SchoolArts Room

Sage Advice for Teaching Art on a Cart

By Nancy Walkup, posted on May 26, 2014

An art teacher I know will have to teach art on a cart next year for the first time and asked for advice. I posted her call on Art Teachers on Facebook and here are some of the helpful responses that were posted (art teachers are so good about helping each other!)

teaching art on a cart
Photo from Heidi O'Hanley


SIMPLIFY. Go heavier on drawing projects, limit paint and sculpture unless there is an empty space or outdoor area you can use when space/weather permits. Speak to administration about reasonable storage expectations. The rooms to where she travels MUST have a space to store work in progress, or all your lessons must be "one and done." Learn to manage mess and how to clean everything with 3 buckets of water on the cart. Have keys for custodial areas for cleaning BUT MAKE YOUR KIDS clean most of the stuff. Expect teachers not to tell you they are gone for the day and finding out only when your cart arrives that they are gone, doing a party, or finishing a movie, or "forgot" that you exist. Store as little art as possible, but encourage classroom teachers to display it for you. —Box Artist

Have her join art on cart FB page. —Bob Reeker

Communication is key. Classroom teachers need to work with you when moving from room to room, not against you. Also, utilize classroom helpers to ease the dispersement and collection of materials and transport from room to room. In September 2011, I also focused my Naea monthly mentor articles on teaching from a cart. —Heidi O'Hanley

Keep a positive artitude! I am usually on a cart for the last month if school because my room gets used as a lab. I paint and use messy materials but scale the projects down in size. I still do clay too! Get a drying rack with wheels! —Chelsea S. Rogers

Will she have a storage closet? And will she be expected to have an art show? I'd say small make it and take it projects to mainly cover skills...Which sucks. Maybe make portfolios to keep in the classroom to store art. —Jenna ItWorks Rahrig

I'll be on a cart for next year as well due to our school being rebuilt! I will also have to travel between 3 school every day AND I'll be 9 months pregnant! Keep the tips and advice coming. —Jenna Chavalia Maley

Jenna Chavalia Maley, that was me 6 years ago! Make sure you have student helpers to ease your mobility! The teachers provided a chair for me in every room to stay off my feet close to the end. I'm sure the classroom teachers will assist you if needed with how close you'll be to the due date! —Heidi O'Hanley

When I taught Art on a Cart, week 1 was given to making sketchbooks that stay in the classroom. That helped immensely. —Linda Papanicolaou

This thread has attracted some of the best responses I've ever seen to Art on a Cart. As this is a closed group the advice isn't openly available to those who need it quick, though. Any way to remedy that?

I kept the basics on my cart. Drawing paper, scissors, glue sticks, markers and crayons. Left a box in each classroom for work in progress. I tried to do the same project for all grades adjusting for abilities. Had different trays on the cart specific to the lesson I would be teaching. Used students to pass out materials. Down side- it's hard to get to know students as every time you make a seating chart, the teacher changes seats. I have had teachers send home unfinished work, hide the project box and be absent and I'd enter the room and had nothing to teach. I remember starting out one year with 24 scissors with all the same colored handles, end of the year I still had 24 scissors but the handles were all different colors. Always have a backup plan. I have managed to do weaving, watercolors, collage, model magic. —Sheryl Levine Depp

I can share these on my blog and in SchoolArts, if that would be helpful. If you teach art on a cart, send me photos of your cart at —Nancy Walkup

Nancy, I have photos of my carts on my blog page you can use. You can also use my blog as a reference for art on a cart people. —Heidi O'Hanley

Dr. Heidi Lung has also researched art on a cart, and she shared her findings on her webpage. —Heidi O'Hanley

I taught on a cart and tried not to simplify too much, stored works in my storage room as they could get misplaced when in the class... Here's my blog with examples K-8. good luck it's an adventure on a cart! —Kelli Capone Cody

I taught art on a cart minus the cart for 6 years. I would put the supplies for projects in milk crates and place them in the rooms at the start of each day. I would Carr y my "desk" in a backpack. .things like my grade book, stapler. Etc. I always had backup drawing lessons also. I still did paper mache, clay and everything. Good luck. There is nothing like having a classroom.—Deborah Ellis Vaughn

I did it for a year and had a place in each grade level to leave projects and portfolios. I also had multiple drying racks. I also had an office area for materials. —Beth Carter

Where good shoes. It saves your feet at the end of the day. It's better to have a light cart than a very heavy 300 lbs cart. Save your back. The heavier carts are harder to stop than a light one. —Christy Berry

Get organized, plan weeks ahead of time, and do as much as you can on the computer with documenting. I keep lots of lists, forms, and a calender with day by day plans on a flash drive so I don't have to log out the other teacher when I use their room, saves alot of time. —Emily Garner

Buy comfortable shoes. —Kathy Ficker

A good bag to carry teacher supplies, like pens, pencils, rosters, grade book, water bottle, etc. When I taught art on a cart, I also had a folder for each class that contained class notes, discipline notes, rosters, etc. —Kara Walter Morris

I worked from a cart for 7 long years and being organized is one of the most important things. I had plastic bins that we easy to load onto my cart. Larger ones to hold portfolios (artwork) and smaller ones for the supplies. I had the kids do ALL of the clean up/pick up which helped a lot for classroom management. I had a small office to pull my cart into and reload for the next groups. Have a positive attitude about being from a cart teachers did not give me any storage space at all. I also couldn't do anything 3d because there simply was no space. Good luck and just try to make the best of it. (It sucks trust me) —Amanda L Chovan

Be sure to plan lessons for all levels in units with similar supplies that week or two. —Christine Besack

^ what Christine Besack said. THat helps you lighten the load of materials. —Heidi O'Hanley

I was art on a cart for several years. You all have great advice! I love this forum. Remaining positive is so helpful....One positive I got from Art on a Cart was that the classroom teachers seemed to appreciate me and what I did for their students (seeing me in action) more. You are definitely not isolated! Another positive is that they were already seated and quiet. —Kim Zierke