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I love watercolors. They’re simple to use and they allow students to focus on painting without have to spend time mixing colors. (Have you ever had a student spend 15 minutes mixing one color only to have to clean up as soon as she is ready to use it?). I also use tempera and acrylic paints with younger students, but I often wait until a little later in the year when routines are established and they can manage getting, using, sharing, cleaning and returning more supplies.

Because students usually use watercolors without mixing colors (although you can also mix them!), I like to give them a variety of colors. A few years ago, I bought some new sets of Crayola Watercolors, 16 Color Set. The one thing I don’t like about this set is that the pans are not refillable. (The Crayola Watercolors, 16 Brilliant Colors Set is, but it’s almost twice as much and doesn’t have a clear cover, so you can’t see the colors until you open it.) Luckily I had a bunch of extra single-strip plastic watercolor strips. After a using the sets for a year, a lot of colors were empty, so I replaced the non-refillable strips with refillable ones. I also ordered Crayola Watercolor Refills and Prang Watercolor Refills to replace colors as they get used up. (Because certain colors are more popular than others and run out more quickly.)

In order to keep all of my refills organized, I sort them into an old marker box. (I love marker boxes and use them for so many different things.) This way I can see when a color is running low and when I need to order more refills.

Because watercolors are so popular, I try to clean the containers every few months to keep the trays clean and the colors fresh. Here’s what I do:

  1. Take out the plastic strips.
  2. Wash the watercolor containers.
  3. Set the containers in the drying rack to dry.
  4. Replace the plastic strips.
  5. If the strips are really dirty and I’m feeling ambitions, I’ll pop out all of the tiny refill pans, wash the plastic strips and then refill the colors (and replace the ones that have run out).

What are your favorite supplies? What creative solutions do you have for managing supplies and minimizing costs?

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Our school is currently under renovation, so we’ve moved into a temporary building for the next two years. It look a lot of work, but I’m finally feeling settled in my new space.

Here are a few pictures of my room…

I’m not the only one who likes the new set up… D in kindergarten loves looking around the room and drawing what he sees!

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I am thrilled to have my own classroom this year! I’ve spent the past two weeks cleaning and organizing the space and I’m really happy with the results. It’s not completely finished yet, but I realized that I like being able to leave some empty space open for a little while before I decide how I want to use it. I also know that some things will change once my classes start to get messier.

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Check out some more pictures of my room…

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Plants: I bought two plants at a local gardening store, a Croton Plant (also called Joseph’s Coat) and a Dracaena Reflexa Plant (also called Song of India). The Croton originally came in one pot, so I split it into three smaller pots to give it more space to grow… and because I wanted a way to have more plants on a budget. 😉 Both of these plans are fairly low-maintnace and could be interesting to use for an observational drawing assignment.

Quotes: I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to graphically-designed inspirational quotes. I printed out a few of them and hung them around the room along with some famous art prints.

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Desk
: I don’t have a lot of free wall space, so I use a standing desk. I keep large visuals in the shelves.

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Prep Table: I keep the current materials/reference images I need for the lessons I’m teaching each week on this table.

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Rug Area: Another Pinterest find, I got the instructions for creating my “rug spots” here. I used spray paint that I bought at a local hardware store. It was cheap and super easy to use.

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Tables & Supply Bins: Each table is marked with a colored piece of paper. I used a die cut machine to cut out ovals from a 9″x12″ piece of paper and then taped the ovals onto my supply bins. When students clean up, they return the supplies to the bin and then place the bin on the matching oval.IMG_9647

Star Table: I use this table to set out some of the materials for the lesson I am teaching (usually the paper). I also created this table as a place to send kids who need to work independently.

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I also posted “Take a Break” instructions near this table.

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Cabinets: I have a bunch of small cabinets along the walls of my room. I labeled each one with a tiny sign so that I remember what’s in them.

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I also have three tall cabinets in my room. I use one for storing paper, one for student supplies, and one for student work.

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This is the inside of my paper closet. I keep larger paper in the cabinet and have a separate spot for students to access pre-cut paper.

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On the second day of art, my fourth grade students who finished designing their folder had the option of choosing an object from the supply cabinet and drawing it. I then laminated the drawings and taped them to the closet so that you can “see” what’s inside the closet.

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The shelves in the student work closet are labeled with binder clips and box tops that correspond to each class I teach. I got this helpful idea after seeing this BuzzFeed article.

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Seating Charts: I gave students assigned seats on the first day of art. My seating charts are color coded by grade level and match the binder clips and box tops in the student work cabinet.

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Mixed-Media Shelves: These shelves are where I store my recycled materials. I can’t wait to use a lot of these with my 4th graders when I teach them about inventions!

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Sinks: I labeled my two sinks (the colors around the letters show kids which tables use those sinks) and then decorated them with rainbow fish made by my kindergarteners. This year, only 1/2 of the K classes came on the first day of school, and the other half came on the second day. (Then they all started a full today together the following week.) Because I had smaller groups of kindergartners on the first two days, I did a collaborative printing project. First I read the book Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister and demonstrated how to make a fish print using a rubber mold. Then I split the class into pairs, and students took turns painting, printing, and decorating their fish with metallic scales.

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Voice Levels: I came across this voice level chart here. I renamed some of the levels and combined the loudest level into one category. A normal art class should be around level 2. If it gets too loud, I point to the chart, tell them where they are, and remind them where they should be.

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Clean Up Jobs: Each table has four chairs at it. During clean up time, students choose a job from the chart and do it. If a table has less students or someone is absent, table mates are expected to take on another job or work collaboratively to make sure all jobs get done.