Physical Space

How to Use Anchor Charts to Promote Independence

Painting anchor charts

When considering your classroom culture, it is important to think about how you set up your classroom environment. Being thoughtful about table arrangement, supply storage, and labels can go a long way.

Another factor I consider when designing my room is how I can promote student independence. I believe students’ ability to take charge of their own learning is essential to their success. One way I do this is by providing anchor charts.

What are anchor charts?

3d art anchor charts

If you’re not familiar, anchor charts are student-friendly visuals sharing information about art techniques or processes. Anchor charts work best when they are displayed near the materials they reference.

Anchor charts: 

  • Remind students about techniques and processes
  • Inspire students to explore techniques and processes
  • Allow students to make independent choices about the artmaking process

4 Tips for Effectively Implementing Anchor Charts

Here are a few tips you can use when creating your own anchor charts.

1. Clearly name and show the technique.

Because these will be used by students, you’ll want to make sure each chart is clearly labeled. It’s also imperative to include an example of the technique.

For example, if you are teaching your students a variety of drawing techniques with colored pencils, you would label the anchor chart, “Colored Pencil Techniques.” Then, you would create a variety of examples labeled so students can begin to learn the vocabulary. For example, you might include “burnishing,” “scraping,” and “scumbling.”

You may have the same techniques on more than one anchor chart. For example, “crosshatching” could fall on anchor charts for colored pencils and drawing pencils.

drawing anchor chart

2. Choose the right location to display each chart.

Make sure to place each anchor chart in an appropriate area of the room. For example, you would place a “Collage Techniques” anchor chart near your collage supplies. This way, students are more apt to be reminded of those techniques for the specific medium. If you do not have your room set up in centers, you can still place anchor charts around your room. You could place painting anchor charts near the sink since students who are painting will get water and brushes. Or, you can have all anchor charts in one designated spot for easy access.

stop motion anchor chart

3. Be sure the anchor chart is visually engaging.

Anchor charts should be easy to read and understand. Make sure they have bold lettering and colors that stand out. If they are not visually appealing, students may not refer to them as often or get confused when trying to read them.

4. Remind your students to use them!

Anchor charts are of no use if students aren’t referencing them. Make sure you remind students about the anchor charts available. You can also add new techniques to them throughout the year to keep your students inspired.

Painting anchor charts

Types of Anchor Charts

The types of anchor charts you choose to make will depend on the grade levels and courses you teach. For example, an elementary teacher may have anchor charts that represent a variety of media, while a high school ceramics teacher will focus on clay.

Here are a few anchor charts you may consider creating for your art room.

This broad list of anchor chart examples should get you going in the right direction. Now that you know the basic tips for creating an effective anchor chart and what types you could create, what are you waiting for? Time to get busy!

What types of anchor charts do you have in your classroom?

How do you present anchor charts to your students?

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.


Wynita Harmon

Wynita Harmon is AOEU’s Chair of Faculty Development and a former AOEU Writer and elementary school art educator.

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