First Week of School Art Activities

Instructor: Grace Pisano

Grace has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in teaching. She previously taught high school in several states around the country.

Use these activities to help you learn about your middle and high school art students. These activities are meant to introduce students to art concepts and set the foundation to build a community in your classroom.

Introducing Art

Regardless of subject taught, most first week of school activities have them same goals: learn about the students in your class, set expectations for the year and begin to create relationships. The great thing about art in middle and high school is that it is usually a class students have chosen to take, so they are excited to be there. These activities will help students get excited for the year and learn classroom procedures. Use one or all of these activities with your students during the first week (or weeks!) of school.

Name Art

For this activity, students will be creating a name card in a creative way. This is something that they could make to put on their desk, the cover of their sketchbook, a bulletin board, etc. The instructions for this are simple - students should fill a piece of card stock with their name and decorative artwork that describes them. The open-ended nature of this project allows you to see what students are interested in, allows students to explore the different resources available in your class and work on class procedures.

As students decide what materials to use, they will learn the locations of these things within your class. Be sure to stop students with ample time to clean up. Although you should go over cleaning procedures before doing this activity, this is a great way for students to practice the routine.

Once they are finished, allow students to share their creations. Alternatively, they could write a brief description of how they chose to decorate their name on the back of the paper.

  • Materials Needed: Card stock, various art supplies (markers, rulers, scissors, magazines, crayons, paint, etc.)

Collaborative Art

For this activity, students will work both individually and collectively to make a piece of collaborative art for the classroom. Although there are many variations to this, one plan is outlined below.

Give each student two squares of paper that are the same size. One square should be white and the other paper should be a color. You may want to have all colors in the class be the same or use different colored and designed scrapbook paper that goes well together.

Each student will create a ''quilt square'' by cutting designs and angles in their piece of colored paper. They will then glue the pieces of the colored paper onto the white paper. Their designs should all be unique.

Once students are done, arrange the squares on the wall or bulletin board. Each unique square will contribute to the overall design of the ''quilt.''

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