School auctions are popping up everywhere, and classroom auction projects are an ideal way to get students involved!
With all the funding cuts in education these days, programs like art and music are forced to compete for an increasingly small share of their school’s budget…. if they make it into the budget at all. In many schools, art and music wouldn’t exist without the sponsorship of their Home & School Club. Yet these programs are essential for providing a well-rounded education for our students, and for developing so many important skills, like problem solving, invention, and self-expression, just to name a few!
Parents have had to get creative to find ways to keep these programs alive and flourishing in their schools. More and more schools now host auction events in the spring to raise funding for programs, equipment, and supplies. Whether a school stays low-key with an online auction or a silent auction, or pulls out all the stops for a fancy dinner and live auction event, classroom auction projects can be among the most sought after items.
Classroom auction projects are different from the art lessons you teach the rest of the year. Here are a few things to keep in mind for a successful auction project that will drive parents into bidding wars!
- Every child in the class must be represented.
When scheduling your project, allow plenty of extra time leading up to your deadline. This way students who were absent can have a chance to make it up and be included in the project. Also, make sure parents can easily locate which part (or parts) of the project their child created by placing a “map” or “legend” on the back, or in a folder that goes with it. In more complicated projects, you can take a photo and write each child’s name with an arrow pointing to their contribution. Don’t assume students will remember which part they did…. I learned this lesson the hard way!
- Expect to invest some money to create a quality product that will endure and stand the test of time.
This may come in the form of purchasing higher quality supplies than you normally use, investing in a new medium or material, or maybe having your project professionally framed or mounted. Keep in mind that you are creating a keepsake for a family to enjoy for years to come. Quilts, ceramic tile tabletops, and collages on canvas are all examples of popular auction projects that would be too costly to do in a typical art curriculum. You’ll want to estimate what the project will cost to produce and how much it would need to sell for to be profitable. Consider the families in each class and the level of participation and support they may (or may not) be able offer… and don’t forget the grandparents!
- Begin with the end in mind.
I’m generally not in favor of placing too much emphasis on the outcome of my students’ artwork, but auction projects by necessity are a different story. You’ll need to find the balance between allowing room for each child’s creativity to shine through, yet still ending up with a cohesive, high-quality finished piece. Good planning on the front end is essential. Work backwards from the size of the completed project to determine the size of each part the students will create. Colors must work together, so consider using a limited palette. And you’ll want to be specific about the subject or theme that each student illustrates. Then, keeping all that in mind, allow room for creativity and individual style…. therein lies your challenge!
- Enlist outside help.
Parents are a natural source of help for auction projects. Even if you don’t typically have many parents who volunteer, they will often be willing to come into the classroom for a one-time visit, like helping with an auction project. Consider any special talents or interests your students’ parents may have, like sewing or construction. Parent participation also brings the added benefit of generating excitement about the project, too! Talk it up and keep parents updated on the project in your newsletter or on your website. I’ve also enlisted the help of my own friends and family for important projects like this. When you really need to ensure a good outcome, a few extra adults in the room can make all the difference. Just be clear about the kind of help you want them to give and be sure they know not to draw or paint directly on a child’s work!
Looking for ideas for your next auction project? Check out my Auction Project Ideas on Pinterest! Below are some of the classroom auction projects I’ve done with my students over the years…. each one raised important funding for our art program…. and taught me a lot in the process!
Note: Hand-painted ceramic tiles can be used to make unique tables, trays, and many other fun items. If you’re interested in trying this type of project for your next auction, Aftosa is a company worth checking out. They specialize in everything you need for ceramic tile projects, including bisque ware and glazes, furniture, and other products in both wood and metal that you can customize with hand-painted tiles. The Aftosa people are great to work with…. they offer fast shipping and excellent customer service. (If your school doesn’t have a kiln, you can google ceramic studios in your area to find someone to do the firing for you.)
What auction projects have been most successful at your school?
What new ideas will you be trying this year?