Failure to Plan=Plan to Fail!

Click on the image above to download the PDF of this document

Do new, untouched paints, pointed sharp crayons, and freshly cut papers make you feel giddy?

When someones mentions file folders and office supplies, does your heart skip a beat?

If so, maybe you have that right/left brain balance that I do. As much as I love creativity, equally love organization.  My theory is that I must be organized in order to create! I apply this same philosophy with the students. By setting them up for an organized art room and hyper organized lessons the first few weeks, you are setting a precedence for the rest of the year and starting yourself off on the right foot!


The next two weeks on AOE (Art of Education) will be dedicated to something that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside: Organizing and planning for a new school year. Stay tuned, as the weeks progress I will be sharing how I plan on paper, and how I set up and organize my art room. From supplies, to student work to seating charts, it will all be here! I will return with more lesson PDFs mid August. I have lots of great lessons to share with you for the upcoming year.

Today, in the theme of planning, I would like to share with you our curriculum. It’s always interesting to see what other districts are doing as far as curriculum goes, and seeing my curriculum here will help you to better understand many things I will roll out, including my lessons and assessments, which all tie back to this single document. We, as an art department, were able to write our own curriculum, and we decided to base it off of the Elements and Principles of Design, and incorporate the media and artist through these elements.

Download your own PDF Copy

Our Power Standards represent the most important things our students should know and be able to do throughout the year. These exact same standards are on our report card, so this is what we assess as well.  We try to hit each element with each grade level. The curriculum spirals throughout the K-5 experience.

So, how do I keep track of making sure I am hitting all of the Power Standards, and hitting them hard? I have several planning matrixes that I absolutely live by. I am better with big picture planning, so I use a full year grid.

Here is an example of my planning sheet for 1st grade.  The Power Standards correspond with the ones above. We have a month for each Art Element, which equals about one or two projects per month (hence 4 boxes in each month)

Download your own copy the matrix by clicking on the image below, and you can modify it to fit your needs! ENJOY! 

As I plan, I jot down my ideas in pencil, putting in first the lessons I know are a sure hit from last year.  I write in pencil so I can change and adapt as I work.  Once I have the year mostly planned out, I will type it up and put it in my binder.

Above is a snapshot of what my “To Do Next Year” list looks like! It’s getting full. Time to get some of it crossed off!

It causes so much less stress and headache to at least have an idea of your whole year planned out ahead of time.  Sure, I change my mind, or realize I don’t have time for something as the year goes on, but in a pinch, I’ll always have an idea planned out. Piece of mind, my friends!

Download a sample planing matrix by clicking on the image above! Modify to fit your own needs and enjoy!

How do you go about planning your year of fabulous lessons?!

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is AOEU’s Founder and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.

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