KinderArt® ► Painting | Drawing | Printmaking | Sculpture | Seasons | Recycling | Printables | Art History | More...

Helping Students Understand Human Experience   

Written by: Andrea Mulder-Slater
[Andrea is one of the creators of]

Article First Appeared in Classroom Leadership
Published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
October 2001 | Volume 5 | Number 2

As one of the creators of, I often receive letters from teachers who work in public school systems where the arts are not a priority. Faced with dilemmas like how to raise test scores and how to stretch budgets as far as they can go, school board officials need to make tough decisions.

It is always disturbing to hear of yet another set of district policy makers doing away with arts education in the schools. Trouble is, many hold the misconception that art is a superfluous, isolated subject when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth...

Teaching your students about art is a good idea—here's why:

So, where do you begin? Start by remembering that teaching children about art is not just about showing them how to recognize a van Gogh or Picasso, it's about preparing young minds for a future of invaluable experiences—art related or otherwise.

Making Connections Through Drawing

Drawing is one of the most important activities you and your students can do. Drawing not only provides the basis for other creative activities - like painting, sculpture and printmaking - but it also provides a direct link with reading, writing and especially mathematics. The connection between drawing and geometric shapes and measurements simply cannot be denied. And do you know what else? Drawing is the single most accessible form of art available. All you need is a pencil and a sheet of paper.

Here are some quick art ideas you can implement right away without a lot of preparation or materials:

One of the most important lessons you can teach your students is that more often than not, a mistake is not a mistake—it's a happy accident. Illustrate this idea in an eraser-free art-making session during which students are encouraged change a "mistake" into something else. No erasing allowed! Turn a boat into a sunfish or change a lion into a raspberry bush. Before long, going with the flow will become second nature for your students.

Basic Art Materials Supply List

Paper. Lots of paper: every size, every shape. You can use photocopy paper, newsprint, mural paper, and butcher paper. Even paper grocery bags cut up into squares will do just fine. So will old shirt and cereal boxes.

Pencils. If nothing else, you must have pencils. Nice big fat pencils for little hands and smaller pencils for your "grown up" students.

Crayons. The brighter your crayons are, the better.

Markers. Make sure they are washable for the little ones.

Modeling Material. This can be clay, or even homemade goop—anything that can be formed.

Pastels. Try to have both chalk and oil pastels on hand. Chalk pastels should be reserved for your older students while the oil pastels can be introduced to the younger set.

Scissors. Provide safety scissors and adult assistance for the tiny ones.

Glue. Just a small container of glue is all you need, or you can make your own with flour and water.

Paint & Brushes. You will be most pleased with water-base paints (tempera or watercolor) and brushes from small (¼") to large (1"). Here's a tip: Make clean up easier by adding a few drops of dish soap to your paints.

Found Objects. You can use buttons, beads, stamps, thread, and so on in many an art project.

Also See



Here are some resources to help back up the argument that the arts are a necessary part of learning...

Enrich Learning with Discipline-Based Art Education

Arts on the Outs

How Important are the Arts in Our Schools?

National Art Education Association

National Association for Music Education

Art Teaching Resources:




Marilyn's Imagination Factory:

The Incredible Art Department:


Would you like to submit an article or opinion regarding art education and creativity? Send it to us at

This content has been printed from:

Click here for more art lesson plans

Free newsletter:

[an error occurred while processing this directive]