I have found that even though making art is sometimes an active physical activity it doesn't hurt to define the time or enhance the mood for creativity. Whether you are an Art-on-a-cart Instructor or the lone Classroom Teacher, below are a few simple extras that will allow you to utilize your environment to the creative max! It is never to late in the year to give this process a try, but starting it sooner, is all the better. And if your students are in their teens you can probably bet that they need to practice this simple ritual even more then the little ones do.
We all know that rules and regulations are what school is all about and breaking the rules and thinking outside the box is what creativity/art is all about. But how can you go about accomplishing both without loosing control of your audience? I have found that as a facilitator of creativity, ritual around the artmaking process, is itself a key. "Oh no," I can hear you think, "more work for me!" Well, yes and no. A little bit of extra effort in the beginning, will provide you with major payoffs later on. Especially if you are going to be working with these children for more than one year.Objectives:
Creating the mood of creativity in the classroom.What You Do:
Any kind of small electric simmering pot is great. Don't go out and buy anything expensive, keep it simple and cheep. Place the pot on a ceramic tile slightly larger then the pot and then place them both on the surface where it will sit, fill the pot with water, add 6-10 whole cloves and a couple of cinnamon sticks, plug it in and you're good to go! Don't get fancy fragrances, you don't always know who has has allergies! Through years of trial and error, I have found that this simple and inexpensive apple pie combination perfect for the job.
As for the CD player, sound IS important! Ideally classical music has been hailed as the most creatively stimulating, but it also varies greatly in tempo and what you need to create is an air of safe ambiance. I am avidly promoting the Windham Hill, Narada samplers or other such New Age music collections. This sound should stay softly in the background, and because it is usually unfamiliar to children, there is not a lot of argument about what tune to play next.
Well, now that the hard parts are over introduce the day's task, oversee your budding students progress and remember to keep the negatives out the door. And that goes for YOU TOO! During the creative process there is no such thing as "that's wrong, too bad", "you shouldn't" and "do it again!" Just let the students collect all of their "oops'" and have them cut, tear or disassemble them into a new work of art at the end of the term by creating a recycled collage or greeting cards. After all that's what artists really do. Remember if some students are having a bad day let them repeat the Negative 15 Second ritual, one at a time, by having them step outside the door while you monitor them and the 15 seconds. This allows the already engaged students to continue their work.Recommended Books/Products: A Survival Kit for the Elementary/Middle School Art Teacher