Classroom Management

Why Every Art Classroom Needs a Shopping Cart

As art teachers, we are known for being ingenious with unusual art supplies and mediums. Using recycled garbage, food, or home improvement materials is no problem when it comes to uncommon projects or interesting material choice at centers, but what about unusual equipment in the art room?

Many times, we are the dumping spot in our schools for weird stuff that no one else wants. Odd desks and bookcases, every possible container, bin, and tub…I’ve even been asked if I could use an old refrigerator (that was not in working order). Um, no!

Once in a while, we get lucky. Someone comes across something that seems unusable at home or in a regular ed classroom and so on to the art room it goes.

One morning I opened my classroom door to discover a shopping cart parked in the middle of my space. I was surprised to see it, but I wasn’t about to ask any questions. This was one of the greatest donations to my classroom ever! I knew immediately I could use it for a number of situations: moving supplies around my two classrooms, storing and distributing students’ work and transporting projects when working on displays. I have continued to go on to utilize that shopping cart for years, so much now that I ended up getting a second one (that’s a whole other story).
shopping cart
All this dependency on my classroom shopping cart has made me think of what other unusual equipment an art room could benefit from.

Small Appliances

Obviously the conked out refrigerator was not going to be a good addition to my classroom, but ponder the number of small appliances art teachers tend to keep around. Blenders or hand mixers for paper mache liquid, clothing irons for de-wrinkling rippled paper, even hair dryers to speed drying times.


Alternative Drying Racks

With drying racks being so expensive and taking up so much room, many times we find ourselves creatively rigging up other materials to make a drying rack. Stacked pizza boxes, wires strung across the room and copy paper boxes with notches for yarn shelves are some of the ideas I’ve seen for drying painting projects.
drying rack
Check out Mini Matisse’s suggestion for using a metal expandable filing system for storing and drying small artworks on counter tops.
small drying rack


Non-Techie Equipment for Techie Activities

Since we do a lot of student demonstration filming in my classroom, I have had my share of iPad stand hacks. Of course, you can buy a slick (but expensive) stand or you can also make your own. Or better yet, have students make their own from equipment they may already own like a locker shelf organizer. The iPad camera fits great through an opening in the grid and best of all- they are cheap!
iPad stand
Art rooms are rare environments where all kinds of equipment are needed for daily processes and production. Supplies and materials may take up much of our budgets and physical room space but sometimes, the equipment we utilize is just as essential as the consumable materials.

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What piece of equipment (bought, donated, found or homemade) can’t you live without in your classroom?

What is something you’d love to see show up in the middle of your room?


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.


Tracy Hare

Tracy Hare, a middle school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She strives to deepen students’ 21st-century skills by encouraging them to practice critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills.

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