7 Essential Centers For Your Art Room

As art teachers we have a love-hate relationship with the clocks in our rooms. Sometimes, students need just a bit more time to finish up the projects they have been so diligently working on. Other times, the hour-long project we had planned finishes early, leaving us with a few minutes of class to fill. You’ve got to think quick in order to make the most of the time you are given. Whether you teach full day kindergarten and have some extra instructional time or you have a class you need to slow down because they are light years ahead of their peers, art centers are a great way to keep your students engaged in the art world when you end up with a few spare minutes.


Here are 7 essential centers for your art room.


1. Jewelry Making

Jewelry Making

What we love: These foam shapes are perfect for creating patterns and practicing lacing skills. Students can also create designs with them.

What you’ll need: Foam beads, plastic needles, and thread.

2. Art Concentration

Picture 3

What we love: Students start to recognize famous artworks simply by playing a fun game. It’s great prep for their future Art History 101 class!

What you’ll need: Two sets of matching cards with images from art history. Make your own or see the available choices here!

3. Straws and Connectors

straws and connectors

What we love: Lightweight straws let students build BIG. Anytime a student is allowed to build a skyscraper in the art room, it is a positive experience!

What you’ll need: A straw and connector set. Find the set I use in my room here.

4. Imaginets


What we love: Self-contained magnets, board, and design challenges make this an easy center for all ages to enjoy.

What you’ll need: A magnetic surface, colorful shape magnets, and photos of different design challenges. Get creative or buy this all-in-one game here.

5. Free Draw


What we love: The students get a chance to be creative without necessarily following the step-by-step instructions.

What you’ll need: Plastic shoebox, stack of scrap paper, and the media of your choice.

6. Color Match

Color Match

What we love: The students go beyond the world of red, yellow, and blue to discover colors like crimson apple, buttery gold, and seaside swell. Plus, it enhances memorization skills!

What you’ll need: Clothespins, paint chips and a few other things. Learn how to make your own version here!

7. Play-Doh

Play doh

What we love: It’s a type of clay, (which is a win for students) but it’s easy to clean up (which is a win for teachers)!

What you’ll need: Laminated construction paper for placemats and Play-Doh.

What is your favorite activity to pull out for students when you have extra time? 

What things would you add to this list?


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.


Jennifer Borel

Jennifer Borel is one of AOEU’s Adjunct Instructors and Academic Advisors and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She runs her own photography business and is passionate about students exploring the medium.

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