I received this email from a Deep Space Sparkle reader regarding hosting a Family Art Night. I hadn’t done one in years and wasn’t even sure I could remember what I did, but a little searching through my old photos was successful in jogging my rapidly deteriorating memory!
“I am planning a Family Art Event at my school. We are planning to have different stations set up for kids and their folks to experiment with different art materials and have fun making art together as a school. Have you ever had an event like this at your school? If you have and have any suggestions or advice, I will listen with grateful ears! I am trying to collect information and tips from other art teachers who have done something like this before. If you ever have a moment to share something you have learned from hosting art events, I would be so appreciative!” -Lisa Miller
Before I became an art teacher, I volunteered in my children’s school assisting classroom teachers with art lessons, ordering supplies and assisting with basic techniques. After a while, the principal asked me to organize a Family Art Night. Huh? We had science nights before but never an art night. Heck, we didn’t even have regular art in the classroom. But…it sounded like a great idea, so I said “Absolutely!”
Our school was lucky to have a forward-thinking principal who believed in the value of art even though test scores dictated a much different agenda. Still, I wasn’t quite sure what an “Art Night” would involve, and was a little hesitant on my ability to pull off an event where children and parents could experience art together. The principal offered up her staff (a combination of regular classroom teachers and student aids) and together we brainstormed on lesson possibilities.
I don’t have all my notes but I believe my list went something like this:
- Printmaking Station: Etch foam with a dull pencil, use a brayer to roll on paint. Print onto pre-cut 5″ x 7″ paper.
- Water Color and Oil Pastel Resist: Set out small pieces of paper, oil pastels and pans of watercolor paints and let kids free-paint.
- Antique Flowers Watercolor Wash: Use oil pastels to draw a vase with flowers. Crumple paper to form wrinkles. Cover with watercolor wash.
- Symmetrical Butterfly: Fold a piece of white paper in half, draw half a butterfly on one half with an oil pastel, fold over and press hard. Trace faint outline on other side and fill in with watercolor. Here is a lesson link.
- Stuffed Fish: Children select large fish shape and staple paper together. Paint with bright colors and add glitter. (One teacher was anointed “The Glitter Queen” and sprinkled glitter on the wet paint. A large table was needed for this project as well as large vats of pre-mixed paints, large brushes and plenty of staplers!
- Oil and Chalk Pastel Drawing: Children use oil pastels on pre-cut black paper then smudge chalk pastels over top.
- Symmetrical Vase with Stamped Flowers: Children cut a vase from pre-folded card stock and glue onto a small piece of paper. Using sponges (various shapes) dipped in paint, they stamped flowers and designs onto their paper. Here is a lesson link.
- Play-Dough Color Wheel: Children blend colors using yellow, red and blue play dough.
Set-up: This was a biggie. I knew it would be difficult to stage actual art demonstrations as people needed to be able to come and go freely. So to make the art project assessable to everyone, I created demo boards. I drew or created the “steps” in the art project and used MS Word to create printable instructions. The steps were easy to follow for anyone.There is an example above (Symmetrical Butterfly).
Art Storage: Once a child completed a project, what were we suppose to do with it? They couldn’t quite carry it around as most of the projects remained wet for a while. One of the teachers suggested that we convert an unused portion of our cafeteria for art storage. This is what she suggested: Lay colored sheets of work paper along floor (as long as you can make them…about 20 feet). For each color, label the ends: LAST NAME A-C, LAST NAME D-F, etc. When a child finished a project they took the wet paper out to the paper row and placed their art under the initial of their last name. Each row was a different color so the child could remember what color he was. The system worked beautifully.
I hope this helps, Lisa! If any other art teachers have done anything similar, please weigh in. It’d be fun to hear different ideas and what worked and what didn’t.