Stepping Stones is a monthly column that breaks down seemingly daunting tasks into simple, manageable “steps” that any art educator can take and apply directly to their classroom. Stepping Stones will explore a variety of topics and share advice for art-on-a-cart teachers and those with art rooms.
END-OF-THE-YEAR PROJECT SOLUTIONS
by Heidi O’Hanley
Congratulations! You are almost finished with the school year. It’s time to start wrapping up the remaining projects and finalize the portfolios. On top of wrapping up the final lessons, it’s also time to pack away everything you will need for the next school year.
We all have different scenarios when it comes to closing up our spaces. If you’re on a cart, you might be doing an inventory on stock before that final push of the cart into your storage space. Some teachers are reassigned to new spaces and need to pack away everything they use for instruction. Others have multiple schools to pack up, and some teachers just close and lock the classroom door. No matter where you teach or what you need to do to wrap up the school year, it’s nice to have projects at the end of the year that are less complex.
Here are a few ideas for the end-of-the-year projects that can help with the extra duties of packing:
1. Work with simple materials that are easy to pack away. From personal experience, the last thing you want to be working with on your last day of school is any project that requires heavy liquid paints, beads, gems, feathers, glitter or clay. All your bigger materials should be ready to be packed away for easier cleanup.
There was a year I worked with acrylic paint on the last day of school, and the students had a difficult time bringing their artwork home with their full bookbags. It was an early mistake I do not wish to make again, so please make sure the materials you work with can be something they can take with them on that last day of school.
2. Use tempera cakes for easy cleanup and quick dry. My younger grade levels are normally bouncy and excited at the end of the school year. Many times, drawing projects will not be enough to catch and keep their attention in those last few classes. If you even say the word “paint,” kindergarten students will jump for joy. My favorite paint to use at the end of the year is tempera cakes. They are easy to set up and clean up before and after projects. The paint also dries quickly, so even afternoon classes on the last day can take their projects home.
3. Create drawing lessons focused on principles of design. A good majority of my end-of-the-year projects are drawings. You can use up the last of the pencils, rulers, markers and coloring materials to complete your projects. There are plenty of projects you can create with these simple materials—from sketching to still life, portraits to perspective, symmetry to “zentangle” designs. You can have students complete their end-of-the-year project with simple materials.
4. Use up the scraps. Do you save a ton of colored scrap paper for projects? Do you have glue bottles that need to be emptied out? Consider a paper collage–type project to use up all the scraps! What better way to talk about Matisse’s paper cutouts or create paper sculptures while using up what materials you have left!
5. Create simple Op-Art projects. In my upper grade levels, students work with op-art designs to exercise their brains in the last weeks. It’s almost as if they are working toward solving a puzzle within their own work. Op art is a form of abstract art that gives the illusion of movement by using patterns and colors. Using limited materials, students can create amazing optical illusions!
6. Utilize the technology. Are there Chromebooks available? Do you have tablets? Do you have a projector? Whatever you have, you can work within your technology to give the students experiences without all the materials. Create an online Jeopardy game to revisit prior knowledge learned throughout the year. Do you have a Symbaloo (www.symbaloo.com) account? My students visit my art-game Symbaloo table to play games once they’re done writing artist statements.
7. Have a playground or courtyard? Work with your space! On warm days, you can take students outside and work with the environment. You can do sidewalk chalk drawings, or earth art/nature-object art inspired by artist Andy Goldsworthy.
8. Collaboration Days. On those last days of school, you can have students work collaboratively with art games or mini projects. It will help keep students active in those last few classes.
If you are ever stuck on finding quick and simple ideas for the end of the year, visit your social media art-teacher groups and just ask. Many educators are willing to share their knowledge to help you along the way.
Enjoy the rest of your school year with your students, and stay positive! Summer is almost here!
Arts & Activities Contributing Editor, Heidi O’Hanley (NBCT), teaches art at Brodnicki Elementary School in Justice, Illinois. Visit her blog at www.talesfromthetravelling artteacher.blogspot.com.