SchoolArts Room

More on Managing the Art Room

By Nancy Walkup, posted on Mar 6, 2011

Just received this email about classroom management, an issue dear to all of our hearts:

Nancy:  I don't have an art room!  I do "art on a cart" grades 1-5, but many of the strategies I use can be applied to large or small classrooms such as:


  • All paper is cut ahead of time (and I use a lot of different sizes for various projects).
  • Monitors (students)  pass out (and collect) most materials.
  • Tempera paint is poured into divided foam trays; some can be re-used, but most are just thrown away.
  • A wet-wipe (alias diaper wipes) which I cut in half to economize for most lessons, is provided at the end of the period to wipe hands and clean the tables.
  • I also use paper towels (dispenser kind) cut in half, passed out at beginning, if glueing or using oil pastels, or other messy things.
  • A "fold" of newspaper (about 6-8 sheets) is used for clay projects--then toss.
  • Watercolor pans:  I I take them out of the box to save space and washing of those awkward boxes, and just pass out the "strip" of color pans.
  • If the project only involves a few (3 or 4) colors, I put those colors on the lids of yogurt cartons and pass them out that way.  I keep a whole tray full of these ready for use.  I also wet the pans ahead of time with a spray bottle of water.
  • A sheet of 18" x 24" newsprint (plain) or a sheet of newspaper would work, ("keep the table clean paper" we call it) is put down at each place. Fold twice and throw away at end of lesson.
  • NO ONE get out of seat during lesson  (except monitors, as necessary).
  • I have made drying racks out of empty cartons, sprayed to eliminate advertising, I have a pattern for this if interested; they are lightweight and I take them back to my workroom to dry and press (I find lots of projects need an overnight under a weight(pkgs of paper) to be nice and flat for mounting
  • I mount ALL projects before they go back to the teacher (I do this while TV is on at home").
  • I wash brushes after classes.
  • Glueing:  Monitors give out a half paper towel and a round toothpick to each student (or one to two students) and I pour a small puddle of glue on each towel. Students use toothpicks to apply glue.  Greatly superior to having to fill glue bottles.
  • Watercolor: if doing a wash, I wet the paper in the sink before taking it to class (keep it in a shallow tray).  I previously used a spray bottle; this works much better and is much less time-consuming


Hope you can use some of this.  It is not very organized, and I have a million of these!


Maureen, thanks for sharing! You have given me some new ideas to try! I'm of the "stay in your seat"
school, as well.