Outside the Lines: Creating an Art Center in Your Classroom

boy painting

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adapted from ideas submitted by Sandra Jacoby

I have always loved watching children express themselves by creating their own pieces of art. Regardless of what grade level you teach, incorporating opportunities to create art can inspire your students to think outside the box–particularly if they’re allowed to color outside the lines.

Incorporating Art at Every Grade Level
If your curriculum and schedule do not allow for much time for whole-class art projects, set up an art center in your classroom. Fill the center with ideas that relate to a theme you’re currently studying, such as oceans, insects or community helpers in the younger grades, or deeper literary themes, like betrayal or adventure, in the upper grades. If you’re studying outer space, fill the center with books on constellations, black paper, star stickers, chalk, white crayons, and string. If you’re doing a unit on Gary Paulsen’s novels, outfit the center with twigs, bark, leaves, uncooked grits (which make excellent sand!) and glue; then, tell your students to create a scene that captures adventure or survival.

You’ll be amazed at what your students create! Students naturally enjoy showcasing their understanding of a topic through their creativity, and artwork provides an authentic means of assessment for you as the teacher.

Thinking Beyond Coloring Sheets
I once visited a kindergarten classroom where the teacher required that the students color two coloring pages relating to curriculum themes before being allowed to create an original work of art in the classroom’s art center. While I applaud the teacher for having an art center, the coloring requirement kept many students from ever being allowed to truly enjoy the art center. Student-created art provides a much better glimpse into students’ understanding and mastery of a theme than does a generic coloring sheet. Loosen the reigns a bit and see what your students create on their own.

Switching up Supplies
If the art center seems to get dull after awhile, and student projects start lacking inspiration,  change up the supplies. Add watercolors or hole-punchers. Take out the markers but leave the crayons. Take out regular scissors and add crazy ones. Add pipe cleaners but take out glue.

You will be amazed at the things children can create when they are allowed to color outside of the lines.

Sandra Jacoby lives in Stonewall, Texas, and is a recent graduate of Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education.

How do you incorporate art into your classroom? Post a comment on this entry to share your ideas; the most creative or useful idea will be selected by our editor, and its contributor will win a School Box gift card!

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3 Comments

Filed under Teaching

3 responses to “Outside the Lines: Creating an Art Center in Your Classroom

  1. susan

    This sounds like something I can Use in my home day care. I could use a gift card to the schoolbox as that is my favorite educational store.

  2. Jana Sanders

    Excellent article!

  3. Carla

    I think this is a wonderful idea. It is so sad that art and creativity are being pushed out of the classroom. Art and creativity should be used as fun avenue to learning. Not to mention using art in our lessons will enhance our students’ learning. We should try to find ways of incorporating art into our lessons at every opportunity.