Professional Learning

5 Local Places for the Art Teacher to Check Out This Summer


Many art teachers dream of summer break all school year long. Perhaps you booked as many trips as your bank account allowed or compiled some epic bucket lists! Or maybe, after the hustle and bustle of a chaotic school year, a summer of nothingness is most appealing. Wherever you land, there are always adventures to be had! Whether you’re traveling miles from home and want to live the local life or having a staycation, take time to check out the local places highlighted below for your summer escapades.

Art teachers draw inspiration from anywhere—it’s a superpower of our job! Peruse these local places to recharge your creativity this summer.

graffiti face

1. Museums

Museums are at the top of the list for art teachers! It’s an excellent place to spend a summer day, and there is always lots to look at. Museum collections can be broad to niche. If you’re looking for an interesting niche, visit Oklahoma’s Museum of Osteology to see how modern art and skeletons merge! Other popular types of museums include science, history, natural history, and children’s museums. As you’re viewing new things, ask lots of questions! Record any questions and bring them back to your classroom in the fall. For instance, if you have a question about how frogs can jump so high and far, have your students explore this as they draw frogs in different jumping poses.

Many museums allow visitors to bring a small sketchpad and pencil into an exhibit. Get inspired by curated exhibits and have an afternoon of live drawing! If allowed, snap a photo of a contemporary artist’s name to search on social media. This is a great way to stay up-to-date with modern artists’ creations.

Museums often have a desk or whole classroom designed for children. Seek out and explore these spaces! They are great for how to set up your own classroom and can provide riveting lesson ideas and helpful resources. If you’re feeling brave, ask if there is a museum educator on staff you can speak to. Introduce yourself and see if there is a future opportunity for collaboration!

hill with dirt and grass

2. Nature

It’s summertime, so get outside! The natural world is full of beautiful patterns, colors, textures, and objects. There are myriad ways to experience nature this summer. Whether you head to your local park, cool down in the pool, visit a nature reserve, bike the trails, or visit the zoo, nature is waiting. Reflect on the adventures you took and what inspired you and bring them back to your students. After you hit a few mountain bike trails, snap photos of other cyclists’ tires. Share the photos with your students when you introduce the element of texture.

Getting out in nature doesn’t have to be a huge venture—sit on your front porch and do a thirty-second sketch first thing in the morning. The great outdoors can be so inspiring if we allow time to be present. Check out the Outdoor Observation Lesson in FLEX Curriculum for more applications.

closeup of textiles and beads

3. Retail Stores

It’s hard to hear, but back-to-school shopping for ourselves and our families often starts during the summer. Be on the lookout for striking color palettes, textures, and patterns! When the fashion seasons shift, these elements go bold. For example, summer colors may bring punchy tropical teals, hot reds, or bold navy blues.

Store displays can bring loads of inspiration too. From the outfits on mannequins to book arrangements, store displays know how to grab your attention. Isn’t that what we want in our classroom displays too? Observe the use of color, texture, pattern, and size to spark creativity in your next artwork, class display, or student project. Anthropologie hires a visual artist to construct installation-like displays peppered throughout their stores. Investigate inspiring displays with a quick Google search or go shopping and document with your camera!

picnic tables

4. Theaters

Summer often brings seasonal shows, plays, concerts, and events. Gain inspiration from the performing arts that you can apply to your own artwork and curriculum. Watch a newly released movie at the theater or find a drive-in showing old classics. There are so many similarities between art and music and they often build upon each other. Many cities offer outdoor concerts during the summer or Shakespeare in the Park. Grab a folding chair, cooler, and sketchbook!

After watching a movie, experiencing a show or musical, or attending a concert, think about the questions it brought up. Would this be an interesting topic to start a work of art? What big, overarching themes were introduced? Tuck away your thoughts in a safe spot so you can pull them out during the school year when you need some ideas.


5. Libraries

Book lovers, rejoice! Libraries are great places to peruse and look for new inspiration. The best part about libraries is they are free! If you are looking to learn a new skill or hobby, libraries are an excellent place to find how-to books or sign up for a workshop. Just don’t forget to return your books and multimedia on time!

Today, libraries are not just about checking out books. Listen to an audiobook while you go on a walk, tackle some summer chores, or whip up a quick watercolor painting. Some libraries host social events like game nights or book clubs. If you are looking for new topics to explore this summer, step into a library and thumb through a few books or browse their list of offerings.

The break between May and September is such a treat! Savor each day and investigate what local offerings surround you. Try something new, like taking a fiber arts workshop offered at your local library. Get a glimpse at the most popular colors of the season by window shopping at the mall. Walk a nature trail, see wildlife, and spot unique fauna. Check out the educational space at a new museum. Being an art teacher introduces so many interesting lenses to see our surroundings! Enjoy your art teacher perspective through the endless possibilities in your area this summer.

What is your favorite local spot to visit in the summer?

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.


Jackie Myers

Jackie Myers, an upper elementary art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She enjoys road trips with her family, creating mixed-media collages, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen.

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