Bright Ideas {Art Tips and Tricks}

I adore art.  I really do. We do art at least once a week in my room. It is always tied to Social Studies or Science, and 99% of the time it’s tied to the fluency passage we are reading during the week. I love fluency, and it’s a BIG part of my curriculum.
How can I fit in that much art? Easy! Here are four bright ideas to make art super fun and fast!
Lost glue cap? No problem!
So here is my two-pronged approach to the “lost glue cap DRAMA” in first grade.
#1. I number the kids at the beginning of the year, and I write their numbers on their glue caps with a Sharpie. Then the kids know who a lid belongs to.  BUT sometimes a glue cap just disappears, like magic. When that happens, it’s no problem. 
#2. I keep a Ziploc bag of glue caps in my desk. We never throw away a glue cap. EVER. The old glue stick goes in the trash but the lid goes in my desk. So when one gets lost, a child can look through the baggie and find one that matches their kind of glue stick. When they find one, I rub off the old number, and I put their number on their “new” cap. EASY, EASY, EASY!
Lost piece? Check the carpet! When we are doing art, I tell the students to throw their trash and scraps onto the floor.  It makes the room look very “festive”, but it helps in a lot of ways.  The kids stay seated instead of hoping up to go to the recycle bin and poking a friend on their way back to their desk! Second, when a kid shouts out, “I lost my leprechaun shoe!”, I calmly reply, “Check the floor, lovebug & shoulder buddies, please check your desks for an extra shoe.” Sometimes, kids “accidentally” take their neighbor’s stuff. If it hasn’t been “borrowed” by a neighbor, then it’s on the floor instead of lost forever in a snotty-tissue-filled trash can. I NEVER let my students get another piece (even though I end up with extras), because this teaches personal responsibility. The lost piece is always found if they care enough to look for it. Thank you EduKate and Inspire for the photo.  I forgot to take a picture of my “festive” floor. Yours was perfect!
Bright Ideas March
Googly eyes got you down?  Kids have a hard time gluing them on, and the adhesive ones are EXPENSIVE! So teach them the “chip & dip” trick.  The child holds the googly eye like a chip and lightly drags it across their glue stick which is the “dip”. When they have a small amount of glue on the eye, they eat the whole thing (just kidding). When they have a small amount of glue they place it on the art and gently press. No wiggling or rubbing it. All of the glue stays under the eye!
I do realize that this next tip reveals profound control issues, but I am going to share it anyway.  I have art crayons.  If the art or even a math lesson requires the kids to use a certain color crayon we pull out the “art crayons”. Listen, this is serious business, and it stresses me out. Do your realize there are 5 shades of blue in your crayon box?  In the old days, I would say, “Use your green crayon” and 3 hands would go in the air. Which green? The yellow green? The green green? The green yellow? It’s even worse with the purples! So I decided to have an art set.  Now, I grab the colors we will need from a shelf, put them on the floor, and team leaders grab the supplies. Where did I get the crayons for the art set?  They are our old crayons from years past, and the pencil boxes are a set a kids pencil boxes that I kept one year instead of letting the kids take them home. At the end of each trimester my kids get a new box of crayons and they sort their old crayons into the art boxes. They love sorting them, and it’s good reading practice. At the end of this year, try it. I promise you will LOVE your art set of crayons! Add a label to the outside of the box and put them where the kids can reach them. This way if Little Lucy loses her brown crayon she can help herself to one of the art crayons.
Bright Ideas March
Are you ready for more bright ideas??? How about some tips to tame classroom clutter? Hop on over to Jen’s blog for some bright ideas!


  1. Wow- great ideas! I too save glue stick lids. Sometimes I have "helpful" parents come in & think they're doing me a favor getting rid of them. haha I love the googly eye idea- they are a pain to glue! I am going to try your other ideas too! Thanks.

  2. MUAH!!! LOVE these ideas, girl!!!!
    Another one outta da park!

  3. Saving old glue caps is a brilliant idea!! I will have to try that! Loved the shout out, by the way! :) I love having a festive floor during art projects! Thank you for all of the great ideas!

    EduKate and Inspire

  4. We sort our crayons, too, girl! I'm all about control issues! :) Love, Love, Love the glue cap idea!! Why have I been throwing them out? No more! You always have the best ideas!!
    Peace, Love, and First Grade

  5. Nice post!!! Great ideas!!!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Heidi Butkus

  6. We will definitely be sorting our crayons this week. Then next week, I will give them a new box of crayons for the rest of the year! I love this idea. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Love these Katie! I too always had "art crayons" kept from years past and don't let kids get more pages when they loose theirs. I also number the glue sticks but never thought of just keeping some extra caps when a stick gets thrown away. Smart!

  8. As usual.... a giggle and a TON of GREAT information...all wrapped up in the prettiest little gussied up blog post! Love everything about your posts! you are the best!


  9. WHAT a freaking smart idea to keep the caps… why didn't I think of this?! Also absolutely love the idea of art crayon sets… I hear it so often, "Ms. Vvvvvvvv…. I loooooost my brooooown crayon!" Yes, I can tell, but I don't have extras! SO, this is a perfect solution. Thank you for sharing your bright ideas!

    Miss V's Busy Bees

  10. Fabulous ideas! The glue drives me crazy! I always say "I guess it grew legs and walked out!"
    Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations

  11. I love the glue cap idea! And the paper on the carpet - we are always losing something little then digging through the recycle bin. Genius! Thanks for sharing!

    The Second Grade Superkids

  12. I had to laugh at your crayons. I am the same way. We asked kids to by a pack of 8. Well do you know that the stores have crayons of 8 in shades, reds, and what not. We were just looking for the regular 8. So this year I took apart the 24 packs. I made the crayon sets of 8 plus peach, pink, and gray. I have them in a soap containers for each kid. I gave the extras to the art teacher. I just drives me crazy not having a real red or blue. I glad there was someone else out there like me.

  13. I also keep glue lids and number them. I have quite a few of them and have started to use them in my stations on the game boards, too. I love the dip and chip idea! I will use that the next time I use the googly eyes!

  14. I always wrote the kiddos' numbers on glue sticks and the tops, and it was a life-saver! I loved the way it took care of the mystery of the missing glue sticks! :)

    Hello Mrs Sykes

  15. Katie! Brilliant! I'm keeping caps. I'm saving old pencil boxes. Love it!

    Mrs, Rios Teaches Second Grade


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