5 Fun ART-from-a-CART Lessons To Get You Started

Teaching Art

Learning that you will be teaching ART-from-a-CART is overwhelming. From rethinking your materials, processes, procedures to adhering to new hygiene and social distancing standards, it’s a lot to let sink in. I finished my 2019-2020 school year teaching ART-from-a-CART for three weeks and was able to facilitate push-in art lessons for my 1st & 2nd Grade students. Here are the 5 art lessons that can get you started and give you some footing before branching out to more logistically changing materials and processes but that are also relevant, fun, and creative!

Good Germs

Inspiration: This is a very topical lesson that can spur great discussion and is very obtainable to all students. I got the idea from a distress doodling session I attended where we simply painted different shapes with watercolor and then added designs and patterns on top with pens. Because we were in the first few weeks of COVID closures, my shapes and patterns produce a germy inspired work of art. I adapted the idea into a lesson for 1st & 2nd graders.

Introduction: I started by asking students what they knew about germs – they knew a lot and had a lot to say. Then I steered the conversation by introducing two main types of germs, viruses, and bacteria. I explain that many are harmful, like the virus COVID-19, which is why we need to wear masks, wash our hands, and socially distance but some germs, are good germs and that we actually need them to stay healthy. I then showed some images of good bacteria that can live in our stomach and help us break down our food. I also reviewed organic shapes and how to use shapes and colors to build a pattern.

Process: Students then began painting organic shapes across two pages in their sketchbook using their own set of watercolor paints, water cup, and brush. Once they were finished, they returned their paint palette and paintbrush to a tray and emptied their cup of water in a bucket before using their own set of provided oil pastels. Because the oil pastels can draw on slightly damp paper, the students could start straight away adding lines shapes and colors to their organic shapes.

Clean-Up & Sanitization: Students returned the oil pastels to a tray and closed their sketchbooks. If their paper was too wet, I simply had them blot the surface with a paper towel before closing and storing their sketchbook. To sanitize, I brought the materials back to the art room and laid out the closed paint palettes and open pastel in their sleeve and sprayed everything down with 70% rubbing alcohol allowing them to dry before the next lesson. For the paintbrushes, I simply washed them in soap and water as usual.

Murakami Super Flat Flowers

Inspiration: If you are worried about set-up and clean-up when you are starting out, this lesson is a great way to ease into your routines as well as having some of the artwork lend itself to a collaborative display. I facilitated this lesson with 1st & 2nd Graders but it could be easily modified for younger or older.

Introduction: Muramki’s super flat flowers are iconic therefore I started the lesson simply asking students if they have seen the super flat flower before. I then asked what Elements of Art they saw as well as how it made them feel. After talking about the life and art of Tashaki Murakami, I demonstrated how to recreate his style of eyes and mouths on the board.

Process: Students received a worksheet that has four flower templates on it as well as an example sheet with different eyes and mouth styles. Students were asked to create one flower trying to recreate and practice Murakami’s style of features and solid colors and then the other three flowers they could make their own features and designs. Students received their own set of 16 colors Crayola markers. I stored them in a plastic container to make it easy to clean, transport, and dole out. Students then kept two flowers for themselves and I took two to use for a collaborative display.

Clean-Up & Sanitization: Students simply put the markers back in the plastic tray and I then loaded them up on a larger tray which stacked on my cart shelf. To sanitize, I simply sprayed the markers down in their containers with 70% rubbing alcohol in between classes and let them dry.

Line Mapping

Inspiration: Once we found out we were going to be pushing into classes, the music teachers and I discussed some ways to integrate our lesson to make them more enriching. We came up with an idea to have the music teachers start with a music mapping lesson where students listen to music and use lines to show the beat, rhythm, and pace of the music. The music teachers had students create the line maps in their art sketchbooks so in the following art lesson we could add other Elements of Art to their work.

Introduction: The class began by having them explain what they did in their music lesson. I then briefly talked about Wassily Kandinsky and how his artwork was heavily influenced by music and how we are going to add more Elements of Art to their line map to create art inspired by music. For materials, I showed how they can use dried-up water-soluble markers to create a watercolor quality to their artwork. This is a great way to use up old markers before switching out to new ones.

Process: Students each received a plastic container with about 5 different dead markers and a small cup of water to dip them in. Students listened to different styles of music while they added shapes, colors, value, texture, and more lines to their work.

Clean-Up & Sanitization: Students simply put the markers back in the plastic tray and I then loaded them up on a larger tray which stacked on my cart shelf. To sanitize, I simply sprayed the markers down in their containers with 70% rubbing alcohol in between classes and let them dry. I did switch out the markers that were completely dead, recycled them, and then added more markers to the containers to top them up.

Mona Lisa Make Over

Inspiration: This lesson was originally supposed to be a substitute plan but I have never actually had to use it so I thought it would be fun to try it out with students. This can be a simple make-and-take lesson or can be glued into students’ sketchbooks – either way, it is a really fun lesson where students get to really show their sense of style and personality.

Introduction: Mona Lisa is a bit of a mascot in the art room. From the Mona Lisa Quiet Poster, Mona Lisa Bell, and my everyday Mona Lisa apron accessory, she is EVERYWHERE! So, I thought it could be fun to give her a makeover! I gave a quick mini-lesson on the proportion and talked to students about using their magic finger to plan before their place their lines and then let them begin.

Process: Because I was facilitating this lesson on the last day of school, I gave students the printed Mona Lisa image on a piece of copier paper. Then students used a thick black permanent marker to draw before using the dead water-soluble markers to add some color. The watercolor markers are great because they cover the surface area faster than coloring with regular markers and is less set-up and clean-up as painting.

Clean-Up & Sanitization: I followed the same clean-up and sanitation procedure as the Line Mapping lesson but instead of putting sketchbooks away, students simply took their Mona Lisa painting with them to take home.

Abstract Painting

Inspiration: The Elements of Art are the cornerstones of my Lower Primary Art program so for my 2nd Graders’ final lesson so I decided that they had to create an abstract painting using only Lines, Shapes, Color & Space to be able to graduate to 2nd Grade, Visual Art. The kids were very excited about this important challenge and I was also able to see and reminisce of each student’s unique way of making marks.

Introduction: After explaining the requirements for graduation, the students and I had a discussion about Abstract Art and what it means. I then showed a few examples of Abstract Art before I demonstrated how they will use two pages next to each in their sketchbooks to create their Abstract work.

Process: Students began by drawing different kinds of lines that walked across their pages crisscrossing and filling the space. Once finished, they returned their oil pastels and retrieved their own set of watercolors, water cup, and a paintbrush to begin adding color. Students could paint the entire surface, work within the shapes, and create patterns to create their work.

Clean-Up & Sanitization: Students returned the paint palettes and brushes to a tray and dumped their water in a bucket. To sanitize, I followed a similar procedure as previously outlined in the above lessons.


7 thoughts on “5 Fun ART-from-a-CART Lessons To Get You Started

  1. This is all so inspiring and helpful! What kind of sketchbooks do you use? It looks like they hold up really well and it’s a great solution to not having to manage all the paper.

    1. Hi Alison! Sinceret thanks for reaching out! The sketchbooks we use are ordered from a printing company in Hong Kong where my school is. They are very durable and hold up great. Sketchbooks are the way to go whether you can find ones similar or different, definitely a must!

      1. Thank you!! That’s a great idea to get them from a local company. I will definitely look into some local places in my area, and I’m definitely going to use them this year after reading your posts! 🙂

  2. These are great ideas! Thank you for sharing! I would also be interested in the handout you created if you would be willing to share!

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