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Learning the rules.

Teaching art to groups of young children for the first time is a challenge for the beginning teacher. Typically, youngsters are delighted with the opportunity to create art, but their enthusiasm can explode into chaos unless it is channeled in a positive way. Rules sound unnecessarily restrictive, but they don't need to be. They allow the students to express themselves freely in their artwork, secure in the knowledge that the art they make will be respected, and that the working atmosphere will be in control.

It is helpful if the students can take part in making rules or suggestions that will be comfortable for all. The following thirteen suggestions are appropriate to groups from four to seven years of age.


Sit on the floor in a circle with preschool or kindergartners. Discuss with them how they can all work together as a group. They may come to the conclusion that quiet talking should be allowed, as long as it doesn't disturb anyone while they are working. The fact that children need to be quiet when the teacher is talking may not be as obvious as we think, thus this important rule needs to be stressed.


During the first class, ask first graders to suggest rules to be followed during their art time. Prompt them to answer questions such as: What would you do if--? When is the best time to sharpen pencils? and What should we do when others are talking?


Have the students pr deciding on a particular hand signal and saying, "Everyone talk to each other now and then see how quickly you can stop when I show the magic sign! "


If you are teaching art in someone else's classroom, you might say, "I want to follow your teacher's rules. Who can tell me what they?


Posted rules might be:

DO 1. Listen 2. Share 3. Think 4. Ask Thoughtful Questions

DO NOT 1. Talk More Than Work 2. Hurt Anyone 3. Damage Art Tools or Materials 4. Disturb Others or

There Are Four Rules of Respect 1. Respect for Tools

and Materials 2. Respect for Others 3. Respect for the

Environment 4. Respect for Yourself

Go over the ways the children can show respect in these different areas by asking them to give examples.


You might ask the children, "Why do you think we have these rules? "


A theme for the first art class could be START ART SMART!


An effective teacher can circumvent the need for enforcement of rules by preparing the class for any interruptions that are bound to occur during class. A visitor to the class, special needs students joining the class, a fire drill, or even a sudden snowstorm all need to be acknowledged by the teacher followed by a gentle reminder of the rules made by the students.


Carefully chosen newspaper laid down to protect tables during studio activities can waylay a chorus of giggles. Sometimes the ads can be distracting.


During the first class, it is a good idea to go over lavatory privileges to put the children at ease, especially if they are in an artroom for the first time. You should have a specific procedure for them to follow, such as flipping over a tag hanging on a hook near the door and flipping it back when they return. The tag eases the need for requests which often inspire a parade of others who suddenly need to go as well. The students should be reminded that going to the lavatory will mean losing time in art class, so such responsibilities should be taken care of before or after class. it might also be wise to discuss what they should do if they ever feel sick when they are in the artroom.


Some art teachers leave the discussion of rules until the second day they meet so that the class can get going on an art activity immediately. The second time they meet, the children can reflect on what kinds of behaviors would make a happier class. The teacher can have rules ready to be posted in the room.


Print each rule on colored board and hold up each one. Talk about it. Have the students say the rules with you and practice them. Discuss the consequences of infraction.

"If you choose to break a rule this is what will happen." 1st time: name on the board

(warning) 2nd title: name on board plus check 3rd time: time out (separation from


Some art teachers keep a book for the child's name and offense, with the exact time of day and date of the offense. These may be useful in staff meetings or court cases, which unfortunately do occur.


A motivation for a group that behaves during art class--a star on a specially designed Star Track bulletin board. An accumulation of a number of stars within a given period earns the group a reward, such as a choice of art media on a particular day, or the showing of a well-liked short film to that group.
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Title Annotation:teaching art to young children
Author:Carson, Janet
Publication:School Arts
Date:Sep 1, 1993
Previous Article:Method artmaking.
Next Article:Playful with Picasso.

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