Every new art teacher can relate to the first moment they walk into their inherited art room. What did the former teacher leave behind? What supplies will be found in the Narnia of the art education world: THE SUPPLY CLOSET?!
Maybe the previous teacher was a hoarder (guilty). Or a type A super organizer (not guilty). Or maybe you are the lucky teacher who gets to open a brand new school and art program.
I moved to a new state in 2015 and changed grade levels along the way. I accepted my new position over the phone and had no idea what to expect. I walked into my new space filled with anticipation and anxiety. Will I have what I need to survive the first week of school? What do I do if I find glitter and googly eyes?
One of my first attempts at teaching 5th grade art are these Expressive Masks. It incorporated what I knew and loved, sculpture and culture, with materials I had access to with my limited budget. The fabulous custodians at my new school brought me cardboard boxes formally containing text books, toilet paper and potato smiles (you know, the smiley face potato fries school cafeterias serve…) Oil pastels left behind from my predecessor brought the color to these relief sculptures.
One of my first joys of this grade level was watching 10-11 year old kids discussing Picasso and African art without the fear of social stigma. If you want to see art in a new way ask a ten year old to make observations about an abstract artwork. Inspiring.
These cardboard sculptures are super cheap, create so many opportunities to connect to art history and culture, and allow students to create art in a hands-on and engaging way.
Student work in progress:
Check out my step-by-step YouTube tutorials: These are great for introducing and reviewing techniques. Anyone else get exhausted teaching and reteaching the same concept six times a day? And the dreaded “what did I miss yesterday?” is easily answered with these visual guides!