Choose Your Own Art Adventure

my setup

As an elementary art teacher it's clear that despite the best planning and nurturing students will always be finishing projects at different rates... and that's great! I'm happy to let each student take the time they need to feel they have completed a project to their satisfaction, even if that means there are many students who finish earlier. 

I've tried many things to keep this transitional phase of each project positive and productive, but the best solution thus far was inspired by the Choose Your Own Adventure books. What if every student, grade K-6, knew how to use all the tools in the art room and had prompts to guide their process in a more engaging way? What if all the materials for each project resided in a handy-dandy color coded cart?

Put those what-ifs together and you've got Choose Your Own Art Adventure!

This idea is so simple and, with a little education at the beginning of the year for students regarding how to use it, it can work for any classroom!

How to set up Choose Your Own Art Adventure in your classroom:

  1. Dedicate a space to place all the materials for your activities. This can be like the color-coded cart I mentioned above, or any series of trays on a bookshelf, even labeled cabinets if you're lucky enough to have extra space.
  2. Clearly label the materials and expected procedures for each activity. Make sure students can find everything they need easily and without your assistance so they can be absolutely independent! (You can also limit how many students may use an activity at one time) If you can devote more education to this process at the beginning of the year, you will need to give only simple instructions!
  3. Plan a range of art activities to appeal to a variety of learners and skill sets. Consider your students who like to write or chat- let them have a critique with a friend! Include clay work (modeling clay works well) for your kinesthetic learners. Origami is great for students who enjoy following step-by-step instructions. Calligraphy (I also include kanji and hieroglyphs) is great for students who enjoy precise fine-motor practice.  
  4. Replenish each activity throughout the year, and switch up the choices to keep things fresh! Keep an eye on each drawer or tray- kids will stop picking activities if they look damaged or depleted. If you notice some activities are being neglected, try some new options to rally interest. 

some examples to get you started!