Tuesday, April 10, 2018

What to do with Early Finishers?!

This year I have been working to grow as an art teacher and communicate what I do with parents, staff at my school, and (my ultimate goal) other art teachers!  I've taken to twitter (@catnasser), facebook groups, and most recently I have joined the Art Ed Bloggers Network!!

The Art Ed Bloggers Network is a partnership of art teachers from across the country.  On the second Tuesday of each month, all these amazing teachers blog and post on the same topic.  I am so thrilled to join them! This month we are talking about early finishers, so here we go....

I think this is the age old art teacher dilemma.  On one hand you want to give students something meaningful to work on.  On the other you don't want them to rush through the "real" work 
just so they can get to the "fun" activity.  

And then of course there is the matter of free draw...should you allow it? When do you allow it? Sheesh!

I've broken down my early finisher activities into 3 categories: 
Extensions, Previews, and Open Exploration.

I often try to plan for a follow up lesson as an extension of what we have just finished.

This fall my 4th grade Artovators created Geometric String Art Designs.  Check out my post on this lesson here.   As a fun extension I had students use Spirograph to create designs and then add extra details and colors to them.

 They loved it!

The Preview
The other end of the extensions is the preview.  These tasks can help set the stage for upcoming projects.  A preview can be an art task or a research task.  

3rd grade artists created clay owls this year.  Right before this lesson, I put out pictures of owls and had 3rd grade early finishers focus on creating implied owl textures using drawing materials.

I also used Padlet this year as a preview.  As a lead up to our Rube Goldberg lesson, my 6th grade Artovation classes researched and posted facts, videos, and pictures about simple machines.

Check out our  Rube Goldberg Padlet here!
Made with Padlet

Open Exploration

Finally, I'm always trying to find meaning opportunities for open exploration in the art room.  I've been experimenting with choice boards for a few years.  I have a giant grid set up on the wall.  The grid acts like a menu.  Students can choose from different items to try if they are done early.  Items vary from independent reading from my "student art library", artist trading cards, helping in the artroom, and other exercises to help students work on various art skills.  

I think students enjoy having options and choice, but it definitely took some getting used to in the beginning.  "Wait, can't I just free draw?"

I am also in the process of setting up a small makerspace in my K-2 school that I'm calling The Tinker Lab!  It is going to have a lego center, a cardboard attachments center, and bins of ideas of tasks and open discovery.  Here's a little preview:

Thanks for learning about early finishers with me - make sure to check back for next month's post!

Art Teacher Blogs
This post is a part of The Art Ed Blogger's Network: Monthly Tips and Inspiration from Art Teacher Blogs. On the first Tuesday each month, each of these art teacher blogs will post their best ideas on the same topic.

Participating Art Teacher Blogs:

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