What is a studio center?
It is an area in the classroom that is designated for the organization of supplies that correspond to a certain media or type of artistic process. Studio centers should be easily accessible, organized, labeled, and have supplies visible. Studio centers are also supplied with menus that give insight into art elements, techniques, examples, and directions applicable to that center. This was students can get what they need with little direction. While centers have a table or a workspace that is available at the center, students also bring supplies to other worktables and put them back when they are finished using them. The most basic centers include Drawing, Painting, Collage, and 3D Sculpture. Very soon I hope to open Sewing, Weaving, Printmaking, and Beading.
I like to have the drawing center in the brightest area of the room. It allows students drawing from observation to have the best natural lighting possible.
The Drawing Center has a variety of drawing materials. I try and often introduce a new medium to the center as often as possible. I have currently removed markers from this center because many of the students would not try anything new and seemed rather uninspired using this common classroom tool.
I try to put every type of material the students will need in each center. Pencils and erasers can be found at each one (which saves me a lot of questions about where to find them!) I have also supplied the center with individual mini color wheels to take with them for their color mixing endeavors.
A funny comic is a good way to teach proper brush care. Humor can be a very effective teacher, and you definitely have a lot of it in an art room.
Each type of paint is labeled and each grade is instructed as to which ones they are allowed to use. I have labeled the acrylics "Ask Permission" since my 5th and 6th grade students are the only ones who have unlimited access to them. If you post and clarify directions about pouring paint (my rule is that pools are no bigger than the size of a quarter), then even the youngest students can get their own paint supplies.
Paper in this center is organized by types. This is very important because the less time students have to spend rummaging around to find what they need the better.
I also have posted directions on how a collage is built. Students will often concentrate more on the styles of paper and photos from magazines rather than designing and overlapping their work.
3D Sculpture Center
Menus in the 3D Sculpture Center demonstrate various ways of attaching or using materials. Clearly stated rules about labeling, size limits, durability, and visual appeal of work are posted as well.
Materials are organized in within the view of
the students and everything is labeled. I try and emphasize the necessity of not being wasteful with store bought materials, but I also encourage them to use as much of the donated, recycled materials as they would like.
Right now my storage system is a bit overwhelmed, but each grade has a shelf. Usually after a center has been opened and used for several weeks it's popularity wanes and production decreases somewhat. At that point there is a lot more room for student work. This is another reason I have a size limit in my class.
This is one of the most important parts of my classroom. Organized cleaning supplies help guarantee a chaos free clean-up time. I just cant explain it, kids LOVE spray bottles and rags. I put my rags on clothespins to ensure they dry out properly (plus, they love clipping them up there, so I never find them shoved in corners or left on the floor).
I have cleanup responsibilities posted in case I ever need to review the expectations. Even just having the list there seems to be a reminder that this is a serious part of behaving like an artist.
I have become a madwoman when it comes to labeling. Since kids absolutely drool over the thought of spraying down the tables (which oftentimes becomes the only thing they do during cleanup. It is not uncommon to watch a child spray every table 36 times without even the concern of wiping it down.), I made sure to give clear directions on how much is needed. I buy concentrated lavender Lysol cleanser and refill the bottles often. The art room always smells lovely.