Classroom Management

5 Stress-Free Ways to Pass Back Art

pile of artwork

If you’re not careful, the simple act of passing back art can take even the calmest class and turn it into a world of chaos. Missing names, shouting voices, students stepping over each other to claim their pieces: It’s enough to make you want to hoard the art and never give it back. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are 5 Stress-Free Ways to Pass Back Art


1. Create Table Folders

table folders

Table folders work well because they eliminate your need for calling out names. At the beginning of the year, create a separate folder for each of your tables. Then, have students house their art in these folders for the duration of the projects. When a project is over, you can simply have students grab their pieces from their table folders.

2. Use Portfolios

portfolios with names

This idea is similar, but instead of having a folder for each table, create one for each student. Once every quarter or semester, have students take everything in their portfolios home. If there are larger pieces, you may want to have some grocery bags on hand to help students carry everything. A bonus to handing back multiple projects at once is that you can make a cover sheet for students to take home that outlines what each project is about. You may want to include any learning targets or “I Can” statements that your students addressed. The portfolio method helps families see the students’ projects as a body of work.

3. Make it Part of Your End-of-Class Routine

This method is great if you have a few extra minutes at the end of class. Stand close to the door with a pile of art that you need to return. Then, call students one-by-one. Instead of holding the art until the student gets to you, place it with the name side facing up next to you so students can simply grab it as they walk past you and get in line. This method works great for things that wouldn’t fit in folders such as found-object sculptures or clay pieces.

4. Send Work with the Classroom Teacher

pile of artwork

This idea only works if the classroom teacher is on board. Instead of passing back work during class, send a pile of work back to the room with the classroom teacher. There may be a designated helper in the class who would love to put art in student mailboxes. You never know unless you ask!

5. Don’t Store it in the First Place

If you’re doing a one-day project or an art exercise, and you’re not planning on grading it, don’t keep it in the first place! Have students take it right with them when they leave the art room.

Hopefully, these tips will help make passing back art a more pleasant experience in your art room. Keeping the art organized will help make passing it back a breeze. Unless you have extra time, limit passing things out one-by-one and try and contain pieces in table groups or portfolios instead. Or, see if you can skip the task altogether and send the artwork back to the classroom in one big bundle. It never hurts to ask!

How do you pass back art in your classroom?

Do you have any other tips to share?


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.


Amanda Heyn

Amanda Heyn is AOEU’s Director of K–12 PD & Media and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She enjoys creating relevant and engaging professional development just for art teachers.

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