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Organization in the Art Room

The following query was posted to our PAEA Facebook Page. Members chimed in, and their responses are below for your benefit and organizational enjoyment! I’m getting goose pimples already thinking about the wonderful ways to organize!!!!

“Please share some of your unique and successful classroom organizational devices/structures. How do you store 2-D work? How do you store 3-D work? What do you feel is necessary to always have on the table? What are your art room life hacks? Etc…”

Marita Fitzpatrick of Bodine High School in Philadelphia suggests: “For small 3d (our recent stuffed toys): I have a copy paper box for each class. The students put their work in manila envelopes, write their names on them and I have one person from each table collect the envelopes and return them to the box. For 2d, each table puts their work in folders marked w the table color (tables are color-coded) and that goes in the copy paper box. This box is marked, period 1, period 2, etc. I have a closet of shelves for ceramics and each kid gets a shoe box to store their stuff in. It keeps the others from touching the work and breaking it. Students wrap their work in dry cleaning plastic to keep it moist. I regularly have kids empty the drying rack, sort the work and put it in the copy paper boxes. I keep nothing on the tables, because the stuff disappears and they put trash in the containers. I store markers and colored pencils in plastic pencil boxes on open shelves in the room and number them. I never look at the numbers or count them, but the kids think I do, so nothing disappears. On those shelves, I also have scissors and other frequently used supplies that students have open access to.”

Alison Elizabeth of Lancaster, PA shares her planning strategy: “Each class I teach is a different colored sticky note. This calendar is glued into the front of my sketchbook (which I use for all of my demos, meeting notes, and conference notes). It’s all with me and ready to go at all times.”

Linda Keels suggests making the investment in folding tables from the local hardware store (she uses 3) for about $30-40 a piece—there is room to hold up to 6 classes worth of work (she teaches 12) which forces her to keep it moving and the kids to stay on track for 3-D things.

Eleanor A-Evans For stores 3D work, such as clay sculptures and paper mache on ‘mobile pan racks’ (like the one in the photo- thanking Google image search). Depending on your supplies resources, the cost on the average is under $90, and can be the solution for saving space and stowing away the masterpieces!

Julie Schedin share with us how her students creatively tackle this issue with a little design thinking! “My Crafts class yarn bombs a coat hanger. They own the airspace above their seat, and hang all work (basket weavings, etc) from the coat hanger in the drop ceiling. The room develops a type of “rainforest canopy” but a least we can keep 3d projects organized and handy.”

Judi Treffinger of Carlisle, and formerly the Carlisle Area School districts has an idea for yarn storage! “You know all those large gallon sized plastic food containers your cafeteria gets when they purchase food? I duct tape then together with the open sides up and use them to store and separate skeins of yarn. They can sit on a counter top, or stash neatly in a cupboard with open ends facing out- all colors are visible and yarn doesn’t get tangled!”

Moore College of Art and Design Alumni, Autumn Rae suggests art teachers to follow her Instagram: mrsdow_artroom where shes posts things about classroom display and specific grade levels k-5 . She posts lots of classroom things about organization what materials I use.

Autumn also shares:

“- Container store bins are the best!
– It needs to be organized and colorful for me to function. I cannot stand messes or piles.
– I keep messes at the middle table whenever possible.
– I use my drying rack when I can but I actually love rolling out a sheet of paper and either working on the floor with the kiddos or having them dry their work flat and organized on a sheet of paper. Work great for printmaking each student gets a row for all their prints.
– All my notes are on my Instagram that describe each photo and what it relates to classroom, display, or a grade level.”

Autumn teaches art to 881 students k-5 students. She describes, “We are an emotional support school with a high ESL population and also a title 1 school. I have put lots of my own money into my class but once the upfront cost is paid off then I have all these organizational systems in place for years to come. I need everything organized like I said but also kid friendly. I have created two closets for classroom teachers and stock it at the beginning of the year so they don’t ask me for supplies I need for my own classes.”

Woah Autumn! Thanks for all of that!!! Loooooove the colors!!! And there is no denying where those pencils came from!!

Daisy Konowal uses a system of table color folders. 2 sets- one for work in progress and one completed work. Also, Daisy uses sheets/fabric/blankets to cover her shelves to limit access to shelves.

Sunnylee Mowery of Philadelphia’s Greenfield Public School strives to make my classroom organization methods so easy a kid can do it! Each table is color coded and this helpful chart rotates at the start of each week so everyone knows who is in charge of what. The artists are expected to pass out work and supplies, monitor volume, tidy table bins and floors, and even call each other to line at the end of class.

Sunnylee has clearly labeled bins with teacher name are organized by grade level. All supplies that accompany the project are placed above in their grade section.

Sunny poses the question, “How do students monitor sound, you ask? The volume giro migrates to the table in charge of volume each week. If the room gets too noisy, the students “ring” the giro to signal to the class to quiet down. If we get 3 giro rings, we lose the privilege to talk.”Click Here for a link to the video of the magical giro sounds that have the power to quiet students!

Kim Horan Colasante, art teacher in the School District of Philadelphia  shares, “My routine is very much the same as Sunny’s. Each table has a color, table folders or student folders are matched to the table they sit at. I have a job chart, students give out folders, supplies, paint patrol, and floor sweepers. Jobs rotate weekly according to table colors. Supplies are located in front of the room and Barney’s Cleanup song plays at the end of every class 10 minutes to go. The students know to stop, put their work away and do their jobs. The ones that are done sing to barney. (I teach middle school) they dab to it also. It only plays for a minute so work must be away by the time song is done. then folders are collected and floors swept etc. 3D work is done a bit differently due to lack of space in classroom. When Barney plays each table brings me their 3d work and I place it in a special section so that they may retrieve it the following day. Clay is kept in large Rubbermaid containers until in it ready for drying.”

What do you do in your classroom?????

Felting a Sneak Peek…

Hi everyone!  There have been quite a few posts highlighting some awesome sessions coming up during the conference.  It’s really going to be hard to choose!


We’re still hoping for more people to send us their session descriptions and photos so we can highlight them (there’s still time!), but until then, I thought I’d show off some of my students’ work.  And hopefully entice you to come to my FREE session (ticket required, though, so get one!) called “The Future of Felting” on FRIDAY, 2-2:50 PM, in Wilson 434.


I’ll show you some felting techniques that I have used with my students, and ideas you can use to “felt” it into your curriculum (some felting humor for ya).  Using this form of fibers is an easy way to create sculptures and 3D art in the classroom.  img_6260This will be hands on, so bring your ideas and we’ll jump in!  Hope to see you there!

“Do we love our kids? Do they matter to us?”


There’s a lot going on in the world right now that affects many of our students’ lives, opinions, and environment as as well as our own. So when we are teaching or talking to our kiddos, how do we take everything into consideration? Are you wrestling with how to approach these issues in your art room?? I know I am. How do we make our art room the safe and nurturing environment it should be so that students can express themselves and grow emotionally?

This article was sent to me, and it resonates loudly. Click the text link below, and give it a gander:

How we talk with our kids 

“Part of our job as educators and caring adults is to make school a place where all students can find productive outlets for their emotions in response to the adversity and trauma they experience. But educators do not bear the sole responsibility for helping communities recover or changing systems that perpetuate injustice. ”

The article mentions that as educators we must be connected with our communities to help support our students and help them get through what the world is throwing in their faces. This, obviously is where we must go above and beyond our call of duty. This is our before and after school time, where we give ourselves selflessly to our profession without consideration of being compensated for that time. There are of course teachers who only work the contract, and I understand. BUT, if we truly want to affect change and to make a difference in our children’s lives and communities, then we have to give a little more of ourselves. I believe it to be our call of duty as educators. One does not get into this profession for the pay, nor do should they come into the classroom thinking their job starts and stops at the school doors. Being and educator in today’s world is demanding, and no one should have a veil over their eyes on that.

The article continues to give some advice on how we can help support our students, and as art teachers I believe we are the perfect conduit to follow through on those points. We see our students year after year- we are a constant in their life. We are the ones that can develop long and lasting relationships where students can come to trust us. Often, the art room is the place where they can fully express their dreams, hopes, rage, and personality and we need to remember to embrace that. Art educators need to give students that room for choice and expression so that they can fully realize their potential.

Naturally this article made me think about teaching from a trauma informed or trauma sensitive background. And during a summer where I am reevaluating and reconsidering my approach to classroom management, this article enforces my belief that we must be the calm and centered educator they need. If they lash out, don’t lash back. If they say hateful things, don’t take it personally. Always remain calm, and tell them you love them. And keep striving to make schools a better place, and the world a better place.

“So as we work to prepare our kids for the world they live in today, we will not stop fighting to create the world we want for them.”


BTW- This year’s theme for the PAEA is “social justice” and I hope that you consider how you approach these issues in your art room this year.

Thanks for letting me bend your ear.