Back to School Tips and Projects for the Art Teacher – Art is Basic

Hi friends! Many schools are already going back for the new school year and I thought I would round up some previous posts you may have missed from years ago that may help you come up with some ways to start your school year off right! The first section contains links and pictures from my blog. The second section contains blog posts from some of my art teacher friends!

Tips and Projects for Back to School from Art is Basic

In this blog post, Tips for the First Days of School, I compiled a list of tips from dozens of art teachers across different grade levels. Very helpful for new ideas! Click on the image below to see the blog post.

Tips for the First Day of School in Art Class

I often will go over the rules and procedures of the classroom first and then do an About the Artist sheet or Student Survey.

For the younger kids, a simple first day of art drawing is a great way to ease into the year. I found this idea from Beth Carter and made my own sheet for students to use.

After the rules intro and a simple survey or drawing, the first day is complete! Phew, you made it. For the first week or two of school I like to do getting to know you art projects such as All About Me art or name designs. All About Me projects are projects where there is usually a theme or format (like a puzzle piece) and the kids showcase their personality and interests within that format.

All About Me projects are always a hit and I have done lots of them over the years. A puzzle piece all about yourself is fun to make.


All About Me crayons are a fun project for the younger grades. I did this with 1st grade.

Crayon Bulletin Board

Folded Squash books about your students are a great way to get to know them at the beginning of the year. This project is great for older kids- I did it with 5th grade and up.

Here is a Getting to Know You foldable based on art history!

Here is an idea to make Artist Trading Cards with each card on a 9 sleeve sheet being one thing about yourself! (and yes, that is our school Artsonia site. You can see lots and lots of artworks from over the years if you click on View More Projects. I tend to keep updated on Artsonia more than my blog. I want the parents to be able to view a lot of their children’s artwork before it even gets sent home. Plus, it’s an awesome fundraiser and digital portfolio! I use it all the time when I am writing report cards or having parent-teacher conferences. 10/10 would recommend!)

Name designs are always fun to start the year with. And using names in their artworks will help YOU to learn all of the students’ names.

Here is another super fun name design with radial symmetry I used to teach when I taught 5th and 6th graders. It’s a little challenging, so the 5th and 6th grade level is probably the youngest I’d do it with.

Another option for the younger kids is to just use the first initial of their name and decorate with patterns.

First Initial of Names Art Activity

Many teachers start the year with a self-portrait. This can be a great way to get students making art about themselves, BUT it can be intimidating, so provide lots of handouts and guidance. Tie in an art project to the book All Are Welcome (affiliate link) and you have a great bulletin board display ready to go.

Here are a couple more of my Back to School blog posts.

3 Back to School Ideas

Make a Video with Your Rules for Back to School!

Heading back to school? Check out these other blogs for more tips on making this the best year ever!

I recommend these blog posts from some of my art teacher blogger friends! If you teach the older kids, like middle or high school, check out the Inside Out Art Teacher, Look Between the Lines and The Speckled Sink.

Growth Mindset in Art Education– from Glitter Meets Glue

First Day of School Advice (High School)– how to remember names- from Inside Out Art Teacher

High School Organization Ideas for New Teachers– from The Speckled Sink

7 Art Teacher Tips for Back to School– from Look Between the Lines

Attention Getters in the Classroom from Expressive Monkey

Top 5 Tips, Advice and Resources for First Year Art Teachers– from Ms. Artastic

Do you have any first day back art projects you’d like to share? Leave a comment below or send me a link to the project idea. I’m always looking for new ideas for my students!

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