Fine Arts Programs in Elementary Schools
For all Texas public school students, art learning begins in kindergarten. Elementary programs provide sequential art content and unique learning experiences at each grade level. Elementary students produce creative and imaginative pieces that:
- Develop perceptual skills
- Use a variety of media in multiple activities
- Reflect knowledge of art history
- Show art as an expression of cultural experience
- Foster skills of evaluation.
In the primary grades, art helps students become more aware of their physical environment, extend and develop the use of the senses, and utilize inventive thinking. Art programs support individual interpretation of ideas, thoughts, and feelings and provide opportunities to work in a variety of media. Teachers encouraging students to explore and express their responses to artwork.
In kindergarten through grade 2, students create two- and three-dimensional artworks, including drawings, paintings, prints, and constructions (e.g., puppets, masks). Art experiences utilize creative problem solving by encouraging children to be original and imaginative. Group projects allow students to exchange ideas and to work collaboratively. As students encounter art and produce their own art, they begin to understand that people often have different responses to similar experiences.
In grades 3-5, teachers build on students’ art knowledge and experiences, and the Art TEKS become more complex. At times, instruction must be individualized. Students who have had limited involvement with art begin with basic processes. As understanding grows, so does the ability to express ideas and respond to visual forms. Visits to museums and galleries are a good way to supplement sequenced class instruction, and they also foster interest in art and help students relate art to everyday life.
Students continue to develop visual literacy. Experiences that develop students’ awareness of line, color, texture, and form are fundamental to the grades 3-5 program. Examining the design, structure, and function of natural objects and of works of art enables students to appreciate art and make informed personal choices about art in their lives.
Third, fourth, and fifth graders continue making two- and three-dimensional art, including drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures, ceramics, fiber art, jewelry, photography, film projects, and electronic media projects. As students approach adolescence, they have an increased desire to apply art elements, design principles, and art techniques to their own creations. Their works reflect more deliberate decision making than earlier works, and they describe their thinking and artistic processes using more specific art vocabulary.
Developing sincere, informed art appreciation by interacting with contemporary and historic artwork is a key aspect of early art education. Furthermore, it can be a means for students to understand and value cultural diversity.
Significant learning in art is possible only when educators give careful attention to time and scheduling. Sufficient time must be available for teachers to teach and for students to learn the Art TEKS.
Districts make decisions about time allocations, meeting patterns, and class sizes. Time allotted to art includes instruction in art concepts and skills, completion of work, and distribution and cleanup of materials. Art education requires individualized instruction in a laboratory situation. Large numbers of students reduce the effectiveness of teaching and learning. A maximum of 25 students per class is suggested.
The specialist needs one duty-free planning and preparation period per day with scheduled intervals between classes. Classroom teachers may escort students to and from the classroom, providing security for the students and time for the art specialist to set up for the next class. The specialist may require additional assistance when the class contains students with special needs.
Specialists assigned to multiple campuses need an additional period for travel, record keeping, materials management, and preparation of multiple art laboratories. An additional benefit of having an art specialist as part of the faculty is flexibility in scheduling conference periods for elementary classroom teachers.
A quality art room is visually attractive and has the necessary equipment, supplies, and materials to teach the TEKS. Art spaces are flexible enough to be used for large group, small group, or individual activities. The art specialist has a well-stocked art room while another comparable room is also available for other teachers to use when teaching art. Outdoor workspace adjoining the art rooms allows for outdoor extension activities. Adequate storage space for supplies, materials, equipment, and works-in-progress is essential. Both open and closed storage is provided.