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Setting up for an art, craft or design lesson!

Posted by Jane Wood-Chambers on Thursday, 6 September 2018
Jane Wood-Chambers
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 Having a class of 30 individuals with pots of paint, glue, scissors, clay, wire, paper maché, charcoal and a whole host of other mediums can feel like a daunting task!

The teaching of the arts in their purest form is an essential and extremely important part of the primary curriculum. As described in the National Curriculum programme of Study for KS1 and KS2, ‘Art, craft and design embody some of the highest forms of human creativity.’

Indeed, it goes on the say that, ‘a high-quality art and design education should engage, inspire and challenge pupils, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to experiment, invent and create works of art, craft and design.’

How can this be done and where do you start with the organisation of an art session that may include drawing, painting or sculpture?

With tight organisation, however, it can lead to a most creative enjoyable session for all! Whether you have been teaching for a week or 10 years planning the session is crucial and it is at the planning stage that you can be at your most organised, insightful and creative.

It also gives you the opportunity to use your knowledge of the subject and the pupils and your skills as a teacher to know how best to deliver a session that meets the objective and enables all pupils to make progress and attain.

colour craft

Start with what you would like the pupils to achieve and then work back as to how in the 45-60-minute session they can learn something by listening, seeing and doing. If you would like them to learn the techniques for colour mixing then the children will need to see artwork that uses this technique, have an opportunity to discuss the artist’s work and evaluate it and then have a go at colour mixing!

Often it is the ‘have a go’ section of the lesson that can be marginalised and yet it is the part of the session the pupils love the most. Make sure it is the longest section of the lesson and lasts for at least 30-40 minutes. Follow these simple steps to make the practical part of your lesson a success and a long-lasting one.

1. Preparation – like decorating your house it is all about the preparation.

Cover everything in newspaper, use your classroom monitors for this and set it up before the lesson (art is usually after lunch so arrange for the 4 x monitors to come in 20 minutes before the end of lunchtime to help!)

2. Make sure there are enough aprons and that they all have stings on them! Having a ball of string handy in the classroom and a pair of scissors will troubleshoot any string less apron that may need to be used.

Ask the pupils to remove all jumpers and put them on their pegs or in their trays and to roll up all sleeves. Certain pupils hate mess on their clothes and parents will thank you for the efforts made to keep the paint away from the expensive uniforms (certainly at the beginning of term!)

3. Put out the pots of paints, water and mixing palette; enough for 1 between two for ease of access and a selection of brushes of varying width to allow for choice in the implement they wish to use. Again, use your monitors to do this.

kids colouring

4. Give the pupils enough time to enjoy the practical element of the session and plan for support activities and extension. Some children will be able to colour mix already, ask them to go onto develop their own ‘paint’ chart of the hues they can mix from red through to yellow.

Other children will struggle to get any colour mixed aside from brown. Limit their colour choices to 2; red and yellow (to make orange) and blue and yellow (to make green). They can then make as many shades of orange and/or green as they can.

5. Make sure that there is a drying area in or near the classroom and model and explain how you would like the work, when finished, to be taken there. Carrying it like a tray is best as it avoids drips and smudging of the work.

6. Plan in time for clearing up and washing of hands; organise this like any other end of session tidy up time and be clear with the expectations and delegate jobs to each table/group/pair.
  • Each pupil to take their work to the drying area when finished and then returns to tidy their table.
  • Have monitors at the drying area to make sure the work is placed correctly and not overlapping other pupils work.
  • Be clear where the used pots of paints, water, mixing palette, brushes and wet newspaper go. Pots of paint can be placed directly in the sink, as can the palettes. Brushes can go in an old washing up bowl and this can be taken by the ‘brush monitors’ to the tables and the brushes collected. The paint pots can be collected on trays in the same way and then popped near the sink. Teach the pupils to roll up the newspaper and then have the ‘bin monitors’ take the class dustbin to the tables for the newspaper to go into.
  • Hand washing can take place in the toilets, 4 at a time and run it very tightly. If you have an extra adult then they can monitor, and if not then use class monitors again to count children back into the class and out to wash their hands.
  • Never take off an apron until all of the tidying up is done! If you have a break after the session, then the apron can be placed on the back of their chair and they can be folded and collected when the class is back after break; again use an ‘apron monitor’ to do the collecting.

It is all about the organisation!



About our Community Expert


Jane Wood-Chambers
Editorial Advisory Board Lead

Over 27 years of educational experiences in a number of settings. Developed a clear vision and ethos for inclusion which puts the child at the centre and a clear understanding of how to support, engage and nurture the individual.

Ability to train all staff through effective and reflective continual professional development in behavioural management techniques that begin, establish and maintain change in all.

Topics: Teacher development


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