Classroom Management

5 Fantastic Lessons that Work On or Off a Cart

Lessons on or off a cart

Sometimes the ideas we post on AOE very clearly will work best in a classroom situation. Today, we’d like to change that! Whether you are in an art room or travel on a cart, the materials and project ideas listed below will work for you and your students. All it takes is some thoughtful planning and organization. By now, you probably know I’m a huge advocate for being organized and planning ahead. Like art cart guru Mrs. C told us, prepped and organized materials make the days run much smoother, especially when teaching on a cart!

Below are 5 types of projects that I have facilitated in my own art program that can work both on a cart and in an art room.

Don’t forget to check out the helpful tips and reminders listed for each. You might even want to pin each image to have a visual reminder of all the possibilities!

1. Mixed Media

Just because you’re on a cart doesn’t mean your projects can’t be more complex. Thinking ahead and breaking the projects into steps will help. Consider asking to use the glue and scissors inside of students’ desks so you don’t have to lug so much around. When working with messier materials like chalk pastels, try slipping pieces of recycled paper between art pieces for storage so residue doesn’t spread. mixed media

2. Small Clay Sculptures

Clay is definitely trickier on a cart but can be done! You may want to plan to do clay with multiple grade levels at once, so you can transform your cart into a “clay cart” for your clay units. Include essentials like mats, tools, rolling pins, and room for clay and water cups on top. Think through your implementation and storage solutions before picking your projects. For example, I would suggest sticking to one-day lessons if week-to-week storage is an issue. Consider asking special permission to store the clay projects in the classrooms until you are able to retrieve them.   clay
3. Cut Paper Collage

Collage is fun and relatively painless as far as preparation goes. Double check to make sure you have the right colors and the right amount for the students you will see. Again, think about using the glue and scissors already in the classrooms, or don’t forget to bring your own!cut paper collage
4. Drawing

Again, drawing projects are great because the materials list is generally pretty short. While pencil is a great medium to work with, it doesn’t take much more effort to add other drawing materials such as Sharpies, colored pencils, or oil pastels. Don’t forget to bring those sneaky extras like extra sharpeners and erasers! drawing
5. Watercolor

Have your water and water cups ready to go with a thought out storage and distribution plan. I keep my watercolors in a large bin for easy access and transport. You may also want to consider mats, papertowels, or even purchasing one of these miniature drying racks to fit on your cart. Don’t forget the brushes!   watercolor

Bonus Hints!

I’d like to end with three helpful planning hints from one of my colleagues, Deb Leventhal.

1. When designing projects, think through your drying situation.
Are you able to let projects dry in the classroom? Do you have to store the projects on your cart before you can place them somewhere to dry? If you’re doing clay, can you leave the projects in the students’ classrooms?

2. If you need water for paint or slip, bring a pitcher or gallon jug, and stacked empty yogurt cups for easy distribution.
You can always pour the water back into the pitcher or jug if need be.

3. Think about how you will handle clean-up of messier material.
For example, if hands or table tops are going to get messy, have some pre-dampened paper towels ready in a bowl.

Bottom line: think through, plan ahead, prep, and be flexible. You can implement just about any lesson your heART desires!

Please ask me about any of the lessons pictured in the comments below. I’d be happy to elaborate!

Teachers on a cart, what are the most important things you think about when designing your lessons? 

Does anyone run a choice-based program off a cart? We’d love to hear about it!

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.


Alecia Eggers Kaczmarek

Alecia Eggers Kaczmarek, an elementary school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She is passionate about teaching and reaching students through an innovative and meaningful arts education.

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