5 “get-to-know-you” activities and lesson plans for art teachers

5 “get-to-know-you” activities and lesson plans for art teachers

At the beginning of the school year, your art room comes to life with a flurry of excitement from new student artists. But it can be challenging to access the individual interests, talents, and even the insecurities, of all these artists right away. That’s where lesson plans for art teachers that engage students in specific “get-to-know-you” activities can be a real game changer because they assist you in learning more about your students, as well as their artistic abilities, right from the start.

To help you plan ahead for the new school year, I’ve pulled together five of my favorite start-of-the-year lesson plans for art teachers below. These projects will help you build stronger relationships with your students while incorporating important topics, like social-emotional learning, into fun activities they’ll enjoy. 

1. “I am an artist” collage (Grades K–5)

As a great activity to use at the beginning of the year, this project allows students to engage in self exploration in a creative way. By incorporating answers to interview questions in their pieces, students will create a self-portrait that tells a story about a specific life experience.

The project includes assessment pieces, such as reviewing line, color, and color mixing, as well as opportunities to teach or review procedures with many different forms of art media. Plus, as an added bonus, you can order all the needed materials for the plan in one convenient classroom kit.

2. Mod Podge® head collage (Grades 5–12)

This classic art activity is a great way to combine art with social-emotional learning by allowing students to explore their unique personality traits to make a collage on a Styrofoam® head. You can also add a “get-to-know-you” spin to the project by asking students to collect and include images in their collage about specific interests, family, friends, pets, and more.

The lesson also includes self-reflection questions and questions to start an SEL-focused discussion after the projects are complete. Materials for this plan are also available in a convenient classroom kit.

Suggested materials list:

3. Sketchbook covers (Grades 4–12)

Are your students using sketchbooks this year? A great art activity for the start of the year is to ask students to make a collage or drawing that expresses who they are on the covers of their sketchbooks. You can specify guidelines or leave it completely up to them. 

And, if you’re looking for a simple way to incorporate SEL in your art room, try using the Nasco SEL Reflections Journal Kit instead of traditional sketchbooks. This kit includes a sketch diary, five gel ink pens, and 30 days of built-in journal prompts based on CASEL’s five core competencies to help students gather their thoughts and put them into words or drawings. 

4. Lines galore mixed media painting (Grades K–6)

Mixed media line exploration is another art activity that can help younger artists build confidence. The lesson plan offers a fun way to practice different kinds of lines, and it can also be a great building block for your next project because it includes more difficult elements, such as zentangles, for more advanced students.

All the materials needed for this lesson are also available in a convenient classroom kit.

Suggested materials list:

5. Create a collaborative mural (Grades K-12)

Are you looking to build community and artistic confidence in your students right out of the gate? Try a grade-level or school-wide collaboration, such as the Community Circle Project. To get started, have students create a piece of the project in the art room and then hang the completed project in the hall during the first month of school. 

Collaboration projects like this usually require simple materials, which gives you more time to focus on procedures and relationship-building with students during those first few classes. This could also be a great opportunity to introduce students to a specific artist, incorporate literature, or use as a start-of-the-year assessment. 

Suggested materials list:

Sharpie® Twin-Tip Marker, BlackNo. 2 pencilBallpoint pen3-to-4 various size circles to use as templates to trace (yogurt container, pill bottle, canned good, etc.)Plain white paper (any weight, based on preference; copier paper is fine)

Use these lesson plans for art teachers at the beginning of the year and beyond

Although perfect for the beginning of the year, these lesson plans for art teachers are great for self-expression and community building throughout the year, too. Plus, with convenient classroom art kits, you’ll spend less time finding lessons and ordering materials and more time making amazing art with your students.

About Sam Rausch

Sam Rausch is Nasco Education’s resident Art Educator and Customer Engagement Manager. Her background includes teaching in both a classroom environment as well as nontraditional community art spaces, including museums, libraries, adult day centers, parks, and galleries. 

Contact Sam at srausch@nascoeducation.com

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