Art in the classroom

When my daughter was in elementary school, the PTA purchased a program called Art Vistas that brought classic works of art into the classroom and encouraged kids to explore their creativity.

It was tailor made for me! I couldn’t wait to volunteer for it, but for two years someone else beat me to it. I was so disappointed. Sure, there were other things I could do to help out, but I studied art history in college, for heaven’s sake, I wanted that job!

My daughter was in third grade when I finally got it. I split the role with another mom and we had a great time.


The program they purchased included a lesson in Art History and an Art Project that focused on a specific aspect of design or color theory. There were 2D and 3D projects to make, as well as a variety of mediums to try. Each grade had a different theme with different works showcased so there was never a repeat. There were 6 lessons per year and at the end we put on a big Art Show so the students could show off their work.

It was the best volunteer experience! I would prepare by reading through the history lesson and pulling the works of art to showcase from a giant (organized) pile of them in a supply closet. One lesson included telling the stories of artists behind the old masters to illustrate a lesson in portraiture, followed by having the kids pair up and draw each other. Another lesson highlighted the bold colors and shapes of abstract artists and the kids used oil pastels to create their own. We learned about landscapes, the rule of three, shadow, contrast, pointillism, Georgia O’Keefe, Jackson Pollack and much more.

I had the best time working with the kids and seeing them explore their artsy side. One of my proudest volunteer moments came when I asked a class full of 5th graders if they had a favorite artist and almost every single one of them did. It honestly brought tears to my eyes.

Art is this secretly amazing, mind-expanding experience. It seems like everyone recognizes this in pre-school, but as kids grow up there’s suddenly no time for it.

What’s worse, it becomes something they “can’t” do.

“I’m bad at art” is one of those statements that kids (and adults) make that makes absolutely no sense. The term “Art” is so inclusive that everyone can, truly, do wonderful things.  Remember this scene from the Princess Diaries?

SERIOUSLY – you can create Art.

Take the challenge this week — Don’t take yourself too seriously, make a mess, and have a little fun!

P.S. If you haven’t seen that movie in a while, you really should watch it again!


One thought on “Art in the classroom

  1. yes, kids do need to be inspired. took mine to a local art show last weekend – its great when they start wondering if they can do those kind of paintings, too. I’m always making a mess – talent or not. 🙂

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