Tuesday, June 05, 2012

How to Paint with 30 1st Graders and Not Lose Your Mind

I dreaded this as a new art teacher.

My students would come to art and the first thing they would say was, "When are we going to paint?" As if all we're going to do all year is paint.   Geez.

So here are my tips to paint with lots* of little ones and win.

1. Have things ready when they come in.  On one table I had water bowls, water jug (no sink), dirty water pitcher, paint brushes, magazines or paint already squeezed out into bottle caps.  Usually on the floor in a bag already washed, I had aprons.

2.  Instruct them on how to do everything.  We would practice putting on our apron. Yes, it's going to be big on you.  Yes, it may not fit right. Yes, I already cut off the strings so you do not tie them in knots.  Paint brushes: are you going to paint your face, your shoes, your neighbor? what are you going to paint? 'my paper'.  Water bowl: the worst sound to hear in the classroom is 'ding ding ding' on the glass water bowl every time they want to get water off their paint brush and it makes a mess.  I tell them to touch the inside of their bowl and start painting.  Aprons: my kids had such a hard time with this one - they would wipe their paint brush on their apron like it was a napkin.  I would ask them if they would wipe their paint brush on their clothes.  They would say no, but I always found some of them doing it.  Grrr. 

3.  Let them paint and watch them like a hawk.  Especially those kids you normally have to watch anyway.  You might just need to stand by them, too.  They are going to have so much fun.  You might hear squeals or it might be dead quiet (surprise!) because they are concentrating so hard.  They also love it when you paint with them.

4.  Clean up. I let them paint to the bitter end so no one gets into trouble.  I usually go around to each table, empty water bowls, grab paint brushes and a helper comes behind me throws bottle caps or magazines away and/or puts waterbowls up.  Kids put their own painting on the drying rack starting at the bottom.  They keep their aprons on the whole time, and if we have any, they wipe their table with wipes or a paper towel.

5. Lining up.  Students will either fold up their aprons or put them in their chair, then line up throwing their trash away as they go out the door.

Whew! This helped me.  Hope this helped you!

*(I would get a class & a half which means 25+ kids every 45 minutes. PreK-5th grade)

Jellyfish by Rachel, 1st Grade

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