Thursday, May 8, 2014

Art Room Hacks

There is just something about spring that inspires me. Every spring I get a rush of new ideas for my classes-just in time for summer break! I try to re organize my classroom and document it before leaving so I don't lose these thoughts. After ten years of teaching, I am finally to the point that I have a few of my favorite elementary art room hacks; simple ideas to ease life in the elementary art classroom. 

1. Filing Cabinets as a Magnetic Surface & Supply Storage
I saw a great pin on Pinterest that showed two full sized filing cabinets used back to back to provide a magnetic teaching surface. Genius! I already had three two drawer shelves in my classroom that I was using side by side as a table and lesson plan storage. I moved these to the other side of the room, where I tend to intro my lessons and put them end to end. I will be using the side as a magnetic surface to teach the kids about the countries we are studying, and the top is a perfect counter for supplies. To top it all off, I was only using a small portion of each drawer, so I realized that I can put the class' supplies in a drawer for each grade level. The grey cabinet under the overhang of the counter has the kindergarten supplies in the top draw and first grade in the bottom drawer. The blue cabinets hold drawers for 2-5's supplies. Most of my classes are back to back, and now everything is close and organized so I don't have to have it all out for classes that aren't using the supplies! It has been a huge time saver already. Of course, I do have to beautify the top and label them still!

2. A Screen to Dry Clay
One of the teachers I replaced had two screens in her clay cabinet. I love this, as it allows for clay to dry quicker and more evenly. They do get stretched out, and end up needing more support, but still work great. To save time, they work even better when put on a rolling cart of some sort to more easily be moved to the kiln. Oh, and we got new windows last summer! All the screens from our old windows came to work with me.

3. In Boxes
This one was actually my own idea (gasp!) I was sick of the "where do I put this" avalanche of questions after every project. Each grade level has a box and knows that if it's not wet, that's where completed projects go. Now I just deal with the avalanche when doing sculpture.

4. Leave the Paint Out
I teach 6 classes almost every day. Let's face it, usually 3-4 of them are painting SOMETHING. Why put the paint in a cabinet or on a shelf when I'm going to use it virtually every day? I have a dedicated countertop for paint. As an added bonus, it makes it possible for me to order big containers with pumps, which is so much faster to pour! An added tip, have a needle tool handy for clogged pumps, they are skinny enough to get all the way into the pump and clear out all the dried paint.

5. Two words: Photo Labels
Even the kindergartners know where to put things when they can match their item to a picture!

6. Use a toy Organizer for Yarn
Ok, another one of my own ideas, lol. I bought this toy organizer at a garage sale a few years ago, but my kids just dumped all the toys out every time I sorted them. I got sick of the mess and brought the organizer to school. All my yarns are sorted in containers based on color. It's usually a bit cleaner than this, but my second graders are weaving.