Tuesday, July 10, 2012

6 Ideas for End of the School Year Art Classes

Ah, the end of the school year. You know, when the schedule is all wacky, you don't have time to start a new studio project, you're running low on supplies, and you don't want to create a huge mess because you're not really sure how you're going to get everything cleaned and organized as it is? Here are some activities I tried out this year, ranging from K-6th grade, that were done outside in the nice weather, with minimal mess, and few supplies. Bonus- most were no-cost or close to it.

 1. Outdoor chalk mural. I told K-3rd grade classes toward the end of the school year that good behavior could let them earn an outside Art class, and several did earn it. This 1st grade class chose a theme (flowers and people) and went to work on a retaining wall by the playground. The dull colors of the chalk make it hard to see. How cool would it be to paint a permanent mural on this wall?

2. Chalk silhouettes. I wrote a unit plan on dance in my undergrad program (trace body in a dynamic pose on butcher paper and fill with different kinds of lines and patterns), this was my mini version. The students traced a partner's shadow- no chalky bodies- on the blacktop trying to show movement, then filled the shape of the silhouette with patterns.

 3. Paint with water. I took a kindergarten class outside to paint with water. We hauled a bucket of water from the classroom and a big stack of cups so each student had their own "paint". After they used their water, the students could get more or just draw with chalk instead. I didn't get a good picture of a student's water painting, so here is my example.

 4. Andy Goldsworthy inspired Nature Artwork. Viewed and discussed examples of Goldsworthy's artwork then went outside on the school grounds to make some temporary Art. The students could work in groups or individually and could use whatever they found outside. I did ask them not to hurt any plants- unless they were weeds!
Trying to keep their artwork from blowing away!
They really did find this pair of shoes on the playground.

 5. Water "Graffiti". Have you ever heard of "Reverse Graffiti"? We watched this cool video where Paul "Moose" Curtis explains how he makes Art by cleaning and we see a reverse graffiti mural being created.

Source: youtube.com via Katie on Pinterest

Artists who work on reverse graffiti often use stencils and power wash the negative space to leave the image showing. We didn't technically make reverse graffiti- I didn't think of this until the night before so I didn't have time to think about cleaning products. Instead, I bought 6 cheap-o spray bottles (one for each table), which we filled with tap water. As soon as the water evaporated, the "graffiti" was gone. The students had a little time to make a stencil out of paper before we went outside. We had to tape the paper down because it was windy, but honestly, the paper didn't hold up well. I didn't expect it to, I told the students it was an experiment. If I can come up with a sturdier material, I would like to try this again when the students can put in more time on their designs. When the paper stencils didn't work, we used body parts. (We talked about how artists from different cultures use body parts as stencils/masks- I know I've seen it specifically in Aboriginal Art.) The students found it could be tricky to get the right amount of water. Most tried to spray too much then it seeped under the stencil and distorted the image.
They wanted to do a full body stencil but I was mean and said no. :)

6. Shadow Art. This photo was actually taken when a student held up her stencil from the water graffiti experiment, not a separate project, but it could be! There are lots of possibilities here. And over on the Art of Apex High School- check out the post about Shadow Art!

Do you have a favorite easy-peasy, end of the school year idea? If so, I'd love to see it in the comments!


  1. I love all these ideas, and I really love how you teach one of the most important (yet often forgotten)aspects of art- the experiment!

  2. These all look like so much fun and it seems like the activities would be interesting to many age groups!