Media & Techniques

Art Room All-Stars: 12 Superlatives to Lighten Up Your End-of-Year Mood


Roll out the red carpet! It’s time to celebrate the end of another great year with an awards ceremony—art teacher style. Join your AOEU community in honoring the MVPs of the art room with well-deserved superlatives that are sure to bring a smile to your face and a silly break from the end-of-year frenzy. Have a little bit of fun as you discover whether your art room faves made the cut and evaluate which accolades are spot on. When you finish, plan your own art award ceremony to bring the party to your students and lighten the mood in your art room.

Give art room superlatives to the superstar materials and processes that made your year great. Here are the awards the AOEU community will give out this year.

Art Room Superlatives

1. Most Likely to Be President: Paper

Paper maintains a steadfast, unwavering presence in the art room, serving as the cornerstone for countless projects. With its versatile nature and reliable performance, paper earns the trust and votes of students who, as Emily Anne puts it, “Sometimes just really need that new paper to restart.” Paper’s availability makes it a go-to choice for artists of all skill levels, solidifying its status as the VIP of art supplies. Dive deeper into the possibilities of paper with the Exploring Architecture Through Paper Sculpture Pack from PRO Learning.


2. Best Sense of Humor: Charcoal

Known for leaving its distinctive mark on paper, hands, faces, and clothing, charcoal infuses the art room with playfulness and spontaneity, often eliciting laughter from students and colleagues alike. Its tendency to leave behind traces adds a touch of whimsy to the creative process, encouraging artists to embrace the unexpected and find joy in the artistic journey. Embrace the unpredictable charm of charcoal to boost learning through kinesthetic practices in your art room.

3. Most Likely to Brighten Your Day: Clay

Clay “definitely keeps the students’ attention,” says Barry Teghtmeyer, who builds clay castles with his students to teach Medieval history. Barry’s statement attests to why Clay Week is a highly anticipated elementary-level event and why ceramics courses are among the most popular secondary-level classes. Clay sparks enthusiasm and engages the senses, brightening the day for students and teachers alike. Draw inspiration for clay projects from FLEX Curriculum’s Pinch Pottery Collection.


4. Most Unique Style: Mixed Media

With its eclectic mix of images, patterns, and textures, mixed media pieces have a unique style that draws viewers’ attention, making them the best-dressed artworks in the room. Explore incorporating mixed media into your curriculum with PRO Learning’s Mixed Media Basics Pack. From magazine cutouts to fabric scraps, each component contributes to the overall composition, resulting in a work of art that is as one-of-a-kind as the artists themselves.

mixed media

5. Most Likely to Spark Imagination: Watercolor

The fluidity of watercolors evokes a sense of wonder that sparks the imagination. The gentle bleeding of color and subtle blending of hues have a magical quality that transports artists to distant realms of inspiration and possibility. It’s no wonder Sarah Meadows states watercolor is “without a doubt” her favorite medium to teach. Your students will also write a love letter to watercolor after discovering how many techniques they can use, how well it plays with other materials, and how easy it is to find success with.


6. Most Likely to Become Infamous: Chalk Pastels

Chalk pastels have become notorious in art due to their messy nature. Abigail Attard highlights the love-hate relationship many art teachers have with chalk pastels, acknowledging their calming effect while recognizing that “they tend to smudge everything by mistake.” Beth Anne Tague simply “got rid of them.” Rediscover the undeniably fun aspects of this medium with FLEX Curriculum’s Chalk Pastel Techniques Collection. Despite their tendency to create chaos in the art room, chalk pastels continue to captivate artists with their soft yet vibrant qualities.

chalk pastel

7. Most Likely to Travel the World: Erasers

Erasers—those humble yet indispensable tools of the trade—possess a wanderlust that knows no bounds. These trusty tools have a knack for disappearing from desks and finding their way into backpacks, pockets, and beyond. You’ll want to keep track of them to practice eraser prints. Experiment with other simple printmaking materials as outlined in the Elementary Printmaking with Simple Materials Pack from PRO Learning.


8. Best Hair: Paint Brushes

Paint brushes boast a dynamic and ever-changing aesthetic that sets them apart as the true divas of the studio. Their bristles, adorned with a kaleidoscope of colors from the myriad of paint hues they encounter, create a captivating visual spectacle that’s only dampened when left unwashed. No wonder Jadine Zadvorney emphatically advises not to “jam the paintbrushes on the bottom of the water cup–swirl them!” Help your students care for paintbrushes and other materials in the art room to keep them looking their finest.


9. Most Innovative: Printmaking

Printmaking is a beacon of innovation in the art room, offering a boundless playground for creative experimentation and expression. Whether exploring monoprinting or one of FLEX Curriculum’s Relief Printmaking Collection projects, this medium inspires students to push the boundaries over and over with each print. As Liza Burman suggests, “any printmaking” sparks excitement and ignites the imagination, making it a beloved choice for artists seeking to break new ground and redefine artistic boundaries.


10. Most Likely to Change the World: Cardboard Cutters

Cardboard cutters wield the power to revolutionize the 3D cardboard projects in your art room. Say goodbye to sore hands and clumsy cuts when dealing with cardboard. With each precise and safe cut students make, cardboard cutters prove themselves indispensable to art teachers everywhere. In the hands of imaginative students, cardboard cutters embody the potential to change the world, one sculptural masterpiece at a time. Upgrade your cardboard storage to match the level of your cutting tools for a truly transformative sculptural experience.

🔎 joyful 🔎

11. Most Timeless: Drawing

Drawing maintains its enduring appeal and relevance through the ages, standing as a testament to the timeless power of visual communication and artistic interpretation. Its simplicity and universality make it accessible to artists of all ages and skill levels, offering a vast scope of techniques around which to base instruction. For Yandira Jester and Jennifer Chauvin Wheeler, “black and white value drawings” are “a hill they’re very willing to die on.” Explore ways to keep drawing relevant with the Rethinking Your Drawing Curriculum Pack from PRO Learning.


12. Most Likely to Succeed: Permanent Markers

Hailed as indispensable tools in the art teacher’s arsenal, permanent markers have solidified their status as a vital resource for educators and students. Kate Schaich consumes so many permanent markers in her room that she has an ongoing donation collection. Students know and bring her packs of permanent markers all year long! Permanent markers reign supreme as an essential medium that helps all artists succeed.


While you’re still smiling, take a moment to jot down your favorite superlatives, such as “Best Dressed” and “Most Likely to Travel the World,” for your upcoming art room award ceremony. Encourage your students to participate by nominating and voting for the supplies and processes they believe deserve recognition. Not only will it be a tribute to the essential tools and techniques that have enriched your studio all year, but it is also an opportunity to reflect and review. Let the spirit of celebration and gratitude continue to uplift the atmosphere in your art room as the school year draws to a close. Cue the standing ovation!

What art room superlative would you add to the list?

How do you use humor in your art room?

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.


Mariana VanDerMolen

Mariana VanDerMolen, an elementary art educator, is a current AOEU Writer. She enjoys teaching for creativity, with a focus on ELL and therapy in a process-based art room.

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