Imagination Stations: Tips & Tricks in a New Art Room
It's only natural to want to reorganize a new space quickly. Over the summer I spent hours walking around my new room picturing where to move furniture and how to store supplies before the arrival of my students. Had the hallway lights not been turned off and my charming school made spooky, I would have stayed well into the night. But the needs of an efficient art room blossom over time and solutions present themselves as children filter through its current condition. Little voices will tell you, “Why isn't there a step stool here?, or, “This table is too close to me.” Their fleeting observations catch your attention because you had no idea where to place that paper rack. I like the feeling of a well run imagination lab and constant readjustments like these reduce obstructions to the creative process. Here are some tips and tricks to try in your art room:
I needed aprons. Not old tee shirts, or button ups, and not flaps of material with strings that need to be cut because small fingers can make a very impressive knot. I needed cheap, easy to take on and off, easy to wash, easy to replace, and fits everyone from 5-12 style aprons. In complete desperation I pulled scraps of fabric left in my closet by the beloved art teacher before me (thank you Gayle!), measured a 1st grader, cut a rectangle, and cut a small triangle for a head to fit though, and Voila, cave man aprons. Perfect.
Paper cutters are a necessity in an art room, but can often be to big to safely accommodate small spaces. I turned mine sideways and put my owl puppet on the handle to avoid hard bumps. I also placed a smaller paper cutter on top that I brought from home. To catch paper I cut on the large cutter I simply open a wire basket from below.
Ah, storage. This is the secret word to whisper into an art teachers ear. Here I replaced large dusty shelves that housed long flat posters and paper with Ikea's Antonius wire baskets. They are THE PERFECT size and a price that couldn't be beaten anywhere else. I labeled each one with a class code and sat back to admire the tranquility that comes when you have slayed the beast called chaos. Wire baskets = happy. Inexpensive wire basket = very, very happy.
This cabinet was re-purposed to tame my papers, which I found everywhere. The bins inside hold scrap paper of the same color. I like order, like rainbows :)
My supply wall is stuffed with art making tools for small hands to get. Clear containers make it a snap to find what you're looking for.
My art room mom, Mrs. D, has a rollie cart all to herself so she can help make projects or roll to wherever she's needed.
Milk crates have made hefting art books around a lot easier. They can be placed atop tables for easy sharing and keeps them organized by categories, like drawing books, reading books, how-to books, and art history. I got mine from local gas stations and food chains that were happy to donate to their local schools art department.
Pinterest alert: I labeled each table by color and artist. I also printed out an example of the artists work to tape to the backside. I use it as a learning tool to help remember the artists name and style of work. Basics: For my seating chart I label each seat with a number, curbing behavior problems and helping subs know where students should sit.