TIP #40: Solve the Problem of “No-Name Projects” in the Art Room

TIP #40 Solve the Problem of No-Name Projects in the Art Room

Probably every Art teacher has experienced the frustration of “no-name projects” in the art room. Projects without names waste both the teacher’s time and their students’ time. They also put students at risk of not getting credit for work they’ve put their time and effort into.

How do you solve the problem of no-name projects?

Solving the no-name problem, part 1:

The first part of solving the no-name problem lies in being specific about where you want names to go. Your procedure for putting names on projects will vary depending on whether a project is 2D or 3D.

Students need to get their name on their project before it leaves their possession! Some projects are finished in one class period and for others it takes several. But either way, all projects need a name on them by the end of the first class. 

Name procedure for 2D work:

For this reason, I think it’s wise to have students print their names on the back of drawings or paintings first before they begin working. That leaves plenty of opportunities to confirm they’ve done that before class is over. And there’s no worrying about turning over a painting that’s still wet.

By writing their names on the back of 2D pieces, students’ names won’t get covered up by their artwork. When their project is finished, the student can then sign it on the front as the final step. (Read the story, “The Dot” (affiliate link) by Peter Reynolds to inspire students to sign their work!)

Name procedure for 3D work:

3D work can span a variety of sizes and materials. The procedure you choose for student names will vary depending on the material you’re working with and the size and shape of the project.

For projects like this fun clay sculpture, I recommend you supply a paper plate or piece of cardstock for students to place their work on when finished. They can print their name along the edge before they start working with the clay. 

When working with clay, names or initials should be carved into the clay only as a final step. This prevents names from becoming illegible as students continue handling their work.

As you’re prepping for a 3D lesson, plan in advance where students’ names will go. Consider the best temporary spot as well as where names should go when the work is finished. Masking tape or just a slip of paper placed underneath are both good options for work in process.

Solving the no-name problem, part 2:


The second part of solving the problem of no-name projects lies in giving reminders. Not reminders in the casual sense, but reminders that are built right into your classroom procedures.

Reminders can be visual, auditory, or both, and can be given by the teacher or a peer

Reminders can include:

  • Telling students to write their names, and then asking them to signal they’ve done so with a “thumbs-up”.
  • Walking around while students are working to check for names. Or have students “peer-check” by confirming a name on the work for the student to their right or left.
  • Posting a sign at the door reminding students as they leave to make sure their name is on their work.
  • Posting a reminder sign where work is turned in.
  • If students collect work at the end of class, have them confirm a name is on each piece before accepting it.

In the event a few no-name projects slip by (it happens!), here are some ideas to try:

  • Have a “lost & found” folder where students can look for their missing work.
  • You can clip no-name projects together with large bankers clips and hang in a specific place.
  • If you have extra wall space consider having a lost & found “gallery”.

Remember that when students neglect to put their name on their work, it’s not intentional. They want to get credit for their hard work, they just haven’t developed this habit yet. Your well-designed systems and some ongoing reminders will help them until they do!

an inspiring quote

“A person’s name is, to him or her, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”  ~ Dale Carnegie

I had a principal once whose pet peeve was when anyone would spell someone’s name wrong. She was adamant that any written communication to anyone include the correct spelling of that person’s name.

While misspelling a name may seem like a minor offense at first, over time it can become quite hurtful. Spelling a person’s name incorrectly is like the visual version of pronouncing their name wrong out loud. 

When someone spells your name incorrectly, it feels mildly annoying at first. If it continues, even after being corrected, it can soon feel disrespectful. It sends the message, “You aren’t important enough for me to make the effort to spell your name correctly”.

I now find myself carrying on this mission to spread the word about spelling names the right way. Students, co-workers, parents, and others all deserve this sign of respect and encouragement to do the same.

a question worth considering

Is there a name you frequently misspell or feel unsure of how to spell?