No matter the grade level, dealing with free time and students who finish early is one concern all good art teachers have. Though we always want our students to work hard and take time on their artwork, there will always be some students with extra free time (and we all know the saying about idle hands). So whether you’re a veteran teacher or a first-year rookie, whether you’re looking for fun new free time art activities, or looking for ways to sharpen your classroom management, here are 10 free time art activities for art classes:
1. Class murals – Sketch a design on a large roll of paper, then fasten to a bulletin board or wall. Display a sign next to the paper with mural rules and guidelines, and available materials. Invite students to work on the class mural whenever they have free time.
2. Blind artist activity – Create cards on which one side has a picture of a person, artwork, place or object, and the other side has a written description of the image. Students must read the description of the image and attempt to draw it based on the description without peeking at the image on the other side.
3. Grid practice – Grid drawing was a technique developed during the Renaissance which is still useful today. Provide grid paper and post-card size images which students may write on, in order to practice enlarging a drawing whenever they have free time.
4. Teacher’s helper – Most students love to be class helpers. Provide a clipboard with a list of current classroom jobs and maintenance that can be done whenever students have free time, such as sharpening colored pencils, cleaning sinks, filling glue bottles, organizing papers and paint, etc. Many students also enjoy managerial responsibility in art class. Students who finish early can become supply inspectors, checking on classroom art supplies and maintaining the list of the jobs that need to be done.
5. Drawing books – Some art teachers may debate this point, but some students enjoy looking at how-to-draw books and learning independently. If desired, provide tutorial drawing books and paper, and let students teach themselves if they have free time after a lesson.
6. Visit online museums – If your classroom has internet access and devices, pre-load links to online art galleries for easy student access. When they have free time, they can easily click on the links and virtually visit museums all around the world.
7. Art for sale – Encourage the entrepreneurial/business side of the art world. If your school has a yearly auction or art department fundraiser, provide a work station where students can work on pre-determined projects to be sold later in the year.
8. Creativity game – Students blindly pick two slips of paper from a bag filled with random words. They must then work in their sketchbook, or on scrap paper, creating a drawing that combines both words into one object.
9. Drawing prompts – Continuing on the drawing theme, provide a bag or list of open-ended drawing prompts. Students can choose one to work on independently in their free time.
10. Construction station – For students that are more hands-on, provide a construction station to help develop hand-eye coordination and 3-D thinking, filling it with Legos, blocks, pipe cleaners, foil and more. Provide step-by-step diagrams, or blank pages for students to create their own building instructions. Encourage them to take pictures with a classroom camera, or draw their finished structure, when finished.
Got any other great ideas for free time activities for art class? Leave your suggestions below and share in the discussion.