Opening Centers

Here is one sequence for opening centers for the first time. Each “grand opening” happens in one class period. Students need to know that new centers are earned with their good artistic behavior.

1. DRAWING: Introduction of tools, materials, drawing ideas
2. PAINTING: Begin with watercolors or tempera blocks
3. COLLAGE: Introduce tools, materials, papers
4. SCULPTURE/CONSTRUCTION: Start with paper sculpture that connects to collage
5. PRINTMAKING: Start with stamping
6. FIBER ARTS: Start with simplest loom
7. MASKMAKING: The simplest sort, using materials and techniques introduced previously.  Masks can be featured in your collage/construction area if you do not wish to have a separate center
8. DIGITAL ARTS: After brief demo, more experienced students can peer coach classmates
9. CLAY: Save until other centers are underway, as this involves more teacher time to load, fire, and sort bisqueware
A center functions well if:

  • Students can find what they need without your input
  • Students are able to create a wide variety of pieces using the center (not everything is the same)
  • There is adequate space to work in the center OR materials can be easily transported to work tables elsewhere
  • Clean up takes place quickly and materials are put away properly, due to your good directions and organization

Once these centers are functioning well, you can spiral back in to them, offering more complex materials and techniques, as appropriate.  This may vary with your age range.

Take note of the following:
1. Are refreshers and reviews necessary? Make them part of your five minute demonstration at the beginning of the next class.  This can vary according to the observed needs of each class.
2. Are the traffic patterns problematical? Do you need to add or subtract workspace, seating, etc.?
3. Are lots of questions coming from students that could be addressed by better signs or organization in the center?
4. Are some materials or techniques too complex for the beginning of choice?
5. Do you need to limit the number of students in each center, or can you have “overflow” areas in some part of the room?

The teacher manages available choices in the classroom.  Adding and subtracting choices thoughtfully will make for better learning.  Take notes in each class!  Your students will show you what they know and can do; they will show you what you need to teach.