Sunday, November 7, 2021

Centers in the Art Room

I'm not sure if you've been experiencing it in your art teacherin' world but of late I've noticed that my students are on the squirrely side of life. It's hard for them to sit still, focus and contain their level of excitement. I can usually manage to ride that wave in 30 minute art classes as we get up and move round, do a little dance, do a whole lot of call and response and stay very busy. However, recently I decided to try something new (for me) and that was create some art-makin' centers for my students on the Friday before Halloween. 

It's hard to do new things, especially if you've been at this art teacherin' thing for closing in on 25 years. However, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is what keeps us fresh and keeps our students excited and intrigued. That's what I noticed when I created this center-formated art day. 

Here's a little of what that looked like:

If you cannot view the above video, than try viewing this blog post from a laptop. Or just tap this link. 
I've done open centers in my room before, most notably on our Field Day. You can read all about that here. I will say, it's a lot of work on the front end when I set up for Field Day. What I found in this most recent experience is that it doesn't have to be. Kids make the most of each center regardless of what is offered. In fact, limiting the supplies seemed to force them to really stretch their imagination. 
Some of my take-aways:

* Limit the centers. Too many seem to overwhelm the kids. Instead, start with just 3-4. 

* Introduce "greatest hits" as well as 1-2 new centers. At the start of art class, you will need to run through the centers to let the kids know what's in store. Too many new centers means too much time spent explaining and confusion. So maybe share ones you know the kids are familiar with (for me that was the large pumpkin coloring sheets and blocks) and introduce the new ones. 

* Limit the amount of kids per center. I limited mine to 2-4 kids per center, depending on the center. I had a sign on each that let the kids know how many kids could create in one space. 

* Dismiss kids to center one at a time. After explaining, I asked each student individually where they wanted to start and dismissed from there. Allowing each student to hop up at once and make a mad dash is not how you want to start your class! 

* Allow students to switch centers at a designated time. With 30 minute art class, I set my alarm each 7 minutes. This allowed kids to hear my alarm and know that if they wanted to switch, they could. My rule was they had to tidy their space before leaving it. This prevented kids from center-hopping from one place to the next without digging in. 

* Hold kids to your rules and routines. Sometimes when we do something different, the kids think that rules and routines go out the window. Let them know that the routines you've established for clean up, working together and noise levels still apply. 

* Pay attention to what they respond to. It might surprise you! And it might give you ideas for future centers. 

Have fun, friends! 

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