Pre-K & Kindergarten AHHHHH!

   I love that the big topic this week has been teaching art to Kinders!  This is a subject that I enjoy discussing because I love to teach them.  I would like to refer you to my previous post on Teaching Kinders with Art Centers before reading further. 
   Kinders aren't so bad once you understand them.  I have taught whole group instruction with this age during my student teaching and it was not too successful. I was constantly losing them! Not to mention that some would be done in 10 minutes and I still had 30 more minutes to go. And I didn't feel like constantly finding things for them to do.  I would even create projects that were tedious that they ended up hating rather than learning something from.  
   When embarking on my quest in my own classroom, I looked to the first book that I ever bought when I decided that I wanted to be an Art Teacher : The Art Teacher's Survival Guide by Helen D. Hume. It was and still is my bible. Along with her other great book: The Art Teacher's Book of Lists.  Hume lists characteristics of children at each grade level. Here are some that she lists for Kinders:
Unable to sustain any activity for terribly long
Leave out things that are not important
Allow students to experiment with materials
Give skills and media lessons step-by-step
A Kindergarten Matisse Snail
   With this knowledge I devised my plan of teaching Kindergarten with Centers. Their class period is 50 minutes long so I divided my time accordingly. 
3 centers, 15 minutes each with 5 minute clean up and line up. 
- 2 centers are "do-it-yourself" which need little supervision
- 1 center is the Project center where the main lesson is taught
   Once again please refer to my earlier post for Teaching Centers details. The art lessons are kept simple and are broken down into step-by-step directions. Most of the time I use lessons that are based on experimentation. I cover lessons on the elements and principles, and apply them to projects that will cover most art techniques (Collage, Crayon, Paper, Painting, Sculpture, etc). 
   I even teach Pre-K for 45 minutes!! The Centers are more like 12 minutes with this time frame.  I don't have standards for Pre-K; therefore, all of their project lessons are experiments with different types of art and how to correctly use art materials.  I have Pre-Ks that can "Swish, Wipe, and Blot" a paint brush during painting better than some 2nd graders! Pre-K is also made easier by having their lovely assistant Pam with them. She supervises the "DIY" centers while I spend nearly all my time at the project center
Classroom Management
- I use the "Give Me 5" signal to let students know I need their attention.  (Eyes Watching, Ears Listening, Mouth closed, Hands free, Feet still) I do this as soon as I close my door. Students are sitting quietly at their center with hand up or I will not let them begin. I can then check to make sure they are at the correct center.
- I clip color cards to my shirt or apron for whole class behavior and will change them if need be: 
  Green - a good day - no or one warning
  Yellow - okay day - noise and direction reminders
  Red - bad day - lots of noise and direction reminders 
Please refer to this Post for why I do this. 
- Individual behavior problems are warned first and then sent to time out for 5 minutes on the next offense. One trip to time out is usually enough to fix the issue. If not, they go back for longer time and I inform the teacher. 
- For final cleanup the project table will be given damp rags to clean the table if need be and I will ask a helper from each table to bring me the supplies. 
- The table that is the quietest and cleaned up first will line up first, second, and so on. 
- The "Quiet as a Mouse" game is the best one to play when lined up!
- I give them their "Art Mark" when their teacher arrives. 
   I know it may be scary to teach these little ones and we all teach differently. My suggestions may not help some of you, but this method is what works best for me. The best advice I can give is patience. My management methods don't work every single time, but as long as I stick to my plan everything will work out in the end. 

Here are some links to others who have addressed this issue:
Art for Itty Bitties
The Teaching Pallete
In Art Class
Barbara's Thought of the Day


Lori- funart4kids.blogspot.com said...

I appreciate other people as focused on organization and the basic classroom operation rules as I am. So many times I feel like other teachers see me as so overly concerned about the kids listening to our routine in art...but how can you not be that way? I call kids by their colored chairs for jobs, color coded "pirate tables" for other things...I am specific as to which side of the sink the dirty sponges go...but it would be chaos and a mess if I was not so specific. I HAVE SEEN THOSE ART ROOMS and I do not want the disorder! I love the station ideas...we do similar things as well to break things up. So, thanks for the ideas and voice. I keep saying I will post my ORGANIZATION ideas on how to get back to the basics-keep chaos low...gotta get on that! Keep checking in!

Becca Ruth said...

Thanks Lori, I'm getting a student teacher this week and I want her to also understand that those little nit picky things are what makes our class run. Yes you can have great lessons in your pocket. But if you don't have classroom management then you can just kiss that lesson good bye. I too have more organizational ideas. It takes a lot longer to explain those things then it does to explain a lesson. I hope to hear some of your organization soon too.

Olivia said...

Hi my name is Olivia. I love this blog and I too want to be an art teacher when I grow up. I would love it if you'd follow my blog!!:)

Sarah Smith said...

I wish I had found this blog SO LONG AGO!!! I am preparing centers for my K and 1 classes next week (my 1st grade classes were very immature kinders, so I am going to try centers with them too!). Thank you!

lilmiszlee said...

i don't normally leave comments on blogs, but i'm teaching art this year to pre-k and your methods are dead on! This is mostly how I operate my art studio for them because they really don't have that attention span to work for that long. They need that independent time. Also, art related story books also help me when we've finished early because it still relates and they are still learning art concepts. Some books I've used so far: It looked like spilt milk, mouse paint, the art lesson, Leaf Man, The day the crayons quit, perfect square, the Line, Mud and so on. Good job! great article

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