Monday, January 4, 2010

Tis the season....

The weeks just before Christmas break can be challenging for any classroom teacher. It certainly has proven to be a challenge for me in the art room. Typically, the kids are more energetic, more talkative, and more inclined not to take their work so seriously. Consequently, I usually choose activities that are simple, engaging, and don't ask too much of the kids.

This year I've been thinking a lot about TAB (Teaching Artistic Behavior). You can read more about TAB at the website. I had planned on trying some of the TAB concepts after the first of the year. So to end the 2009 year, I set up some centers to see how the students would interact with the different activities.

TAB is a student-centered, choice-based approach to teaching art. It's much more than that simple statement and likely I'll share more on TAB in subsequent post. Being honest, my main goal this final week of 2009 was survival while giving the students something meaningful and maybe even instructive, and most of all fun.

Here are a few of the centers I ran that final week of 2009. What is it about centers that kids love so much? I think I know: they get to choose! Even if the centers are teacher chosen activities, they seem to love the fact that they get to choose the center!

Kids love to play with clay. And some of their creations are simply wonderful and imaginative creations. Not so much this week. The boys flocked to the clay center and made an assortment of unrecognizable things, laughing and chatting all the while. No matter the creation, they loved showing me their work. I have another blog entry in mind where I'll share some of the more "on task" creations. But for this week, the clay center was mostly about hanging out with friends.

I don't think one can ever go wrong with a drawing center. And since I'm aware of how much kids love to make cards (especially this time of year) this center was an easy setup. It was simply titled: Make A Card; Draw A Picture. Lots of creative work took place and I was glad to see that at least this center was drawing a serious working crowd.

Stencil painting is a popular activity as well. I guess you could say it's on the order of some of the printing activities kids love as well. The students painted the backgrounds, and then painted on the stencil, adding that to their background. The results were great.

Some students chose just to use a brush rather than using the stencils. But whatever they chose, they were happily engaged in the activity and the time just flew!

Ed Emberly is one of my favorite author/artists. He has a number of drawing books for kids out and is also the idea man behind the video Squiggles, Dots, and Lines and the Ed Emberly Drawing Alphabet. I teach his ideas to my students during the first weeks of school. This Santa picture is based on his ideas.

A great way to end the year. Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Happy New Year too!


  1. I bought my nephew several Ed Emberly books for Christmas. Glad to hear that you approve of them!
    I appreciate the play dough recipe, too.

  2. I highly recommend Ed Emberley's books. In addition to recommending his books, I'd recommend Mona Brooke's "Drawing With Children" and any of the work by Mark Kistler.

  3. Good to know. I will pass along those author names to my family. My 7-year old nephew is totally into art these days. Along with the Ed Emberly books, I gave him an easel with large paper for Christmas. He loves it!