January 30, 2011

Teaching Clean Up

There are two kinds of art teachers. The clean ones (you know the marker and crayon kind) and messy ones (the paper mache, clay, and painting kind.) I must be the third kind. . . we get messy to make art but we also try to keep the room clean and organized to be able to be creative. Sounds simple but making peace with both teachers inside me is a struggle. So I need help. Student help.

In my first few years teaching I dove head first into messy projects. I thought anything that wasn't a hands on experience was a waste of time. I packed in project after project only to find myself staying until 8:00 to clean it all up!

This year, I got serious about clean up. I had to. I was pregnant! I knew I wouldn't be able to do it myself and I needed the kids. In the very beginning of this year, I taught the students explicitly how to clean up. We modeled, demonstrated, and then practiced. We even practiced how to put on our smocks, fold them and put them away (all without even touching paint.) Just learning how to put on a smock and put it away took 15 minutes! I would've thought this a colossal waste of time in my first years teaching. But my heart almost jumped out of my chest when I saw these first graders folding their smocks and putting them away with care and without any prompting when they finished their paintings. I had to take a picture to commemorate the moment!

Two more weeks until maternity leave (maybe) and I want kids to take pride in our space. So this week, it's time to demonstrate, model, and practice clean up procedures. I know the messy creative part of me is going to be screaming to get one last BIG project in, but my neat and organized side is going to have to win this week.

Got any great clean up tips? That should be the topic of our next exchange!


Mrs. Art Teacher said...

Sigh I know it is wasteful but to expedite our clean-up we "wash" our hands with $1 tree wipes and after we wipe our hands we wipe our table space with the same wipe and toss it on the way out the door. We have also switched to paper plates and for the kinder and some 1st grade projects we paint with Q-tips. I can get 30 kids to paint a project and cleaned up in under 22 min with this method.

taramarie88 said...

I am also the third kind. The custodian marvels at how clean I keep the room...I stay till about 6pm every Friday just to make sure my room isn't a huge mess on Monday morning. I am lucky to have a sink in my room BUT I do not allow the kids to turn it on. On painting days I simply fill a huge bowl with warm soapy water, leave it in the sink. The kids line up after putting their papers on the drying rack, dip their hands, rub them together while they count to 10. (The bowl is so big that 3 kids can put their hands in it at the same time.) Grab a paper towel to wipe off any remaining paint and dry their hands. Then they get a squirt of hand sanitizer on their way out the door. We practiced a lot now we can get the whole class done in under ten minutes!

Unknown said...

I think I should turn off the sink too! Making a line at the sink was totally forgotten last week and two people were crowding the stool in more than one class. Besides I need the sink to stay open for the paintbrush washer. I have 4 sinks BUT 3 are automatic and go into a big trough that makes huge splashes. I turned them off or else there is a puddle in my room everyday.

I use paper plates too. I'm on our Green Team but it's paper at least not plastic! All the water to clean the plates would probably be worse.

Mrs. Hahn said...

You are cute! I agree... teaching cleaning is part of the job we have as art teachers. I hope you are feeling OK. The last couple of weeks can be hard. Please share your big news when baby comes around!

Paintedpaper said...

My big lifesaver is 18 x 24 tagboard placemats. They keep the tables clean and the students wipe their brushes on the placemat- to clean them or change colors.

We use NO water when painting. Students are trained at an early age start with the lightest color paint first then go to the darker colors. The paints are organized in the egg cartons this way too.This keeps the paints brighter and keeps the tempera paint looking crisp!

When students are done painting they put their brushes in the "dirty dishes" sink. There is always a little bucket for the brushes in the sink. Students never wash brushes out. I can do it much more quickly and properly.

I use egg cartons for paint. The paint does not dry out and the containers last for 3-4 weeks. (To keep the paints fresh I refill for the next class.) Students are told not to paint in the lids because the paint dries and falls into the fresh paint.

My big drying rack holds 1 full day of painting so that too is a lifesaver.

I store all class projects in color coded numbered and scheduled days. So all the classes for that day come out in the morning and I then just grab the projects through out the day.

Everything has a storage bin. and everything is color organized.

Yes I am a hoarder of stuff but it is pretty easy to find. Hope this helps!

Mrs. Erb said...

I assign table jobs.
For example, the red table collects all of the work and puts it in the drying rack, yellow table collects/dumps/refils water bowls, purple table wipes down the tables with sponges, etc. Clean up is done in under 10 minutes. once that is done, then students can wash hands. it works really well.

Unknown said...

Mrs. Hahn: I will let you know! I'm so excited I can barely stand it. Thank god I have my job to keep me distracted or else I'd drive everyone nuts.
Painted Paper: Any advice on painting from you I'll take! You're paintings are so vibrant with the kids (used the no wash method today and the results were beautiful! I know I said no more messy projects but I didn't win. I couldn't help myself. ) Wish my drying rack was BIGGER by the end of the day the last class left their painting on the tables (no more room.) I have the same class storage system.
Ms. Papanikoloa: I'm having a "why didn't I think of that!" moment. That way you can teach each table a job instead of the whole class! I love this. Going to have to change my system to try this! Thanks!

Phyl said...

I'm totally struck by the differences in the way we do things. I love Painted Paper's vibrant paintings, but I can't imagine painting w/out water.
We use little round sponges at the tables, to "wipe, wash, wipe" when changing colors. The kids learn to wipe the brush in the direction of the bristles so they don't ruin them (I compare it to petting a cat - don't do it in the wrong direction or you might get bit!). I feel it's important for kids to learn how to wash brushes. Depending on what we're doing, I frequently assign brush-washers who complete the brush cleaning at the sink, and then lay them on a newspaper-covered tray to dry. Wet brushes don't go back in the with the clean ones - that way I can double check, plus the moisture doesn't soak into the brush and loosen the glue holding the ferrule.

I use disposeable paint cups for 1 day projects, and for extended projects we use plastic Solo cups with lids. The paints last a long way this way.

Surprisingly, I've worked it out so that papier-mache is one of the EASIEST things to clean up. I think the worst to clean up is oil pastel!

Unknown said...

Brushes are not my strong point. I trust the kids to wash them out because they love it and have more patience then me.

In fact after the kids washing them out three separate times today (I painted with 4 classes I know I said I wouldn't but I couldn't help myself I had a really fun lesson) I left the brushes in a cup of water after the last class (I gave up). Now there is a snow day tomorrow so my poor brushes will be worse then they were before.

Paintedpaper said...

Thought I would elaborate about the painting. I teach them to keep the paint on the tip of the brush, never let the paint get to the metal or the "shirt" of the brush,
We talk about petting the dog "Back and forth" never being rough! I love the cat might bite! LOL

So when they brush on the placemat they are cleaning them before the next color choice. My classes are back to back no time in between and are 40 minutes long so I have no time for long clean up. I usually have 3 minutes to clean, get classes out while the other students are walking in.

When I rise the brushes the brushes are pretty clean from the students painting any extra paint on the placemats. I know they could rise I have done that in the previous years but I had enough spilled water, ruined projects that this works great for me. I paint with all classes everyday. I will have to try the sponge. It is great to hear what others do! :)

Paper Pear said...

I paint with my kids like Painted Paper (which I learned from her while subbing for her:) and I will never go back to water on the tables! If we work with a project with complimentary colors I will give kids 2 brushes and sometimes say "one brush for cold and one brush for warm colors" I also have mini color wheels so the kids can check the color combos. I also have kids back to back so no clean up time in between. If time allows I will let reliable kids clean brushes. Usually me tho! I do also have a large amount of brushes. I do the bucket in sink too. I like the hand washing ideas. That is my huuuge problem!

Unknown said...

I hear you on hand washing! We painted cat fur (tiger, puma, lion, leopards) for a project and when their teacher came their hands were not washed. The game was to guess what kind of cat they made by looking at their hands oh well! We try!!!