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The first day of school can be exciting, emotional, and challenging for many students. It is our role as art educators to create a welcoming classroom to foster creativity. We need to spark their interests and capture their attention during those first few classroom experiences.
One great activity that can create a pleasant and creative experience for students is to host the Sumi Ink Club. Students’ interests will be immediately piqued by the name and the idea of a club. The Sumi Ink Club was started by artists Sarah Rara and Luke Fischbeck. The “Club” fosters human connections through the creation of art. The artists invited anyone to make art with them. They hung large sheets of blank white paper, put out Sumi Ink and brushes, and welcomed people to paint any images they wanted.
Remind students of Sarah Rara’s advice that, “the art is important, but the most important thing is the conversation.” Encourage students to talk to each other as they paint. It is also great to paint with your students. This will help them get to know you and see you as an artist as well as an educator.
Sumi Ink Club is perfect to host on the first day of school as it takes all of the nervous energy and channels it into the painting. Students don’t have to worry about what they are creating as it will not be judged in any way. If they are not sure what to paint, they can simply add on to someone else’s work. If they get stuck, they can move around to another section.
Having students all work on one large work of art builds community and can strengthen the class from day one. The social interactions between students are as important as the art created. The relaxed atmosphere of the classroom sets the tone for the entire year. Students are welcome in the classroom.
The Sumi Ink Club is an excellent low cost, low effort art project that is welcoming and inviting to all. You can host the club many times throughout the school year. You may even want to try out some extension ideas.
You may encounter on the first day a particularly timid or shy student who does not want to paint with other students. To differentiate, offer a smaller doodle sheet of paper with one mark for them to add on to. Allow them to pick the drawing material if they don’t want to paint or trace a doodle of another student from a different class. Finally, you could give them black paper and white chalk to explore their own imagery.
The Sumi Ink Club is based on creating and developing human connections and is a great way to jump-start the year. It is an easy, low cost, engaging first-day project that will benefit your students long after the first day of school.
Have you ever used Sumi Ink?
Do you encourage doodling and mark making exercises in your classroom?
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.