I wanted to kick the new school year off on the blog with a look into my room and some new things I am trying this year as well as a re-vamp of some others!
Welcome to the Art Room at Yahara Elementary (K-4) in DeForest, Wisconsin!
I am so grateful to have such an incredible space for my students. A spot to gather, two large sinks, technology, plenty of space to work, and storage!
I am even lucky enough to have my own little nook where students are restricted from. I also got rid of my big clunky desk (that I never sat at) to open up more space for early finishers and to add a book rack for the kids.
This is will be my third year in the district and I am always inspired by other art educators to try new things with my students. So here is a look into some of the new and revamped old things happening in my room this year.
Traveling Classroom Sketchbooks
This idea came to me from a classroom teacher in my building. Her daughter attends elementary school in the McFarland School District with art teacher Bonnie Tuttle. Thank you Bonnie for this awesome idea!
When it was her daughter's turn with the sketchbook she was so excited that she brought it to school and showed it to me. I knew I had to do it! I took some quick pictures of the sketchbook and worked from there to put together my own system for our school.
Below is what is attached to the inside front covers for families and each time a student takes it home I put a label with their name on their pages they can use and the date it needs to come back to school.
I made it a point to communicate with classroom teachers that I was doing this so they can encourage the responsibility of it and let me know of students that may have an issue with getting it back to school. I also communicated with students that it doesn't have to be done at home either, they could do it with after school care, another teacher, or our principal.
I save about 3 minutes after clean up for the artist to sit on my teacher stool and share what they did in the sketchbook. They they are not talking much, I prompt them with questions about materials and inspiration sources.
Our district and the surrounding Madison area are doing a lot of work with mindfulness in the schools. UW Madison in particular does a lot of research on Mindfulness and it is trickling into the entire public school system in the area. Training for staff and working in the classroom with students is on the rise and it is pretty incredible.
Last year I dabbled in mindfulness with a bell at the start of class and a deep breath followed by us reading together...
"Artists are kind with our bodies, Artists are kind with our words, Artists are kind with our minds, Artists are kind with our hands"
I saw a poster similar to the one I created a above and started to rethink our start of class. I still ring the bell but now just ask students to listen to me read the poster and do the deep slow breath.
We also have this bizarre extra time built into our schedules every day called Plus Time where every grade gets two extra specials during our 12 day rotation BUT we can't do curriculum with them during that time.
At a mindfulness training I took over the summer I got my hands on this incredible book and it inspired an awesome idea. During that plus time with 1st-4th I have them participate in mindful visualizations and drawings. I find some sort of youtube visual that goes with the visualization I am reading for those kiddos that can't just lay there and need something a little more to focus on. It is going off incredible and I can't wait to share the art coming out of it on a later post. For the time being, I do not do it with Kindergarten but probably will start to mid-year.
I purchased the first book from this series, there are two more that my other elementary art team members purchased. You can find them all on amazon.
Look What We Learned Board
I started a "Look What We Learned" board outside of the art room. I believe this idea came from the ever incredible Cassie Stephens. The way I presented this to my students was a place to share their "Aha!" moments and things they were really proud of in the art room. I think as long as I am reminding and encouraging students they can add to it, I think it will get used on a regular basis. Two weeks in, and there is already a handful up on the board (this was taken before school started).
I keep a stack of post-its on a small table inside my classroom and they can add to it after showing me what they wrote during any work time.
"Hello my wonderful artists!"
"Hello my wonderful art teacher!"
"How are you today?"
"Ready to create!"
Sound familiar? This new greeting I do with my students when they come into the room and get seated on the carpet-- I can also thank Cassie Stephens for. The kids match my voice and it lets them say something and be loud before we settle in with the mindfulness bell. It has been working AWESOME.
Stay tuned for more inside my art room and be sure to follow on instagram for daily updates!