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
I’m fortunate to have some duplicate copies of fine art prints — most were freebies from conferences and workshops. Originally, I divided a few prints into rectangular sections for grid drawings but after inheriting a felt board I started using them as a puzzle (click image at left to enlarge). When students had free time they loved working on these giant puzzles. And I loved finding a new purpose for existing materials that can do double duty and extend learning. Below is how to create each activity.
Group Grid Drawing Pieces
- Select a duplicate print to cut up into pieces. Remember you can use posters from inserts in publications like School Arts, your state art education publications, National Art Education Association publications or vendor freebies.
- Use a paper cutter to divide the art print into even sized pieces. Each art print will measure slightly differently due to its size. Cut up a large supply of blank paper the same size as the art print pieces for students to do their grid drawings on.
- Glue directions on the back of each art print piece and number them (see example). Having the directions on the back of each piece allows students to work independently when they finish regular assignments. Click here to print Art Puzzle Directions for students.
- Laminate all the art print pieces and cut them out. Remember cutting out laminate is a great job for student helpers in the art room (see odd art jobs).
- Store the art print and blank paper pieces in a gallon sized zip-lock plastic bag. On your storage bag record the artist, name of the artwork and the number of art print pieces. (Knowing the number of pieces makes clean-up and sorting easier.) Zip-lock bags are on the student supply lists at my school. I asked a home room teacher for an extra box to use in the art room. Check with the teachers in your building.
- Introduce the group grid drawing activity to your classes and store the pieces in a box, basket or container that they can easily access when they complete their regular work. Make sure to create a place to turn in completed grid drawings as well as store drawings still in progress.
Art Puzzle Pieces
- Take the newly created art print pieces for grid drawing and add Velcro or magnets to the back of each one. This is another great job for students (see odd art jobs). What you use depends on your preferences and what you have on hand.
- Velcro is great on felt boards and carpets. Kids can easily work on a puzzle in groups in a carpeted area. If you don’t have a carpet area you can take a piece of the Velcro’s hook side to a discount store and find an inexpensive throw rug. Local flooring companies might be willing to donate carpet samples or remnant pieces. There are also lots of inexpensive ways to construct a felt board. Here is a link to one creative solution I found. How to Make a Felt Board. Find the “U Loop” fabric for velcro board online here.
- Magnets are a perfect option for any classroom because almost everyone has a magnetic chalkboard or whiteboard surface that can be immediately utilized. If you have art on a cart or travel to another building you’re almost always guaranteed to have a magnetic surface at your disposal. Other options to consider are magnetic dry erase easels, magnetic paint or even cookie sheets depending on the art puzzle size.
- Store art puzzle pieces in a labeled zip-lock bag along with the blank paper for the group grid drawings and place in an area easily accessible to students.
Below is a short video of kindergartners using an art puzzle.
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There are 10 minutes remaining in art class and everyone is working hard on their latest art project except for your two chronic early finishers. It never fails that some students work faster then others. When students have extra unfocused time this leaves an opportunity for behavior problems to develop. What can you do with students who finish early?
Since you never know how many students will finish early or how much time will be left in the class you might consider utilizing an “Odd Art Jobs” chart.
What are odd art jobs?
They are all those little things that eat up a lot of time and energy, which could be focused on creating great lessons, grading or helping other students. The art room wouldn’t function if these tasks weren’t completed but really anyone could get them done. An odd job could be anything from sorting scrap boxes to labeling artwork. Another added benefit is that your students take ownership and pride over the art room, its equipment and school displays.
The type of odd art jobs that you let your students do is totally dependent on how your classroom is structured. You should also take into account the characteristics of your student population. One year you may have a amazingly independent group of fifth graders that are responsible enough to look at a check list, pick a job, and complete it without explanation. The next year it might work better to keep the list as a reference tool for yourself then have kids ask you what jobs are available to help. The key is to create a system that works for your art room. In my experience, a one-size-fits all approach never works for education. In my classroom the odd art jobs chart works best for small pockets of early finishers. It’s not a good solution for when an entire class completes a project early. Check out the list of odd art jobs I’ve had students do in my classroom located below.
Odd Art Jobs
- Wash paint containers with special sponges (Usually I let them use a fun scrubbing tool I pick up at the dollar store.)
- Sort scrap boxes (I have my paper scraps sorted by color so that it’s easy to access what I need for certain projects or for classroom teachers to borrow.)
- Count out paper I need for certain grade level projects (For example, if I need 65 sheets of three different kinds of paper for my next kindergarten project I will have a student help count it out for me. This way all I need to do is cut it to size and I have exactly what I need!)
- Sort marker bins and throw out dry markers (I have the student helpers take a scrap piece of paper and make test marks on it. If a marker is dry it goes to the trash. I might even have them save the marker caps for when students lose theirs during projects. This is a great job for any age level!)
- Make signs to label different areas of the art room. (I make a list of things I would like labels for as I work around the classroom. You could spend hours labeling your supplies and cabinets. Sometimes I will pre-print the signs and the student helpers will color, cut and attach them. Some examples of signs students have made for me are how to draw book categories, warm colors, in-box, watercolor paint brush sizes and newspaper.)
- Take down bulletin boards (All of my hallway displays are at student height so I don’t have to worry about step stools. The bulletin boards are also visible from the art room or the office for teacher monitoring. I usually send students out in teams of two or three but no more. And I make sure that they know exactly what to do.)
- Glue project paragraphs to the back of artwork (I attach a short paragraph describing the art process and what students learned to the back of each project for Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades. I try to give them as much hands on time as possible so we don’t always get time to glue the project paragraphs to the framed art. This is a great job for early finishers to help with.)
- Have older kids glue or staple frames to younger kids completed art projects (I usually write the student names on the projects ahead of time. Then all my student helpers need to do is glue or staple the artwork on to the pre-cut frames.)
- Sharpen pencils (To save time while my classes are drawing I like to have my pencil bucket ready for action. Instead of kids sharpening pencils while I’m talking they simply exchange their pencil for an already sharpened one in the pencil bucket. It cuts down on interruptions and lost work time. So periodically the bucket needs to be sorted and the pencils sharpened.)
- Make Tracers for other grade level projects (I will make two or three tracers and then have student helpers trace them onto heavy cardboard. Then, I put the cardboard in our parent volunteer bin for the adults to cut out. Takes a little forethought but saves me a lot of time and energy.)
- Sort classes artwork and stuff portfolios to send home (At our schools we use portfolios to transport art work home about three to four times a year. If I have a larger group of student helpers I will have them sort a particular classes art projects into plies for each kid. Then they simply slip each students art work into the pre-labeled portfolios to send home at a later date.)
- Set up supplies for the next art class. (I often have little time in between classes to set up new supplies. So I might switch from 3rd grade to 1st grade to 5th grade. Well that’s a large amount of supplies to have out at one time and I don’t have enough counter space. So I will have early helpers take out the materials for the next class and set it up on one counter. Then when the class is over they clean up their art supplies and put them totally away. Now I have a new counter free for that class to set up supplies for the next class following them.)
- Cleaning tasks (i.e., sweep the floor, erase the board, wipe tables, clean clay tools)
- Refill art product containers (I will have students that I know can do a good job refill glue bottles, switch watercolor refills or any other job of that type.)
- Hang bulletin-boards (I usually reserve this job for older students and it is a huge treat for them. Remember, all of my hallway displays are at student height and visible from the art room or the office for teacher monitoring. I usually send students out in teams of two or three but no more. And I make sure that they know exactly what to do. Sometimes I even hang the first three or four pictures so that the student helpers can see what I expect them to do.)
- Cut out items that have been laminated (I have parent helpers laminate papers for me then I have a cut laminate box located in my room where student helpers can grab some laminate and cut it out.)
- Empty the drying rack (This is fairly self explanatory but, student helpers will take art work off the drying rack and put it into the proper classes box.)
Tool Name: Friendly Loom 48″ by Harrisville Designs
Grade Level(s): 3rd and up
Category: Art Production
Product Review: The Friendly Loom is a great way to teach social cooperation and artistic collaboration in the classroom. It’s also a fantastic extension activity for students that finish early. The loom is well constructed and can stand up to daily classroom use. It’s large but, can easily be tucked behind a cabinet, in a storage room or placed on a counter. I’ve had up to six students at one time weaving on it.
My colleague, Julie, had the brilliant idea of installing small metal hooks on either side of the frame so that students could braid fabric or yarn to use in a weaving. The extra hooks also allow two additional students to work with the loom. All of my students are excited about weaving on it. I love this product in my classroom!
Bucket Rating out of 5:
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Show your students this great video before you start your next weaving project!
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