Twenty three years of making art with kids has allowed me to learn a few things along the way! Man-O-Man, I love a good system…and having one for painting sure makes the job a lot easier. I thought I’d share my method for paint distribution and clean up that I use with 6th grade.
Distribution: I place sweetheart cups in a shallow tupperware container, fill them with tempera paint, and use trimmed slurpee straws as the paint scoopers. The students share the paint trays in groups of two or three. I have nine trays of paint that can hold up to nine sweetheart cups in each. (I just supply the primaries and black and white so the students mix their own colors on their wax paper palettes.) The tupperware lid snaps on to keep the paint moist and the short slurpee straws stay right in the paint from class period to class period. I keep the paint stored like this for months stacked on a shelf, and replenish the containers as needed during class time while the kids work. Click on the pictures to enlarge.
Clean-Up: Cleaning up after a painting lesson with young kids has its challenges – most of which involve mess, lots of kids moving around the room, and water. To reduce the odds of paint induced chaos, I appoint two students as studio helpers and they are the only ones allowed at the sink. But what about their dirty hands, you ask? Well, I cut a deep slit in the large industrial paper towel roll provided in our school dispensers, creating perfectly sized individual towels with one cut. I feather the stack so that the towels are easy to separate when wet. I fold it in half and run the whole stack under water until they are moist all the way through, and squeeze them out so that they aren’t dripping. At the end of the class, with the students still in their seats, I walk around and give each kid a wet paper towel to wash their hands and then they use the same wet towel to wipe their table. I give them extra if their table is particularly messy. One student helper walks the room and collects the dirty towels in a small trash can, while the other helper is at the sink cleaning the dirty brushes. It works great for me…Give it a try!