Sunday, February 19, 2017

In the Art Room: Art Buddies

Once a month, we have half days in my school district. You'd think a half day would be an easy day but it's actually more like a normal day condensed into half the amount of time. Read: it's crazy. On these days, I have four classes, four different grade levels for 30 minutes each back to back before we dismiss. Our half days are almost always on Fridays and the kindergarten classes I would normally see on that day miss art. If you do the math (which, gross, why would you) that means I end up missing my kindergarten classes seven times over the course of a school year. Yikes!

This time around, I decided to do something about it: invite my kindergarten classes in during the time scheduled for my third and fourth grade classes. See if you can follow me on this journey: when I see my third and fourth graders on their normal art day, the classes are doubled up (meaning I see two third/fourth grade classes at a time. This was the only way I was able to get an hour with these students). However, on half days, I only see one of those third/fourth grade classes. Which means that if we did our normal art lesson, when I saw the kids next, half of them would be ahead. So usually on those days, we do something completely different. That means more work and planning for me.

When I got the schedule for our half day, I approached the kindergarten teachers and asked if they'd be willing to give up some of their time to allow their students to have art. I let them know that they'd have Big Buddies to help them in art today. I let the third and fourth grade teachers know that their students would be giving up their art time to act as role models to the kindergarten kiddos. Here's a glimpse of how our very busy 30 minutes went!
I have to say, the Big Buddies ROCKED it and the Little Buddies were THRILLED to have them. I saw my older students step up, speak kindly, be gentle and guide their new friends. I saw my younger students tell them what they knew, sit up tall and follow directions to make their new friends proud. It was a big ego boost for both sides and a lot of fun to watch. 
How did this go down? I met both grade levels at the entrance of my room. I told the younger students to go in and take a seat on the floor in the first and second row. We were seated under the large television screen you can see in the video. I asked the older students to sit behind so that the younger kids could see. I explained to both parties that they'd have to play close attention to be a good student and a good teacher. I explained that were were creating paintings that would later act as a sky in a collage landscape. We learned about TEXTURE and TINTS with texture being our Word of the Day (whenever I say the WotD, the kids know to give me a WHOOP-WHOOP!). I let the younger friends know that TEXTURE is one of the elements of art. At that point, I had all of the kindergarten kids turn around and face the big kids as they did this little hand-jive to explain what the Elements of Art are...
I told the kids that they were to use white paint first and put big blobs of white onto their paper. I said to "scoop, plop, flip the brush over" at which point the kids repeated with me "scoop, plop, flip". I didn't want cups of water on the tables with this many kids and because it would put holes in the construction paper. So the kids were instructed to clean their brush either on their paper or on their messy mats. From there, they were to add "baby blobs of blue". Once complete, they were to use the texture tool of their choice to blend the colors together creating a TEXTURE TINTS of blue.
As a reminder of the directions for EVERYONE, we did a call and favorite thing in the world. 
We got through all the directions, painted and even did a bit of book reading all in 30 minutes flat. With the help of the older students, I was able to have a much more relaxing teaching experience...and drink my coffee! 
I will admit, we were loud and proud! But with 35-ish big and littles in the room, I was willing to go with the flow. All kids were on task, all kids were having fun and all kids completed their painting. We did neglect to wash hands as I just couldn't see having that many friends at the sinks. Thankfully, I work with classroom teachers that totally understand and were fine with taking care of hand washing. 

I really cannot wait for another half day to do this again. I think this will be a fun new routine for my students. My favorite part was when a third grader, who was the last to walk out of my art room stop, lean against the wall and let out a big WHEW! When asked if she was alright, she said, "teaching kindergarteners is TOUGH! I'm exhausted!" Ha! 
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  1. 2 classes at once, whew! How many students are in each class? I noticed 35, but was that 2 classes combined?? There have been times when we are so over capped that I've had 35 in 3rd grade and uno It's insanity!

    My school is trying to revamp our special area schedule for next year because the traditional rotation just doesn't seem to work for us or our population.

    Suggestions??? Favorite schedules or rotations??

    1. Hey Myka! Oh, scheduling. We've tried it all: weekly rotation (which is what we currently do, meaning, I have the same classes on the same days of the week. The issue with that is that often times, we have Mondays off and my Monday classes always fall behind) or day-to-day rotation (we only were able to do that for a month before everyone just got so stinkin' confused we had to throw in the towel. I really think that one is the best option...and it's not THAT hard...but it was for us ;) ). All that to say, I've yet to find a fave. My classes were all going to be 30 minutes in length which is why I asked to double up on my older students' classes so that I could get them for an hour. My class sizes max out at 20...which makes me very lucky. It allows me to combine classes without it being too crazy. I don't know what to tell you! Scheduling always seems to be a work-in-progress! Best of luck!!

  2. Thanks for sharing this great idea! I loved the video!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, we can't wait to do it again :)

  3. Hey Cassie,
    Sending encouragement your way! Love seeing what you are doing! Can you share where you get your music like the bango in the video? I'm a middle school art teacher who needs some cool stuff to play in the art room that doesn't have lyrics... too hard to make sure it's G rated. Any suggestions?

    1. Hey Julie! All the music I use in my videos comes courtesy of iMovie. They are usually pretty short clips...but I bet you could create your own series of music clips. I know my music teacher does this with the program Garage Band. I like Pandora for music and I usually set it on the Martin Denney station because I like to imagine I'm at a 1950's cocktail party (the music is FAB and kid friendly!)


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