Ideas For Teaching Art

Simple activity ideas for art teachers.

Looking for some fresh ideas for your art classes? Below are three common subjects:

1. Nature

Encourage your students to explore the macro and micro view of nature. Take young students out of the classroom and into fresh air for a nature walk. Each student should take a plastic bag into which he or she can put things found in nature (acorns, leaves, sticks). Have your very young students find shapes in clouds, trees, grass. Have your students do rubbings of different types leaves or flowers with crayons or pencils when you return to the classroom. This project can last for one day to up to a week.

For older students, have them perform a detailed sketch of something from nature, such as a flower petal or photograph of a butterfly wing. Encourage them to look at the texture, color and shading of the object while applying the sketch to a large piece of paper. You can also do the inverse by having your students take a large object to sketch on a small piece of paper. This project should take a full week.

Have your students create sculptures of objects found in nature. For example, they can make a sculpture of a relative from pine cones and leaves. Have them also present a photograph of the object that serves as their model. This project will be fun for a younger crowd as well as the family. This project will take about a week to complete for each family member.

2. Family

Many students enjoy drawing pictures of their family. You can encourage their creativity by asking them to draw pictures of something special to a family member. For this project, ask each student to first select a family member about which they will draw. Next, have them think of something special to that family member, such as a cat or a wedding ring. The student will then have to draw a detailed sketch of that object. You can have them write a description next to it as well. This project should take one to two class periods to complete.

For a fun sketching exercise, have your students close their eyes and draw their family. Students will be delighted to find that the head they drew is not quite round or that the eyes are in the hair. You can modify this exercise for older students by having them create the drawing without lifting the pencil from the paper. Drawing with eyes closed is important when teaching about perception, detail and connectivity. This project is merely an exercise and can be done in one class period.

3. Self expression

Students young and old turn to art as a form of self expression. Your role is to help them draw out their emotions and tendencies through the craft of art production.

Young artists enjoy having a place where they can put their thoughts. Teach them to create an "anything book." First, give them paper with holes punched along the left edge. Next, have them fold card board around the paper, creating a binding. With a hole puncher, have them create holes aligned with the holes in the paper. Thread yarn through the binding and tie it in a bow. Your students now have a simple book. Have them decorate the cover in any way they like. At the end of class, have them let other student sign their books or leave behind pictures. This will be their most treasured journal for years. The journal-making project takes about one class period.

Have your students paint or draw an entire picture in the color they feel represents them the most. Have them do a self portrait in all purple or example or ask them to draw their foot or house. Students will learn about shading and different hues during this project. You can allow for up to a week for older students and one class period for younger ones.

For more ideas and advice on art projects for your students, consult your local library. Good luck!

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