Classroom Management

Make One Small Change to Solve All Your Art Room Problems


  • Is large paper difficult for your youngest students to handle?
  • Do you blow through supplies, like paper and other consumable materials, quickly?
  • Do students spend extra class periods simply ‘filing in all the white space’ ?
  • Do you have limited table space in your art room?


If you answered yes to any of these common art room issues, I have your solution: Make it mini!

Giving students smaller pieces of paper, or smaller quantities of supplies (printing foam, tissue paper, etc), will allow you to do more with less in so many ways, all without hindering the artistic process.

Think about how much paint it takes to fill in the ‘sky’ of a 12”x18” standard piece of construction paper. Use 6”x6” or even 9”x12” paper, and you will cut the amount of materials needed in half.

This trick can also help save you time, as smaller projects allow students to complete more art in the precious little time you get to see them.

Bear in mind, there is a happy medium. Going too small means students need more advanced fine motor skills. Think about the age level you teach before deciding how “mini” to go.

make it mini

One favorite project to ‘shrink down’ is Papel Picado. I found my 2nd graders just couldn’t handle a large piece of tissue paper. It became a sliced and diced mess very quickly. Trying to hang them up was a nightmare. But, when given a tiny piece to make ‘mini banners’ they could fold, cut, and unfold with much greater success.

I hope this tip inspires you to think about ways you can cut supplies without cutting corners!

Tell us, what projects do you do that would work on a smaller scale? 

How else do you save on supplies in your classroom?


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.

More from Jessica