Tips for Hands-on Projects

from the District Art Literacy Team

  • Practice the project before you go into the classroom. Are there some helpful hints you should let the students know? You may want to practice at home with your children, their feedback is invaluable!
  • Make sure you have all the supplies. Arrive early and check the Art Cart and make sure everything is in order. Do you need any special supplies? Need to cut paper?...
  • Stress the PROCESS not the PRODUCT. The project should focus on the new skills being learned, not the finished project. Remind the children it takes an artist many years to become the artists of the works in the slides. The goal is to explore some aspect of the master's work, and learn a new process, or work with new materials. The object is to learn something new, experience something new. (Remind them of Degas and van Gogh!!!)
  • DO NOT DRAW OR PAINT FOR THE CHILD. We are trying to encourage their creativity. If they are having trouble, help them verbally. Ask questions. In a drawing for example, help them observe edges, sizes, shadows, proportions, etc. Encourage the child to finger draw in the air as preliminary practice. Difficulties getting started? Try to stimulate their creativity with questions such as "What do you feel when...?" or "Close your eyes, can you see X, Y or Z?" Choose questions relevant to the art project. Get them to focus on one small area first and then expand. Reassure them but also use constructive criticism if necessary to reinforce the lesson. For example, if a child finishes quickly, review their art with them and ask constructive questions such as "does the face need another eye? Or how many legs does a horse have?"
  • Have fun.
  • Tidy up. Make sure the teacher is happy with the way you leave the classroom. Leave the Art Cart clean, restocked and ready for the next team. If supplies are running low, replace them or contact the hands on coordinators.
  • Get the artwork mounted and displayed as soon as you can (don't forget the labels!). Check with the teacher as to where artwork should be hung.
  • Pat yourself on the back! Now wasn't that a great experience?