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Planning, Preparing, and Completing an Art Lesson 



Here is a guide to take you from planning to completing your first art lesson. 


A great place to start is to schedule a meeting with your teacher. Ask what art projects have been successful in the classroom in past years. One teacher might really love painting projects, while another may prefer to base projects off famous pieces of art. Also, ask if there are any specific projects the teacher wants to repeat (…or never do again!). This is especially important for projects tied to specific holidays (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day). 

This will also give you and your teacher an opportunity to see what days and times work best to hold monthly lessons. The Art and Science Room can be scheduled by your teacher via Ann Glassey.  Make sure to buffer your time slot by at least a half an hour before and after to allow for set up and clean up. 



Art project inspiration can come from many sources.  

  • Curriculum – Is the class studying insects this year? Tie a lesson into it! 
  • The time of year – Projects based on the seasons are a great place to start, especially in fall with all the beautiful colors in nature. 
  • Famous works of art or artists – Have the class make their own Matisse cut paper collages or interpretation of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.  
  • Specific art techniques or design elements – A lesson can focus on shading, contrast, primary colors, etc. 
  • Mother’s or Father’s Day – Check with your teacher to see what their plans are for these special days. 
  • Books – Favorite books are a great source of inspiration.  
  • Ask other Docents for ideas and suggestions - A lot of docents have done this before and can help by suggesting projects. 
  • Also, be sure to check out the resources available on the PTSA website: 

It’s essential to practice your lesson beforehand, using all the same materials and processes that you will be when instructing the students. If you can complete the lesson in 10-15 minutes, that will end up about the correct length for younger grades (K-2). Older grades (3-5) can handle more complex lessons, but if you can’t complete it in an hour, likely they won’t be able to either. It may be helpful to have some examples of the project in process. 

Some projects may take more than one session to complete. That is fine. Try to do the messier portion of the lesson, like painting, in the Art Room, and once the projects are dry, complete the lesson either in the Art Room or classroom. Often, you can finish up the projects a few students at a time either in the back of the classroom or in a pod. 

Once you have figured out what your lesson entails, make sure to do any prep work that will help things run smoothly on the day of. Prepare papers – cut larger pieces, if needed, and count out how much you’ll use for each student in the class, plus a small buffer for mistakes (you don’t want to stop to the lesson to go cut something in half with the paper cutter!). Ensure the art room has all the supplies you want to use available and in good working order. If something is missing, contact the Art Supplies Chair for ordering. Don’t wait until the last minute! 

It’s a good idea to have an activity prepared for students that finish their work early. This could be a themed word search, or as simple as drawing paper and pencils. 

Finally, if you have art helpers, make sure you know how they can help, or if you’re co-teaching a lesson, ensure you are both on the same page. 


Plan to arrive at least half an hour before the lesson is slated to begin, to give yourself time to tidy the room, set up the tables and chairs how you’d like, and set out materials. For younger students, it’s better to keep pencils, scissors, rolling pins, and other distracting items up front to be passed out when needed.  

Introduce yourself, your helpers, and the lesson. Show the famous work of art, draw elements on the white board, or explain the art principle (ex. complimentary colors). Show at least one example of the completed project. Engage the class by asking questions related to the project. Relax and have fun with it! 

When instructing the lesson, it may be helpful to give instructions out in sections, especially for younger classes. Instruct children on the first few steps, give them some time to complete them, and then bring attention back to the front of the class for further instruction once most children have finished. Balance waiting for everyone to be done versus keeping the class calm and focused. The teacher will be present as well, and will help you keep things running smoothly. Make sure to get names on projects, too. 

Keep an eye on the time and don’t worry if things aren’t going exactly as planned. If you thought your lesson would take 30 minutes to finish and at 20 minutes, the class is still working on step 2, that’s okay. Complete as much as you can, and plan for you or an art helper to come back another day to finish up. You, your helpers, and the teacher will also be circulating the room to help students when needed. 

Try to finish your lesson with five minutes remaining so students can help clean up their workspace and materials if they haven’t already. Thank students for coming! 


Place each student’s project on the drying rack, if needed. Put away all materials and supplies in their designated spot in the room. Save any large scraps of construction paper in the scrap sorter – these come in handy for other projects! Throw away any trash and recycle unusable paper scraps. Wipe down the tables if needed (especially after clay), push in chairs, and if the lesson was extra messy, sweep the floor. Try to leave the room tidier than when the class entered. Also, return the tables to the setup preferred by Music, please. 

If a student was absent and the teacher wishes to have them make up the project, set aside the necessary materials and any examples, and take to the classroom for them to complete at a later time. 


Once the projects are dry and completed fully, it’s time to display them! Mount each project to a piece of construction paper and clearly label with the student’s name. Hang the finished artwork in your teacher’s designated spot in the hallway using white tape.  

It’s a good idea, while the project is still fresh in your mind, to write a short summary of it so it can be displayed alongside the artwork during Art Night. 

Before putting up a new project, remove the prior month’s artwork and store in a container in the classroom or pod (check with your teacher for their preference), as it will be displayed again during Art Night. 

After Art Night, collect all artwork into a folder/book/bag to be sent home at the end of the year. Coordinate with your teacher, as some teachers like to create a memory book that contains not only Art Docent projects but classroom projects as well. 


Questions? Your Co-VPs are happy to help! Email art@mannptsa.org


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Horace Mann Elementary
17001 N.E. 104th St.
Redmond, WA 98052
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