank game board templates below to get started or help inspire your own.
The best part of this activity is that a large amount of content can be easily incorporated. Review an art process, vocabulary, or the elements and principles of art. Just project the vocabulary or content with an overhead projector or document camera for students to view while they work. An even simpler technique is to utilize your own word wall, time line, color wheel or art posters already hanging in the art room. Take a look around and I’m sure you’ll find a lot of vocabulary and content already on display. I used this technique with my word wall to have students utilize art vocabulary in creating their games. Below you can download and print a blank version of the word wall game board or an image filled version that’s ready to print and play.
Tokens, Spinners & Timmers
Games come in all shapes and sizes and often with a lot of extra pieces. These extra pieces can really get students excited about creating and playing their games. I took a trip to the local teacher store and picked up some pieces that kids could used in their games. The community game pieces stay in the art room and are used over and over again. I store them in a Crayola classroom marker box that I re-purposed for easy access, storing and distribution. Make sure to show students the community game pieces before they start. This will help them generate ideas for how to structure their own board. Students will also create their own game rules. Below is a list of possible pieces you might want to have in your collection.
- Minute Sand Timers = Students use them to put time limits on answering questions.
- Dice = I picked up traditional dice and some fun double dice. They were an instant hit!
- Blank Dice = I colored each side of the blank die with a different color sharpie. This way students could roll for a color instead of a number. On another blank die a drew different shapes.
- Printable Dice = Create custom paper dice at Tools For Educators Dice Maker. Click here to download printable Art Dice created using Dice Maker.
- Pawns = These pieces come in all shapes and sizes and are used to represent each player as he or she move around the game board. You can purchase them at an online game board manufacturer, teacher store or from a garage sale. Really anything can be used such as buttons, glass gems that are flat on one side or constructed out of scrap paper. I had one student fold origami frogs for their game.
- Spinners = Click on these links to print spinner templates: Home School Hutt or Ready Made Game Boards. You can also purchase spinner arrows to make a classroom set of spinners. I have numerous community spinners that students can use and are themed on topics like types or art, types of line or the color wheel.
- Game Cards = Use index cards or cut scraps of paper into a uniform size to use as question or game cards. You can also go to Ready-Made Game Boards and scroll to the bottom of the screen to download templates for Avery business cards. The business cards are printable and can be folded and separated for use.