TIP #39: What to Teach on the First Day of Art Class

TIP #39 What to Teach on the First Day of Art Class

Planning what to teach on the first day of art class can be challenging for new and experienced teachers alike. Even if you had the same students the previous year, it can be hard to know where to begin.

Your first meeting with students should leave them feeling engaged, inspired, and wanting more. So postpone teaching rules and procedures for now (except for these 3 essential rules) and dive right into creating instead.

What to keep in mind when planning your first day of Art Class

When planning a creative activity for the first day of Art class, keep the following things in mind. Look for projects that are abstract or “non-objective”, easy to complete in one session, and suitable for a range of abilities.

Projects with abstract (or non-objective) art

These activities offer a low-stress introduction to Art class. When the pressure of achieving a realistic likeness is removed students can relax and just enjoy the practice of creating.

Process-oriented projects can also be used to help students review methods or techniques while becoming re-engaged in the creative process.

Projects that can be completed in one session

It’s a good idea to choose projects that can be completed in one session for those early weeks of school. This is a time when enrollment often shifts with students adding, dropping, or arriving late. 

If students can complete their project in one session, you won’t have late arrivals showing up the next week mid-project. You’ll also avoid having to store incomplete projects from students who started the class but didn’t return.

Projects suitable for a range of abilities 

Choosing projects that are easily differentiated for a range of abilities will also be helpful at the start of a new school year. You’ll find some students are able to work independently, freeing you to give more help to those who need it.

This will also give you a sense of the current skills within this new grouping of students. Planning future lessons becomes easier once you’ve seen your students at work and better understand their abilities and challenges.

Try these projects on the first day of Art class

Some good options for easily adaptable, process-oriented projects completable in one session are Monoprint MandalasTangle Drawings, and Painted Papers. If working with clay is an option for you, these unique Feeling Sculptures are so satisfying and fun to make.

Are you just starting out on your Art teaching adventure? Then check out this practical advice for new teachers

an inspiring quote:

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

The first time you meet with a new group of students can definitely be a scary experience! Even seasoned teachers encounter surprises and situations they hadn’t planned for with every new class they teach.

But each time you make it through a tough situation, you become more resilient and your confidence grows. Teaching art to kids will regularly challenge you to step outside your comfort zone. But the benefits of helping kids discover and use their creativity are well worth it!

a question worth considering:

What will you do to engage your students on their first day back in Art class?