March is a busy time for art educators. We work hard to highlight our programs and share the amazing things our students have been doing in the art room all year long. Youth Art Month (YAM) is an important time to advocate for art education.
Many art teachers celebrate YAM with a big art show. This is a great way to show your community the strength of your program. Parents, teachers, students, community members, and school leaders love to see colorful art displays. But art displays do not allow the viewer to experience the power of art education for themselves. Is a beautiful display enough to communicate the importance of our discipline?
Here are some interactive ideas to celebrate YAM in your school and community.
1. Involve the entire school in a drawing challenge.
This is one of my favorite activities for YAM. Each time I have held a drawing challenge, I have been amazed at the results.
Provide your school community with a list of prompts to inspire their drawings. I try to break it up into several drawings a week. Collect and display the resulting work around the school. I like to do a raffle for art supplies at the end of the month to encourage participation.
This is a simple way to get the entire school community involved. Students and teachers both love to see the display. Download a copy to use with your students below!
2. Host a teacher artmaking workshop.
Sometimes we forget other educators in our building might not understand what is being taught in the art room. These other teachers can be some of your greatest supporters. Students can learn a lot from collaborative lessons between the arts and other content areas. In order to create a strong connection with other colleagues, they need to understand what we do.
One of my favorite activities I’ve organized during YAM is a teacher art workshop. Invite colleagues to the art room after school and teach a lesson. Paint, clay, and printmaking are popular, even with adults! Through the process of learning something new in your classroom, teachers are sure to gain an appreciation for art education. And you are likely to gain new supporters.
3. Hold a “Family Art Night.”
Often parents are not up to speed when it comes to all the learning taking place in the art room. Reaching out to parents and communicating the role your program plays in the overall curriculum can be a challenge.
A “Family Art Night” is a great way to invite the entire school community to engage in artmaking. Invite families to learn about art together with their children. This can take many different forms, but the key here is parents and children engaging in the creative process together.
4. Create a collaborative artwork.
Why not get the entire student body involved? When everyone contributes to an artwork, the results are always impressive. This can be a mural, film, sculpture, or even a sticky note display. Including the input of all people involved in the artwork is key. I have seen schools where many people have worked together to paint ceiling tiles for the art room and hallways.
Whatever form this takes, be sure to display the resulting work somewhere public. Allow the art itself to share the power of creative learning.
There are many different ways to celebrate YAM. This is a time to advocate for the importance of art in a well-rounded education. Whatever you choose to do to in your school and community, make sure that it communicates the value of art education for our students.
What do you do to celebrate YAM in your community?
What do you think is the most important part of YAM?
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.