Preparing an Art in the Classroom program


|  Scheduling Your Program

To schedule your Art in the Classroom program, you should send an e-mail to your classroom teacher at the beginning of the month for which you have volunteered to work out a day and time that make sense for both of you.  When scheduling, keep the following general parameters in mind:

Ÿ       Programs should be kept to one hour

Ÿ       Programs should not be scheduled during the language arts instruction block

Ÿ       Please be as flexible as possible and respectful of the teacher’s scheduling preferences

When you have settled on a day and time for your program, please let your classroom coordinator know when it is scheduled and what artist you will be covering.  It would also be helpful to send the teacher an e-mail reminder at the beginning of the week that your program is scheduled.

|  Choosing an artist

The first step in planning your program is to choose the artist you will be covering.  The ASFS Art in the Classroom curriculum has established a list of artists to be presented at each grade level.  To see the lists of artists for each grade level, go back to the main Art in the Classroom page and click on “Curriculum: Artists & Projects.”  Make sure that you confer with your classroom coordinator in choosing an artist so that you know what artists have already been taught in your child’s classroom. 

Can I choose an artist from another grade level or one not on any of the lists?

We appreciate the desire to teach an artist one knows a lot about or is particularly excited about—there are so many wonderful artists that kids would enjoy learning about!  However, we would really prefer that you stick to the lists for the grade level you are teaching.  We have designed the Art in the Classroom curriculum with care and in conjunction with Ms. Arnett with the goal of giving ASFS students a basic level of “cultural literacy” in the visual arts.  However… if you feel strongly about departing from the curriculum for a particular program, please contact Leslie Spitalney at to talk about your ideas.  Thanks!









|  Preparing your artist “chat”

The first 10-15 minutes of your program should consist of a “chat” with the students about the artist you are presenting.  You should think of this part of your program as a “conversation” that you are facilitating rather than a “presentation” that you are giving.  The goal of this program is to give kids exposure, not to make them experts.  Give the kids lots of chances to share their thoughts and impressions.

You do not need to know anything about art!!!

We cannot emphasize enough that Anyone can present an Art in the Classroom program.  You do not need to know anything about artists or art.  With a little bit of reading, you can quickly learn enough to create an interesting 10-15  minute conversation with the kids.  If you are asked a question you don’t know the answer to, say you don’t know.  Ask the kids for their ideas.






The “artist chat” should introduce the children to basic facts about the artist and his or her art.  Don’t get bogged down in too many biographical details—focus on the art and what is interesting and/or significant about it.  In your “chat,” try to cover as much of the following as time permits:

Ÿ       Name of the artist (write it down and have the kids pronounce it)

Ÿ       BRIEF biography (Where is the artist from? When did he/she live? How did he/she come to be an artist?)

Ÿ       Evolution of his/her art

Ÿ       What is significant/interesting/unique about his/her art?

a picture is worth 1,000 words…

Especially in art!  The kids will be much more engaged in the conversation if they can see the art you are talking about.  Show pictures of various artworks as you are talking and ask the kids for their impressions of what they are seeing.  Unless you want to prepare a power point presentation with images off the web (which is NOT NECESSARY!), the big art books you get at the library with color photos of the artists’ work are the best source of pictures.   You should also use a poster from the PTA closet if there is one on your artist, but do not rely on this poster as your only visual.









To get information about the artist and photographs of his or her work, the central library on Quincy St. is a great place to start.  On the second floor, they have a good collection of books on artists with images of their work.  The ASFS library also has some books on artists, and we are working with Ms. Regan to build this collection.  You can also get a lot of information on the artist from the Internet, but you will still need to gather some library books so that you will have images of the artist’s work to show and discuss.  Remember to get a poster from the PTA closet on your artist as an additional visual for your program.

Some examples please?

There is no one right way to approach these “artist chats”—the children benefit from the different personalities and ideas of all of our wonderful parents.  But if you would like some examples of how a “chat” might be put together, click the links below.  Eventually, we hope to have examples of “chats” for all of the artists in the curriculum on this website.  Here’s a couple to start with:

Georgia O’Keefe

Pierre-Auguste Renoir











|  Leading your art project

The majority of your time with the children should be devoted to leading them in a hands-on art project that will allow them to experiment with the style or techniques of the artist.  Suggestions for projects are provided on the “Curriculum” page where the artists for each grade level are listed.  Feel free, however, to come up with your own project.  If you would like to talk about ideas for a project, e-mail Leslie Spitalney at  Ms. Arnett has also said that she would be happy to talk about project ideas (not during her classroom time of course!).

You will need to bring all supplies to the classroom that will be needed for your project, except items such as pencils and scissors that are already on hand in the classroom.  For detailed information on how to access supplies for your program, go back to the main Art in the Classroom page and click on “Supplies.”

In thinking about preparing for your artist project, keep the following in mind:

Ÿ       You are responsible for set-up and clean-up (more on this below)

Ÿ       As the kids are working, be encouraging and positive and allow for “creative” interpretations of the project (As long as they are within the general focus of the project, let the kids approach things in their own way).  There is no “wrong” art!

Ÿ       Watch the time!  The program should not take more than an hour of classroom time.

Set-up and clean-up

As for set-up, you should arrive 15-20 minutes before the start time of your program and set up what you can without disturbing the class (e.g. fill cups with water for painting, lay out supplies on desks if kids are on the carpet).  As for clean-up, this program should operate on the same basic principles as “no trace camping.”  You come, you go, and the only evidence of your having been there should be some beautiful art.  Tables should be wiped, paintbrushes should be cleaned with soap and water and squeezed dry, etc.  The kids should help with clean-up.  All supplies from the Art in the Classroom supply cabinet should be returned to their proper place on your way out.









|  Displaying the art

Let’s see it!!!  Kids, parents and teachers at ASFS all enjoy seeing the beautiful art that has been created displayed on the walls of the school.  Please ask the teacher at the end of the program if there is room in the hallway outside of the classroom to display the art.  If it is dry and you have time, it would be great if you could stay to help hang the art on the walls.  You or the teacher might be able to make a little sign for the display that says “Artwork inspired by [artist]” or something like that. 

Brighten up the apc

We are on the lookout for art that we can frame and hang on the walls of the Arlington Pediatric Center (APC).  Consider whether the art produced through your program might be a good fit.  For more information, go to the “Community Service” link on the Art in the Classroom main page.






|  feedback

So that we can continue to improve Art in the Classroom at ASFS, some feedback on your program would be much appreciated!  Nothing formal, just send a quick e-mail to your classroom coordinator letting him/her know how things went.


Thank you for your time and energy!