We all know that snowy winter morning feeling. You are nestled in bed under your warm comforter, wearing your pajamas inside out and backward, crossing all your fingers, waiting to hear those two special words on the radio: SNOW DAY! This winter is predicted to be an especially cold and snowy one, so I am planning to introduce two new words into the snow day equation: “art advocacy.” And you should too!
Wait . . . art advocacy, when we don’t even have school?
Ultimately, we are hoping to foster a lifelong love of art in our students. We want them to be patrons of the arts and people who create things outside of school for personal or professional reasons. On snow days, kids are literally a captive audience. They are stuck at home with nothing to do, and they are bored to an epic level by about 9:30 a.m. This affords us a unique opportunity to help them transition from makers at school to makers in their own homes.
I can hear you all saying, “Oh, no…I’m not working on MY snow day!” I understand. A snow day is a teacher’s dream, too. We all relish an unexpected day to lounge, watch Netflix, and recharge our batteries for the rest of the winter! This is why frontloading all the work on this task is so essential. If you get organized, you can still sleep in.
Getting the word out NOW
The Farmer’s Almanac and our local meteorologist are both predicting snow and super low temps, but not for at least a month. That isn’t stopping me from promoting my snow day plan NOW. It’s important that my kids know what the plan is, and how to participate well BEFORE the snow day actually occurs. That way, after the initial shock and awe of an actual day off school sets in as many kids as possible will know how to access the “Snow Day Art Challenge” information.
Here are a few ways I’m promoting my “Snow Day Art Challenge.”
- A “Snow Day Art Challenge” bulletin board in the hallway by the art room.
- Mentioning it to each art class while we are working.
- Asking my administrators to include a blurb in the school newsletter.
- The pièce de résistance would be adding it to the automated robo-dial all families receive on the actual snow day, but I might be getting a little ahead of myself!
All of these promotional methods communicate the same message to my kids. “There is an exciting and mysterious challenge. There will be prizes. You can only find out more if you go to one of our social media platforms (website, Youtube channel, or Facebook page) at 9am on the morning of the snow day.” If your classroom doesn’t use this type of tech, you can always go “old school” with a paper flyer!
Providing the art task
So, what will they find when they visit my site/channel/page at 9am on that morning? They will see a video message and a printable “menu” of art challenge options. Creating both of these items ahead of time enables me to simply upload them the morning of the snow day and go back to bed.
The video message will greet them, explain the menu, and wish them luck. I plan to really ham it up in a parka, earmuffs, and far too many scarves. The menu itself will offer six different art challenge choices. Having choice enables students of various ages, ability levels, and interests to find something they would consider doing on their day off. Additionally, since they are all at home with widely different resources available to them, options will be key. I’m including my menu to get you started with a few ideas.Download The Snow Day Art Challenge Now!
Giving an incentive
One would hope students would be intrinsically motivated to further their own learning. However, I know my students well, and I suspect a small prize and bragging rights will really light a fire. I plan to give away Sno Caps, 7/11 Slushies, gift certificates for Wendy’s Frostys, and other snow-themed treats. I also plan to post the winners on a hallway bulletin board for everyone to admire. (I have some competitive kids!) If you aren’t able to put money into prizes, you could choose a free incentive as well. My students love coupons to choose the music in the art room or sit to by a friend in class. Whatever prize you choose, it will add another layer of motivation.
Is it going to work? As long as we don’t lose electricity, I’m optimistic it’s going to be a hit! Try making your students a “Snow Day Art Challenge” menu and join in the fun.
What would you add to your menu?
How do you encourage your students to make art at home?
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.