Prang watercolor trays are about the only watercolors I use at school. They are easy to pass out and a tray can usually be shared between at least 2 or 3 students. Buuuut, some colors run out faster than others, and some just start looking really dingy when you get a student who is maybe not paying as much attention as they should be. When it comes time to replace the strip with new paint, I pop out any wells that still have color in them and store them in a tub. Later on if a color runs out in a new strip, I may have a replacement. I've also found it useful to make custom trays for the student who for lack of coordination, attention, or any other reason, just cannot handle sharing paint or following directions.
During a recent Kindergarten lesson, the students were working on wax resist paintings inspired by Jasper Johns' work. In the first class period, they used oil pastels to draw letters and numbers in a composition on their paper. In the second class period, the students painted over with watercolors. Since the K-6 Art SMART goal this year was to focus on learning primary and secondary colors with Kindergarten students, I asked the students to only use primary paint colors.
Most students did a good job taking care of our new paints and cleaning brushes before switching colors, as seen below.
Some students, usually about one in each class, struggled. I had one little guy who never really seemed to understand directions on any project. He struggled with keeping the shared paint neat. After more demonstration and several reminders, the students he was sharing with were still complaining of him messing up all the other paints. I pulled down an old empty tray and filled it with just the primary colors and it went more smoothly the rest of class. He was still messy, but the other students were not suffering from messy supplies that were not their fault.
I also have a couple students who just don't want to follow directions out of defiance or stubbornness, and they ended up with the limited palette since they couldn't handle the temptation of the other colors.*
*Typing "the temptation of the other colors" kind of makes me feel bad! I've felt a pull toward TAB the last couple of years but can't quite figure out how to pull it off in my school environment with the expectations we have on us. If I had my own independently run studio for teaching Art, I would totally take a TAB approach.
Here are a few of the finished paintings. It wasn't my favorite lesson of all time, but it hit on Art History, color theory, and painting. It also helped work on my SMART goal and tied in skills that are emphasized in the Kindergarten curriculum with letter recognition and printing.