Does your sanity need a little saving? I will be posting art room hacks just for you because small changes can make big impacts. I will be adding these as I go because I of course have these amazing ideas I have to share with the world... then forget to write them down. I'm the only one right?
Okay so my first hack is a huge one. I started doing this my first year of teaching and this year I was surprised when someone shared with me that someone had published it on a very popular blog post. Are you ready? Here it is: hot glue everything down.
I glued down every breakable object in sight and also the corners of my rugs. It is a life-saver! Place down first so you don't ruin anything then put a glob of hot glue on it. The tape is optional but it helps to not ruin any surfaces. THen, while the glue is still hot, place your item on top. With ceramics I was comfortable putting on hot glue directly on the items because it usually pops off or you can scrape the glue off. you will have to tug pretty hard to remove your object from the surface but that is the point, right?
My second hack that I am obsessed with lately is measuring cups. Now I know that they are used for cooking ingredients but a long time ago I discovered it was my holy grail. My favorite thing to do with measuring cups was to have my cereal or soup in them. They are large and can hold a lot. They have a handle. I don't have to touch the hot/cold glass. I can easily pour out of it. What is not to love?
Well recently I found measuring cups at Dollar tree (for $1) and I had an epiphany that I wanted them to be my new water cups for the classroom and it has been absolutely amazing! Students are able to measure how much water goes in them, the groove for pouring is perfect for resting the brush on top, the kids only have to use one hand to hold them, they are tall and not wide mouthed so water isn't sloshing from the top, and my favorite part is they are only $1! I bought enough for every student to have one so they aren't fighting over them. When everything is done the students just pour out the water and rinse! THIS HAS BEEN A LIFE-SAVER FOR MY CLASSROOM. IF YOU DON'T HAVE A DOLLAR TREE NEAR YOU, YOU CAN EVEN ORDER THEM ONLINE.
HERE IS THE LINK: DOLLAR TREE CUPS
MY THIRD HACK IS FOR DRYING RACKS. I had just arrived at my new school with my new art room with new art supplies and this shiny new drying rack and then fast forward to painting with my eager students and I sing to them (well, probably not sing but this is how I want my memory to be) to put their artwork on the drying rack and then... All the artwork falls through. This would happen especially when the air conditioner would be on or the door to outside would be open. Also from time to time i would encounter that curious student would wanted to strum the shelves like a musical instrument sending vibrations down the rack, artwork and all. I was at a loss. How could I keep from the artwork falling through? I had seen some teachers who put pipe cleaners on them or some that made their own placemats but I knew there had to be a better way. So... I went to Ikea. They have amazing, thick placemats and they were pretty cheap at the time. Around a dollar each. Are there cheaper ones? Yes. Did my school pay for them? No. Did I buy all of them at the same time? No. Did I have to buy them because they were black and white stripes? Yes.
every so often when I would go to Ikea I would pick up a few and my collection eventually grew where every shelf had it's own placemat. They are durable, Hold what is on them, can easily be washed in the dishwasher or by hand, and the best part is my papers finally stayed where they were meant to.
Also Students are able to take the placemats off of the rack, take them to their seat and use it as a surface to work on. When they are done all they have to do is take the placemats back to the drying rack. If the placemat is dirty or sticky, students just have to flip the mat over to the clean side and put their paper on top of that so nothing gets stuck on it.
My last trick to using the placemats on the drying rack is for thin pieces of clay. Some projects that are two-dimensional easily fit in between the shelves so they are able to dry. I use the fuzzy side of masonite boards and label with tape each student's name. I eventually upgraded to using different colored tape for different classes and that was also a huge game changer. Why didn't I think of that sooner? I love having the clay dry on the rack because it is out of reach of little ones, saves a ton of space, and is easily accessible.
I hope you have enjoyed these teacher hacks and have gotten some inspiration. These hacks have made my life a lot easier and I hope it will make yours a little easier as well!