How to Set Up an Art Classroom
Here are some tips and tricks for setting up a creative space in your school or home classroom.
By: Andrea Mulder-Slater/Jantje Blokhuis-Mulder
Try this. Get yourself a piece of paper and a freshly sharpened pencil. Good, now wander over to your family room floor. Plunk down and write a letter. It doesn’t matter to whom you write your letter. Just write.
Are you experiencing difficulty? You say the pencil is poking holes right through the paper and into your carpet?
Try laying on your stomach… maybe that will help.
Well then, what you need is some creative space. Your children need that too.
Designate an area in your home or classroom – the creative corner. Oh, you don’t have to hang a sign or anything. Just make sure that there is a place for your kids (and you too), to sit down and express themselves – should the mood strike.
Make this area accessible and available every day if possible because you never know when that creative urge will sneak up and bite your kiddos. Just as you don’t always feel creative – neither do your kids.
Some things to keep in mind:
Consider the layout of the space. Is there enough of it? Is there a light source? How about a water source? A place to store supplies? An area for storing unfinished work?
OK, so you don’t live in a 5000 square foot home and your classroom is already packed with boots, coats, bookshelves and recycle bins. Don’t worry. This is what’s called working with what you’ve got.
Work surface is important.
In school, desks will do just fine. At home, how about the kitchen or dining room table. You can always protect your wood with a vinyl tablecloth or even an old shower curtain. The main concern is to have a space your kids can fit into – literally. If they have to reach two feet above their heads – they won’t have much control over what they are doing. At home, grab some telephone books for your kids to sit on if necessary. They won’t mind if it means they can see over the edge of the table.
Are the Art Supplies Accessible?
Once your child reaches 3 year of age, he should have access to a limited supply of art materials. Things like crayons, markers and paper should be stored somewhere at his level so he can gather his supplies, go to the creativity table and create.
A bottom drawer in the kitchen or the office are a good idea. Maybe even a small cardboard filing cabinet.
Baskets too make for great storage because you can see what’s inside.
For a great marker storage system, pour some plaster in a shoe box and place the markers in (caps down) while the plaster is still wet. Once the plaster sets, you will have a place to put the markers so they don’t dry out. It doesn’t matter if the colors on the lids match the colors on the markers. The important thing is that they will last 50% longer than before.
From a bookshelf for sculpture to a couple of pieces of large cardboard for a portfolio, find a place for works of art to sit and dry. In the classroom, make use of the bulletin boards, the hallways, the windows and even the ceilings. You can even string some clothesline and pin wet paintings up to dry.
Buckets can be your friends. Have a couple handy not only for art projects – like painting and paper mache, but also for hand washing at the end of a particularly messy chalk drawing experience.
Even though natural light is the best kind of light, a small table lamp or any kind of overhead lights will do. As long as your kids aren’t in the dark, well then you are all set.
It is incredibly important that every single student and child at home see their artwork on display at least a few times each school year – and even more at home. This creates inspiration and shows your kids just how important their expressions really are. Having your work on display does wonders for the self-esteem. Try it. You’ll see.
Along with displaying children’s artwork comes discussing children’s artwork. Its not enough to simply say, “That’s great” and hang the painting on the fridge. Ask about the work … get a conversation going. Your child will be thrilled to tell you all about her creations.
Have you seen our Art Classrooms section on Pinterest? http://pinterest.com/kinderart/art-classrooms/
The above is an excerpt from the book, “Born to Create” by Andrea Mulder-Slater and Jantje Blokhuis-Mulder (ISBN 0-9684848-0-8)