Or maybe I should call this post "The Big Spill".
The sponge is one of my art room "must-haves".
I just finished my first (wonderful) day with kids and now have been reading stuff on other blogs about organization and cleanup, and am a bit puzzled/surprised about the extreme differences in our ways. Let me say now: I'm a gal who is NOT afraid of big mess. As a matter of fact, the ONLY mess that scares me is that left by glitter. It creeps me out, by the way it reappears... and reappears... days after you've used it. So glitter has been banned from my room for many years (though we do use glitter-glue, and I love other sparkly shiny stuff). But every other art material is welcome, and I especially love papier-mache, plaster bandage, and large tempera paintings.
I order LOTS of sponges every year, and I have a big basin full of them at all times. The kids all know that they have to SQUEEZE all excess water out of the sponge prior to washing tables or "we will have a flood and the room will fill with sharks, fish, whales,and octopi" (everyone giggles here). The kids also know that if paint spills on the floor they need to tell me IMMEDIATELY and I will show them how to clean it up (SCOOP with the sponge; wash out the sponge; repeat), but will not get upset about it. After all, it's an art room, and everything (kid included) is washable. As a matter of fact, a popular phrase in my room, when there is a paint accident is "it's OK, I'm washable!" This is because I've told the kids that they were made to be washable so they could come to art class. Sometimes we cover the tables with newspapers when we paint, but more often, we do not, since everything will wash off the tables anyhow and the kids love cleaning them! We do cover the tables for papier-mache or plaster bandage, and sometimes if we'll be messy with glue, and then we can just roll up the messy paper and the table is (almost) clean underneath.
My students are required to have their own art shirts, that are stored in their cubbies in their classroom. I send a letter home about this every year, and explain (to parents) that if they cannot provide, they should contact me and the "Art Shirt Fairy" will deliver a shirt to the child's room. If a child is irresponsible about bringing his art shirt, I may exclude them from messy activities (in particular papier-mache, acrylic paints, and thick rich tempera). If this seems mean, realize that it's no different than telling the student who forgets his sneakers that he cannot participate in phys. ed. classes. It's all about responsibility. I know some of you have smocks in your room that you use for everyone, but not me. I do not like clothing sharing for hygiene reasons (for example - HEAD LICE). And my tables are rather high for the younger kids, since they were originally from the middle school art room, so when they paint they tend to lean over them.
ANYHOW. Several of you talked about using place-mats when painting and I was befuddled by this. What kind of place-mats are these and how big are they? (Are they paper, or plastic, or what?) Using place-mats must mean that all painting is done on small paper? (I love 18"x 24", bigger than most place-mats.) Don't the tables need washing anyhow, from containers of paint, water dishes, paint mixing, drips, etc? I hope those of you who use place-mats can clarify this stuff for me. Maybe I'm really missing the boat somewhere...
Speaking of mess - we've all seen those cool projects using shaving cream for marbling. I tried it out the other day and it's great. But everyone who has posted these lessons has spread the shaving cream on a tray of some sort. Based on my trial run, I'm going to spread it directly ON THE TABLES. The great thing is, when you are done and sponge it up, it also cleans the tables!!
Also, a lot of you have talked about making student folders for organization, but I don't have a folder for each child, especially since a lot of work is 3-D, or relatively large. Also, after work is displayed, I generally send most of it home, saving some for special displays. Some work even goes home immediately if it is not going to get hung up. I can't imagine storing everyone's work from all year. We crank out a LOT of art over the space of a year, and I'm afraid my art room would overflow and then the film crew from Hoarders would arrive.
OK, I've rattled on enough. I've been getting lots of messages lately from people asking me to get their message out on the blog, but I'm not dealing with it tonight. Too much I should be doing. So if you are waiting for my response, be patient please. And if this is your first week back in school, I hope your start is as good as my day was today!
One last quick question though - our staff spent Tuesday in training for an anti-bullying program we're going to be using. It was an interesting day but overwhelming day, and I'm wondering how it has worked for other districts. Is anyone out there in bloggy-land using the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program? If so, what do you think?
Thanks everyone! Happy Weekend!!