When I heard that our school would have families pick-up a bag of supplies from the classroom teachers to start our online learning for the 2020-2021 school year, I knew I had to seize the opportunity and get art supplies into those bags.
After 17 weeks of asynchronous online learning in the spring and basing lessons off of what I assumed students had at home, I moved heaven and earth to get art supplies to families to support them as well as help me structure my lessons and instructions. So within 72 hours, I sourced, ordered, packed, and helped distribute over 700 art supply packs to almost all of our students. Here are my tops tips for creating art supply packs for your students.
Synchronous vs. Asynchronous
It is helpful to know whether you are facilitating synchronous or asynchronous or both before you start planning what supplies you want students to have at home. With asynchronous, students can work at their own pace, can pause a video, or seek help from an adult if needed. With synchronous, it is the opposite. Synchronous teaching lends itself well to two-dimensional artmaking. Supplies such as watercolor paint, colored pencils, drawing pencils, and markers are supplies that can give students a range of mediums to explore but also help you easily facilitated synchronously.
For asynchronous lessons, the materials provided can be examples of what they will need more of like cardboard and found objects and providing them with glue, tape, paint can allow for choice within the lesson. I created art packs, knowing I would be teaching asynchronously. Therefore students received a random assortment of supplies knowing that I could make videos to help them navigate the assigned project.
Use What You Have
From budgets to clearing out cupboards, using what you have in the art room is a good start to help you plan your art packets for kids. Also, many of us order materials ahead and things you planned to have used in the spring or fall could come in handy to use and distribute to students. Using what you have also referred to using the lesson you have and adapting them to online learning. The more you can use, repurpose, and reappropriated the easier it is for you and helps to uphold your curriculum standards and your thoughtful planning.
Use Food Containers
If you are using what you have, food containers are handy to repackage materials to send to students. From small cups to plastic bags, contact your local food vendors and/or check larger wholesalers of goods such as Gordon Food Service or Cosco to find what you need. I used soy sauce containers to put small amounts of tempera paint inside to help teach color theory lessons. Then whatever students have left over they can use for their own artmaking.
Include a Note
Make sure to put some sort of note inside or outside of the art supply bag to provide information. Whether, the notes says to wait to open the art pack, or informing students to return the supplies to school once allowed back on campus, it is time well spent to make it very clear what students and parents need to know about the supplies before they open them. I used large labels and put one on each bag to ensure the message was read and received.
Include a Sketchbook
Sketchbooks are a great tool to have for students to collate their artwork when they are creating at home and also to help you later for assessment or reporting. It also ensures that students have a quality paper to create on as many use copier paper which does not suit certain mediums very well. The expectations of the sketchbook can also serve an entire lesson. From showing students how to use and care for their sketchbook, to decorating it to make it their own, use this as a teaching moment; for students to understand how to use a sketchbook or visual journal like an artist.
Despite teaching different grade levels, I feel as these top tips can help any art teacher start to wrap their head around preparing supplies packs for students. I will warn you, it is a lot of work, but that time and effort is well spent as it will not only help you with planning but help your students continue to learn and grow through artmaking.