August 08, 2015

First Day Project: PAINTING

Yep!  I'm officially crazy!!!! ha ha

A few years ago I went to my first NAEA conference(Fort Worth).  I met amazing educators that were passionate about teaching visual arts.  I loved talking "shop" with people that loved their job as much as me!!  One of the topics we talked about was first day practices.  I had always started the school year with seats, rules, and a self portrait.  It seemed "SAFE" & a way to "EASE" back into things.  There is total validity to that practice..and no one should feel otherwise if it works for them!!!  You spend time with other passionate art educators & you will quickly realize that there are a million "GOOD" ways to do things.  There is not a one size fits all...and no one should feel bad about doing things differently.  However, I feel it is our obligation to consider what we do and see if it is the "BEST" way of doing things.  This allows us to grow.  


So this year I decided I was going to paint with my students on the first day.  I knew I had to get students seats assigned, go over some key rules....and then try to fit in the painting.  This means I had to have things ready to go.  Paint already served up(limited color palette...varying it a little each class so I can get the super cool gradation) & brushes ready to go.   I gave the students a 9x12 piece of 90lbs paper.  They were required to draw as big of a circle as possible.  They then had to draw a design based on circles/dots on the inside of their larger circle.  1st grade mostly looked like chocolate chip cookies,  but they had a blast creating.  2nd - 4th really seemed to "get it" and do a great job. I discussed Principles of Design with them(quickly) & showed them some examples. Now Monday I'll have Kindergarten for the first time(they go half days the first week...and do not come to special areas).  I will precut their circles and probably use BIGGIE WATERCOLOR sets with them(covering two of the four colors to limit their palette).  I cut them out after they dried and had older students help me with the black outlines(using tempera).  The whole process is very busy...very fast...furious..... AND A WHOLE LOT OF FUN!!!!!!!!!!

If you are wondering...yes...I'm going to connect this to THE DOT.  My plan is to switch the colors each day till I have a rainbow of awesomeness!!!  I'll display this in the hall...connecting the sections on the wall...each section being a day's worth of circles(I'm afraid it will be too heavy if I connect all 550 circles together before hand).  

I'll review & reinforce classroom rules and procedures when they return to art(I know some of you really want to make sure your kids get it...and I do too!!  I just loved the idea of capturing their attention in a new way on the very first day of art!!!)

Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions...hope this helped for those of you who were asking on Facebook!!  


  1. Can't wait to see your display! I've been starting off with dot murals the last couple years as well. Gives the kids a break from hearing rules, rules, rules. Donna Staten

  2. I've dying to try something new and you gave me a great idea. I'm going into a new building with a new art room this year and now a new school project. Thanks for the push! :-)

  3. Love your first week excitement and energy!

  4. Ted this is fantastic! Is it ok if a fellow Art teacher respectfully borrows this kind of idea? I love the idea of the kids painting on the first day of Art (I bet they love it!), and the monochromatic pieces are a nice jump-off for color theory in each grade!

  5. Go for it Meg!!! Send me pics when you are done and I'll post them on my blog!!!