Musings about the importance and impact of art and art education in the 21st century.

Art Centers

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in , at 5:58 PM
I've been experimenting with art centers for 2 years now and I never had quite the success with them that I had hoped for.  Upon some serious reflection, and numerous semi-successful attempts, I realized that my centers weren't really succeeding for 4 main reasons: 
1. I never spent an adequate amount of time clearly and explicitly teaching students what center time is about, why we were having it in art, and expectations and procedures for using each center.
2. I hadn't come up with centers complex enough to hold students attention while simultaneously being easy enough for them to understand and work at independently.
3.  I didn't quite have the supplies I would have liked when I first began in my school to create centers.
4. I never had enough time really develop numbers 1-3!

This year 3 of my classes have double art periods every other week and so I see those 3 classes almost twice as much as my other classes (which I see on a 6 day cycle). so I decided to develop, teach, and experiment with centers in those classes.  It's been working fabulously thus far.  I explain to each of my 3 extra classes that they are my 'testers' and should use the centers and give me feedback on what they liked and what they think could use some improvement. 

Here are the center ideas I've been using so far and the kids, in grades 3, 4, and 5, love them!

The materials for each of the centers is placed in a different colored basket.  Each basket has a laminated instructions sheet with the title of the center, directions for using the materials, and the steps for clean-up.  The directions/clean-up are very concise and clear containing no more that three bulleted sentences apiece. '
Sketch Center- 4  5"x7" sketchbooks, a package of 25 colored pencils, pencils, erasers, and 'How to Draw' books.

Block Center- the basket is filled with small primary and secondary colored blocks that I bought as a set from Michael s craft store for about $ 20.

Clay Center- I have both Model Magic and Polymer clay in this center, although the polymer clay is very stiff and a bit hard for the students to manipulate.  I recommend just using white Model Magic.  The clay is put into a plastic container with a lid on the top to keep the clay fresh.

I Spy Station-  I have a GREAT 'I Spy' go-fish card game that used pictures instead of regular playing cards.  It's fantastic for ESL students to as it helps to reinforce some basic words, colors, etc.

Wacky Sentence Center- I typed up and  laminated parts of sentences that describe a person or animal, a place, and an action.  For instance "A sleepy eating ice cream....on the subway".  Each part of the sentence is on a different color strip so students take one pink, one yellow, and one green piece and create a wacky sentence to illustrate.  It's a good way to get kids imagination going.  Some students think it's silly and in those cases I'll have them just choose 1 part of a sentence and then write and illustrate their own

 Stencil Station- I have a set of plastic Picasso-esque face stencils.  Students can trace the stencils and then embellish them with neon markers.