Every Classroom Needs an Art Cart

With budget cuts and time constraints, art lessons are often in the first list of things to disappear from school schedules.  However, I would argue that this should never be the case. Art has a way of reaching even the most reluctant and struggling learners and can help strengthen classroom community, build language skills, and develop problem-solving skills.

So in an effort to help save the often dying arts, I am joining with others in the Elmer’s Bag it Forward program and donating a virtual bag of school art supplies to Miss Brave’s class in NYC.

Here’s the info you need to join in the fun:

This Back to School season, Elmer’s is celebrating it’s every day low pricing on back to school supplies at Walmart by partnering with Adopt-A-Classroom to help make a difference in classrooms across the country.

Elmer’s will donate up to $10,000 to Adopt-A-Classroom with your participation. Join now!

The Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward is charity blog meme, bloggers are able to raise $10 per blog post for Adopt-A-Classroom by writing a blog post and donating a virtual bag of school supplies . Elmer’s will donate $10 per each post written to Adopt-A-Classroom, up to $10,000.

HOW CAN YOU JOIN? It’s easy.

  • Participate in the Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward and by giving away a virtual bag of school supplies and creating a blog post with specific rules described below.
  • Elmer’s will donate up to $10,000 to Adopt-A-Classroom.
  • You can give as many virtual bags as you want.
  • The Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward will officially begin at 12 AM EST on July 22, 2010 and end at 12 PM EST on August 12, 2010. Blog posts submitted to us before or after that time period will not be counted.
  • The blog post link has to be submitted in the comment section below for your participation to be counted.
  • In addition copy and paste the following text into your blog post:


  • Copy and paste these rules into your blog post.
  • Create a blog post giving a “virtual bag of school supplies” to other bloggers or write about your Back to School shopping trip at Walmart.
  • Link back to the person who gave you a bag of school supplies.
  • Let each person you are giving a virtual bag of school supplies know you have given them a bag.
  • Leave your link in the Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward comment section. You can also find the official rules of this virtual #bagitforward program there.
  • Elmer’s is donating $10 for each blog participating in the Virtual Bag It Forward Donation to Adopt-A-Classroom (up to total of $10,000 for blog posts written by August 12, 2010).

Be sure to check out the Elmer’s teachers page, too, for additional resources and ideas for great projects to use in your classroom this year.

Examples, Assessments, and Free Materials… Oh my!

Visual literacy K-8 is a website for “classroom teachers who are interested in helping children to read and write information, both print and electronic.” It provides a variety of examples of how to use visual literacy in the classroom as well as how to assess students’ visual literacy. Visual literacy examples, resource lists, and free materials for teachers are some of its other offerings.

Great site! I highly recommend this one if you are looking for ways to incorporate more visual literacy into your daily classroom activities.

More Power to You

Sally L. Smith, Founder/Director of The Lab School of Washington, D.C.  (a school she founded and designed in 1967 for intelligent children and adults with learning disabilities), wrote this book to share her vision of what education is really all about. She believed everyone can learn and designed some innovative teaching approaches involving all the art forms and experiential education.

The Power of the Arts: Creative Strategies for Teaching Exceptional Learners is a great read if you are looking for ways to incorporate visual literacy into your lessons and/or reach those challenging students who often do not seem to be able to learn in traditional ways.

Being Art Smart

In her book Creating Meaning Through Literature and the Arts, literacy professor Claudia Cornett (2003) presents ten effects of visual arts on learning and motivation as a rationale for why teachers should integrate art into their curriculum:

1. Art activates emotions and motivates.

2. Art is a way of communicating through visual and spatial symbols.

3. Art is a means of thinking through the senses.

4. Art develops esthetic sensitivity.

5. Art develops higher-order thinking skills and creative problem-solving capabilities.

6. Art strengthens self-understanding and confidence about being unique.

7. Art promotes respect for diversity.

8. Art develops responsibility, focus, concentration, and self-discipline.

9. Art reflects life, so it naturally integrates all curricular areas.

10. Art is a way to assess. (p. 156-161)

Cornett, C. E. (2003). Creating meaning through literature and the arts: An integration resource for classroom teachers (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Finding the Artist Within

To really unleash the power of art and visual literacy in the classroom, students need to see themselves as both successful artists and art critics. If you have students who frequently say, “I can’t” when it comes to art, share this book by Peter Reynolds.

I appreciate his way of giving a gentle nudge to reluctant artists and encouraging people to feel free to express themselves. This story reminds us to “Make your mark and see where it takes you.”

Activities and other info can be found at this link.

Thinking Like an Artist

This is another great resource for incorporating art into the curriculum. I have adapted activities from this book for use with students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Hands-on experiences with art and quick peeks into the minds of the great masters provide students with an introduction to thinking like an artist and a new perspective as they view other works of art.

Art Lessons and Literature

I love to encourage my students to discuss and participate in art whenever possible. Teaching Art with Books Kids Love by Darcie Clark Frohardt is full of great ideas for using children’s literature as a jumping off point for a variety of art lessons.