My school was built in the 1980s, a decade where the idea of washing your hands after a messy art project must have slipped many architect’s minds. Since my art room was used as an elementary science lab for most of its existence, the need for multiple sinks just wasn’t necessary. Friends, that is no longer the case.
You can’t just give twenty-four Kindergarteners finger paint without the chance to clean their gummy hands. But what are you to do when you only have one sink? We’ve compiled a list of solutions to help solve that very problem.
1. Here are 5 practice sink solutions for art teachers.
Have you ever asked your custodian if they have any rags they can loan you? My custodians gladly give me all the rags I want because it helps save them from purchasing more paper towels. All you need to do is put a damp rag on each table and have the students wipe off their hands after a messy project. You can even see if your custodian would be willing to wash and replace the rags every day. If your school has a washing machine, this idea may be a solution for you.
Take a damp sponge and cut it into four quarters. Then place these in containers that rest on your classroom tables. Students can use these to scrub their hands whenever they need to. The best part is you only have to send one student to the sink to rinse and replace the sponges at the end of the class.
3. Create New “Sinks”
One of the students from the AOE Class Managing the Art Room had her own one-sink solution. This art teacher placed containers filled with soapy water onto a few tables so her students could have multiple wash stations to choose from. Students would rinse their hands in the water and then dry them off. The water got replaced at the end of each class.
4. Have Classroom Teachers Take Them to the Bathroom
When art is over, let the classroom teacher know that they need to swing by the bathroom before returning to class. With multiple sinks in the bathroom, the students can breeze through at a much quicker pace than in your room. Teachers sometimes let their students have a bathroom break after art anyway, so it might be a good solution for everyone.
5. Just Skip It
A final solution to the one-sink debacle is not to let them wash their hands at all. The truth is, it is easier to have one student utilize your sink to help wash materials than to let everyone wash their hands. Classroom management can go downhill fast during the last five minute of class. So if you keep your students busy doing their clean-up jobs then you’ll be less likely to diffuse issues occurring at the sink area.
One other idea is to use hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes with students. However, there has been recent evidence to show that this may not be in the best interest of students. Check with your school nurse about your school’s policy regarding these products.
Do you suffer from the one-sink debacle? How do you cope?
What solutions do you have when it comes to washing hands?
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.