It’s a Brand New Year and ANYTHING is Possible in Your Classroom!

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Welcome back to school! It’s a fresh new school year and the season of beginnings. Many of you already have classrooms filled with eager, bright and often shy new faces. Others are busily preparing for that exciting first day of class. All of us, whether we are teachers, parents or simply “grown ups” who love children are eagerly anticipating a year of joyful learning. Let’s explore how ART ties in with those first exciting weeks of school. How do YOU use art to help children engage in your classroom? Here’s a useful handout to send home with parents as school begins – it helps them understand how they can partner with you in using art to help children grow and become their best selves.
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Recently I asked a group of seasoned teachers about their favorite “first art project.” Several responded with SELF PORTRAITS, I liked that! But given that there are so many drawing materials to choose from for a self portrait, where is a teacher to begin? I love the use of BOLD permanent markers for early self portraits. Here are some examples of back to school self portraits from Francine Farkas’s 4-year-old class.
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Francine gives children bold, permanent markers to draw with so their portraits really “pop” on the page. She keeps these initial self portraits in her children’s Art Portfolios (more on that in a future post) and they will serve as a “baseline” drawing of each child’s development when the year began. Each portrait will be saved and shared at parent/teacher conferences and will serve as a valuable reference point for measuring developmental growth as the year goes by.
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Francine mounts each portrait onto construction paper to emphasize the importance of each one and to create an “art gallery” effect. Because her classroom is not so large, she uses the supply door closet as a gallery space.
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The teacher next door took a different approach to her “first art” self portraits, still using bold permanent markers so the portraits “pop” on the page, but adding a photograph of each child. Look closely at the clever use of a blank picture frame held by each child in its photograph.
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This teacher’s laminated self portraits hang outside her classroom door. What a delightful way for both children and parents to be greeted at the start of each new day.
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Teachers in the four-year-old classrooms at Pressman Academy often leave fine tipped, black permanent markers (PERMBLK) out for open-ended drawing, and as a result children create bold pictures with a sense of authority. One other thing: When I asked my group of seasoned teachers for their favorite “art tip” to start the new year right, they said to offer lots of open ended exploration of art materials right from the start. This included the simplest idea of starting out with easy to use Colorations® tempera cakes (A8TCA) with Colorations® easy grip brushes (EGBRUSH).
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And moved on to including unusual sensory art ideas that children would not likely find at home. Such as these rainbow striped pom pom balls (COLORPOM) in a sensory tub (TUBS) which I saw in one classroom, and those same colorful pom poms in another classroom on trays with sea and zoo  sticks (AP632J) and a variety of other pinch grippers. I loved both these applications! And I also imagined several other things we might do with these same colorful, oversized pom poms.
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Have a wonderful new year, and don’t forget to stock up on fun new art materials to inspire your students and keep YOU feeling inspired as well.
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