Today is the first day of school, and I always like to jump right in with an art activity. Who said that the first day is just the syllabus day? Not in Art Education!
The Getting to Know You Sculpture is inspired and gleaned from a fellow art teacher, Cassie Stephens. Cassie teaches at an elementary school so her prompts were things like “I can tie my shoes” and “I am missing teeth.” That is great for elementary kiddos, but I needed to adapt my questions to meet college student’s needs. I also did some larger categories such as play sports. While I am walking around the room if I see them make a black arch, I can ask what sport they play. I also have different shades of paper so they can pick their favorite, or add different colors for each item, such as, pets. I have seen up to six green arches for different pets.
The wildcard paper is the paper I painted last night. I cut it into strips, and it can be anything they want to share with the class. They can use as many or few papers as they would like.
Pictured is the painted paper before it was cut into strips, and all of the strips of paper on the table ready for ensemble.
I run this beginning activity as a quick Think-Pair-Share activity. Each student spends 30 minutes creating their sculpture quietly at their desk; this becomes the Thinking part of the three steps. I walk around and try to ask some leading questions. After the initial 30 minutes, I have them meet a colleague at their table to Pair up and ask about each other’s sculpture. I allow 5 minutes for this Pair time. The final step is when we all come back together as a class, and I ask for volunteers to Share out with the whole class something they learned about their new colleague. I have found it is sometimes easier for people to talk about someone else than themselves.
This sculpture is an excellent addition to my first day of class activities because it is quick and easy to build, doesn’t require many materials, and everyone can find it successful. I mean everyone! I hear many times a semester, “This is my first ever art class” and “I don’t have any creative bones in my body.” Everyone can be successful.
I hope this inspires your first day of school activities. I would love to hear from you if you try this Getting to Know You Sculpture in your classroom. You can download the handout here and then tweak it to fit your needs.
And just because it is in my head, here is the song Getting to Know You from the King and I!
I teach future art teachers at Emporia State University. Here is what is going on in my classes.