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Back to School Ideas

I am not quite ready to go back to school yet and I am guessing you are not ready either.  But, the Art Ed Blogger’s Network is here to help you start planning!  Our topic this month is the “first week of school”.

AEBN Start of School Year 20186.jpg

A few years ago, I compiled a huge list of tips for the first days of school.  These tips were submitted by art teachers all over the world.  This gigantic list of tips will help you get started.

Tips for the First Day of School in Art Class

On another blog post, I shared a list of books that are perfect for the first days of school in art class.

Books for the First Day of Art Class

I like to do some easy, “getting to know you” back to school ideas.  These patterned letters are a fun way to ease into the school year.  I also enjoy teaching name design projects, similar to this gridded name design or with doodled letters.

First Initial of Name Art Project

On the first day of school, one activity is an  “I Had Art Today!”  picture.  Students can draw a self-portrait of themselves as an artist or they can just draw whatever they would like.  It’s a quick assessment of where the child starts at the beginning of the year.  You can see the skill level of each child that comes to your class.  To get the free download, visit my shop.   See this blog post for more details and examples.

For older kids, folded “about me” books are a fun way to start the year.

This year, I am planning on starting the year by reading some books about kindness.  I have a collaborative art project in mind that I think will go along well with this book and I am playing around with how it might work.

I have been collecting a bunch of books with the theme of kindness, which I will soon share in a future blog post.  In the meantime, you can check out Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler! (affiliate link has been used.)

Sometimes I like to do a back-to-school bulletin board that is made up of pieces of art from students.  Here is one we did “Welcome to our School”  with fish pictures.

2013-08-28 21.45.51

Here is another one we did “Reach for the Stars”.

Back to School bulletin boardBucky Badger Sculptures

From the official website, 


Bucky on Parade is a free public art event featuring 85 life-size Bucky Badger statues throughout Madison and Dane County May 7­–September 12, 2018. Local and regional artists have transformed these Bucky statues into unique works of art.”

All over where I live are these cool painted Bucky Badger (the university’s mascot) statues.  As part of my summer art challenge, the kids are supposed to find Bucky Badger sculptures and take selfies with them.  I am going to make a bulletin board of all the photos when we return to school.  I am also going to challenge the students to design their own Bucky image.  I have done this before with my students when painted cow statues were on display in Madison.  I give them a template to trace on a large piece of thick paper.  Then, they can paint their own colorful and unique design on the shape of Bucky.  Maybe if you have something interesting going on in your community, you can tie in an art lesson with that!

Starting on Tuesday, other bloggers will also be sharing their favorite back-to-school ideas.  Be sure to check them all out!

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

Participating Art Teacher Blogs:

Further Resources

If you liked these ideas, you may like some of the other handouts and ideas from my shop!

6 Art Lessons to Start the Year Right!

Getting to Know You Handouts

Getting to Know You Handouts

My Art ABC Sketchbook

About Me Foldable Squash Book with Video

Art History Folded Petals with Personal Responses

Back to School Sunglasses: What I Did This Summer

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About Marcia Beckett

Marcia is an elementary art teacher and loves painting, drawing, sculpture, art journaling and clay. Her blog, Art is Basic, features many exciting art projects for kids.

2 Responses to Back to School Ideas

  1. Gaye Powell says:

    This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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