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50+ Back-to-School Ideas for The Art Room

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Whether you’re entering your first year or your thirtieth, there’s always something new to learn. It’s what makes teaching so fun and exciting—there’s never a dull moment! Grab one of these 50+ ideas from our archives and resources to get yourself inspired for another amazing year.


If you are the only art teacher in your building, consider these articles your “BFF” whispering handy tips in your ear as you work through those first tough weeks.

20 Tips For Your 1st (or 10th!) School Year

12 Important Things I Wish I Knew My First Year of Teaching

Are you Dreading a New School Year?

6 Important Pieces of Advice for Entering a New Teaching Position

Tips for Teaching Art on a Cart From a Seasoned Pro

15 Things Nobody Tells You About Becoming an Art Teacher
5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before this School Year Starts

First Day Activities

Because going over the rules is “so last year,” here are some fresh ideas to keep that first day memorable for your students and not-so-boring for you.

Create a Syllabus That Your Students Will Actually Want to Read
Go Ahead! Show a Video on the First Day of School
Engage Your Students From Day One with a Quiz About Yourself
A Winning Lesson for the First Day of Kindergarten Art
The Perfect Activity to Start Your School Year
Create Art on Day One With This Fool-Proof Lesson
Kick Off the School Year with an Art-Inspired Music Video!

Building Relationships

Building relationships with students is critically important, but students aren’t the only people you will interact within this profession. Learn to “play nice” with all of the stakeholders in your building to start the year off on the right foot.

How to Remember Student Names

A Colorful Way to Get to Know Your Students

Out of Ice Breakers? Try a TASK Party!

How a Single Sheet of Paper Can Impact Your Art Program

Make Classroom Teachers Your Allies With a Teacher Cabinet

Why it Pays to Be BFFs With Your Custodian (and How to Make it Happen)

How Your Teacher Librarian Can Make Your Life Awesome


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Supplies and Materials

Managing all the stuff that comes along with this profession can be daunting. Here are some articles to help you hone in on what you really need.

Your Ultimate Guide to Free Choice in the Art Room

AOE’s UPDATED Ultimate Guide to Art Fundraisers

Getting the Art Room You Want With the Budget You Have

A Complete List of Supplies for Your New Art Room

Opening a New Art Room: An Art Teacher’s Cheat Sheet

Curriculum Planning

Scope and sequence, fitting in all those standards and making sure you don’t forget anything: Curriculum is a fun puzzle that is always a work in progress.

Planning a Sequential Elementary Curriculum
Designing Art Curriculum Units
Building Foundational Skills
Implementing the National Art Standards
Effortlessly Communicate Your K-8 Curriculum With These Student Handouts
Effortlessly Communicate Your High School Curriculum With These Student Handouts
10 Simple Ways to Spice Up and Streamline Your Art Curriculum
10 Things You Should Know About the New Visual Art Standards
How to Develop a Unit Using the New Visual Arts Standards
20 Practical SLO Ideas for Busy Art Teachers

Classroom Management

It all starts with setting high expectations from the start and sticking to your guns!

Managing the Classroom
Managing Middle Schoolers
8 Fundamental Routines That Will Transform Your Art Room
Have a Seat! 5 Tips For Managing Your Seating Charts
How to Introduce your Classroom Management Plan
Private: Sick of Teaching the Rules? Make a Video!
Potty Talk: A Flow Chart, A Bathroom Management System, and A Mysterious Puddle
Start the Year Off with a Classroom Mantra
The Easiest Way to Teach Routines

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Time Management 

It seems like our prep time at school is less and less each year. Find ways to use the time you do have wisely. Consider it a game, it’ll be fun!

How to Write a “To Do List” You’ll Actually Use

How to Manage Your Email in 9 Easy Steps

Private: 8 Simple Tricks to Make Mornings Easier

The First Thing You Should Do at Work Every Single Day!

Preparing for Subs

There will come a time when you have to be out of the art room. Sub plans are a cinch with the following tips!

How to Make a Sub Tub for Stress-Free Sick Days

Creating a Substitute Teacher Folder for Your Art Room

Private: Insider Tips for Getting Great Subs (and What to Do to Keep Them Coming Back)

Reaching All Learners

New students bring rewarding new challenges. You must bring your A-Game to reach all learners in the art room!

Differentiation in the Art Room
Teaching Adaptive Art
Setting Up an Autism-Friendly Classroom
Strategies for English Language Learners
Video: How to Create and Use a Picture Schedule in your Art Room
5 Adaptations You Can Make for the Art Room TODAY!
5 Ways to Help Students with Special Needs Feel Successful in the Art Room
Help Your ELL Students in Art Class with These Simple Steps

Remember: You can’t do it all. Chip away at your goals and continue to add things each week and month that enhance your art room, solidify your curriculum and make the overall experience your students have memorable.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new art teacher for the first week of school, what would it be?

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 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.