Class Portfolio or Folder
Have students fold/staple/glue two 18×24 sheets of paper to make a portfolio to store artwork for the school year. In order to save time or depending on the age of students (K vs. 4th grade) the teacher may want to prepare portfolios ahead of time. Have students put their name and decorate the portfolios using crayons, colored pencils, or markers.
Decorating theme ideas: my favorite part of summer, my family, my favorite animal or pet.
Students could also cut & paste images from magazines, travel brochures, or old catalogs based on art concepts like shape, color, or size. The teacher could designate different classes by what students put on their portfolios.
Name Plaques & Tags
If students don’t have assigned seats, it may take several classes to get to know everyone by name. To help shorten the process, have students create personalized name plaques they can pull out each class and set at their desk/table. Have students fold designated paper “hot dog roll” style and create a little tent. Then students write their name on one side (or if there is time both sides) and have them decorate or personalize. Students could also decorate according to an art concept like contrast, complimentary colors, or an artistic style.
For name tags, give each student a piece of paper about 2×4 inches long. Have them decorate as they would the name plaques. When they are decorated, punch a hole in the top two corners. Have students thread yarn, string, raffia, or lacing through and tie to form a necklace.
Have each child draw a self-portrait. At the end of the year have them create another self-portrait. This is a good way to gauge student growth in skill, and interesting to see!
Art Journals: Have students complete a quick art task in a sketch book designated for classes short on time or for warm-ups. Sample ideas include: draw something that is small, HUGE, divide the page into 4 and draw 4 things that are blue, draw your favorite flower. The first day of class could be spent designing a cover for their sketchbook on paper that will be glued on.
Pass the Picture: Tell the class that you are going to tell them a story, they will draw a part of the story and then when instructed, pass their paper (to a designated direction) where the next student will add another piece of the story. They are to write their name on the back of their paper and wait for instructions. So, for example, the teacher will start telling a story about a dog and the first students will draw a dog and pass their paper. Then on his adventures at a farm, the dog meets a bird. The next student draws a bird, and the paper is passed. At the end of the story, the teacher collects the papers and returns to owner.
Crayola has some fun: Complete the Picture worksheets.
These first day of art class ideas and activities are wonderful for warming up your elementary students to art for the rest of the school year. Have fun!