Let’s Look at How-To Create an Effective, Organized Art Lesson Plan. I love Art. Teaching Art is a wonderful experience where you can create wonderment for children. What’s not so fun is creating Art Lesson plans, and this can be a daunting task. Planning effective Art Lesson plans is a skill to be learned. Here are my Top Tips for Creating Effective Art Lesson Plans that Keep you Organized, Planned, and Confident (and will have your Administrators smiling).
How-To Create an Effective Art Lesson Plan
I am asked this question all the time: How do you create effective lesson plans? Well, it has been a lot of years of practice, refinement, and learning tricks and routines to make this (in my opinion, boring) task a quick and painless process. No matter much I hate actually creating lesson plans, I appreciate them and my lessons are focused and clear and have beautiful hooks, middles, and conclusions when I take the time to think them out. It makes me feel confident and the learning is that much deeper.
So to me, it is like folding socks. I hate folding socks and it is one of the most painful tasks someone could ask me to do. But do I appreciate the effect of folded socks? Yes. It means my socks actually match for once and my outfit looks like I tried to make it happen for once. It makes me look “put together”. And this is true for your lesson when you teach it too. It is not random like picking any random sock out of your bin and just going for it. HAH, see my metaphor got there eventually.
So I am going to dish it all out for you, the Steps for Creating Effective Art Lesson Plans so you can be confident and teach amazing, put together Art Lessons.
The entire theme of this post is: “Do it once. Be done forever”. Work is always hard upfront but it will pay off and save you time and keep you planned and organized so you will have more time to teach and will be spending less time making lesson plans on evenings and weekends.
Do it once, be done forever.
Now, How-To Create an Effective Art Lesson Plan.
Create a Lesson Plan Template
So How-To Create an Effective Art Lesson Plan? I was once told by an extremely organized teacher to “do it once”, and by that she meant to make the Lesson Plan perfect one time and keep it forever. I have taken this piece of advice and used it for my entire teaching career and attempt to apply it to anything I can get my hands on. Why re-invent the wheel and re-make the lesson year after year? Do it once.
To expand on this, I also make templates. I make lesson plan templates for myself and have it all formatted for where I will put the content or standards, steps for the lesson, you name it. If there are things that I do often, or use often, I will have that already typed in and if I need to, I delete and replace.
There are 2 ways to do this: digitally or on paper and photocopy. If you’re doing it digital, I recommend making it on Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides because you can make graphics and Text Boxes anywhere on the digital page (remember to change the slide dimensions to paper size you typically use, such as 8.5 x 11). Or if you like paper, create a master template and photocopy a stack. Boom, half the work is done.
Another thing to smooth out the process is to have your standards in an easy-to-copy place. If it is digital, I would have them on a digital page like Google Docs and then just copy and paste it right onto your lesson plan as you go. Or if you’re a paper person, type it out then print off your master copy and put it into a clear page protector with your master lesson plan. Boom, done. It takes time the first time, but it is JUST one time you do it. Do it once, be done forever.
Pick the Standards or Curricular Content
The next step is to pick the Art Standards or Curricular Content you’re using. Familiarize yourself with what one you’re expected to use (it is different everywhere, and although they all seem to be very similar, they’re not the same). I print off and have my grades in the front of my day planner so I have easy reference.
So now once your template is done, you need to pick which standards you’ll be covering in the lesson you’re planning. If you did the first step, you’ll already have your standards formatted into a copy-paste Google Doc so just open it up, hit Ctrl + C (copy) or Apple C? Command C? Whatever Mac is. Then hit Ctrl + V (paste) into the lesson plan template (don’t forget to save a copy of the original version) and you’re done.
Do it once, be done forever.
You have a target set, now let’s decide how to teach it.
So how are you intending on measuring success and student understanding? Will you use formative or summative? Will it be a worksheet or will it be a project where they show their understanding? Do you love quizzes (I don’t believe in them but you do you)? Will there be a critique or Peer-to Peer feedback? Will there be opportunities for students to self-assess and reflect and comment on their own personal growth and what they learned and set goals for where they want to go next (love this)?
Decide on what assessment you will do NOW and write that into your lesson plan. You will communicate this to your students as well at the start so they know what they will be learning, why, and how they will be measured. This is being clear with expectations and assessment.
But plan for how you will assess first and this will ultimately inform how you’re going to design the lesson. For example, if you want to have a student-teacher conference and a project (artwork) to use to assess understanding of technique and concepts learned then you will most likely have them create and artwork.
TIP: Remember that your assessment will not only inform you of how your students are progressing, but it will inform you of where you need to go next or if there is any gaps in understanding or commonalities amongst your students. It tells A LOT.
Design the Art Lesson
Next is to, using your focus and assessment, design the Art Lesson. Make your example, decide on what it will be about, create a strong hook to capture them and get them excited to learn at the start, decide on Engagement and Participation strategies you want to use, and other elements you will use in teaching your lesson: books, worksheets, PowerPoints, technology, research, Art Making, video clips, documentaries, collaborative opportunities, Think-Pair-Share, modeling a lesson or technique/demonstration, etc.
Create a Realistic Timeline
Decide on a realistic time line for how long this will take your students. People ask me all the tie “how long will this project take a grade 4 class”. But honestly, t depends. Are you doing this in September or closer to Christmas? That will affect literally everything. As well, I’ve never had one class the same as others. Some are intuitive and grasp the process easily while others take a lot longer for literally everything. In addition, not all demographics are the same. One grade 4 classroom in one areas is not the same as a grade 4 classroom elsewhere (sure there are “standardized tests” but no one has a standardized life and this affects things too).
That being said, I can take a guess and it comes down to what mediums you’re using, if those kids have used them before or not, what other things you’re teaching, and if there is any drying time or kiln firing involved. It also is going to depend on how long the class is. If my classes are 1 hour but yours are 30 minutes, I will finish faster because there is more work time (because set up/clean up/line up eats up time too).
So my advice this: take a guess at what you THINK it should take, then add 2 buffer classes to your timeline. Because you might need it. Unexpected behavior. They just came back from a field trip. It was someone’s birthday and they had cupcakes before coming to your class. It was the weekend. The fire alarm went off. Children are humans and so, there are variables, and over 1000 things can trigger your timeline to get out of hand.
I never worked at any school where kids entered, sat down, listened 100% of the time, did literally everything I asked, got up quietly and left. I don’t think that actually exists because we teach people, not robots.
So add a buffer of 2 days. You might need some buffers, some you might not. Eventually, it will smooth out in the end.
Things to include in your Art Lesson Planning timeline:
-Introduction to the concept/lesson
-Time to create
-Drying time or firing time if applicable
-Peer-to-peer feedback/critiques/teacher-student conferencing/small group instruction
-Student reflections & goal setting for next art project
-Developing a display curated by the kids
-Conclusion to the lesson to reinforce the learning that occurred
Art Lesson Planning is a lot of work, especially at the beginning when you’re starting out at zero and don’t have a lot of experience before. I hope you take my advice and use it to hone in and refine your practice. I am confident it will make the whole process a lot more simplified, leaving you feeling less stressed and more confident (like you have 2 socks that match and you didn’t just randomly throw it all together).
Remember to do this well the first time. Do it once and save it in a digital folder, the cloud in organized folders for months and grades or subjects, or in your binders and put your masters in clear page protectors so they don’t get wrecked. Do it once, use it year after year and be prepared always.
Want fully planned art lessons?
My friend, fully planned art lessons is MY JAM. It is what I focus my days on: designing art lessons for educators, making art lessons for kids, and making my own art in my studio.
Need a time saver? Here is where you can find my art lessons and curriculum.
Find Single, Ready-to-Use Art Lessons: Ms Artastic on TeachersPayTeachers
Find a Fully-Planned Art Curriculum: Artastic Collective
Find Art Lessons to Stream Online for your Kids to Make Art: Artastic Kids