12 Life Changing Classroom Art Tricks

12 life changing classroom art tricks - create less mess and more art in your early childhood and elementary classroom

You want to do more art in your classroom but you don't want the MESS. You know all the reasons why you should do more art in your classroom. You know your kids love creating, painting, and glitter. But aftermath of an amazing art project can look like a tornado went through your classroom. Check out these 12 amazing life changing art tricks and you will be excited to do art in your classroom again!

1. Baggie Paint Cup Liners 
So simple and so amazing. Just line your paint cups with a baggie, fill it with paint, snap on the lid, and put the brush in. When you are ready to change out the paints, just wash the brushes and lids. The paint cup will be CLEAN!

I keep my brushes in my paints for a week. I just can't find the time to wash them daily. This set of brushes has lasted me for over 2 years. The brushes are made by Crayola and I found them at Target.
12 life changing classroom art tricks - create less mess and more art

2. Trash Buckets and Supply Buckets 
Kids don't have to leave the activity to throw away trash or get another supply. It is all on the table! 
12 life changing classroom art tricks - create less mess and more art

3. Shape Paper Punches
You will NEVER have to cut out tiny shapes again! Start collecting paper punches NOW! They are a life saver. I buy mine from craft stores when they are on sale. They come in all kinds of different shapes, sizes, and fun designs. Keep them in your art center for kids to use too. It is a fun way to sneak in fine motor work and kids LOVE them!
12 life changing classroom art tricks - create less mess and more art

4. Keep Extra Shapes from Craft Projects
 Don't throw extra shapes from projects away. Keep a bin of paper shapes for students to use in your art center. They come in handy when you only need a few shapes or for shape collages!

5. Keep Glitter in Salt Shakers (or empty sprinkles containers)
I found these plastic salt shakers at the Dollar Tree a year ago and they are amazing! They work great for colored sand too! If you want less glitter to come out when they shake it, just hot glue a few of the holes closed at the top. 
12 life changing classroom art tricks - create less mess and more art

6. Keep Tubs of Collage Materials ready to GO!
Save prep time and keep tubs of various collage materials in plastic tubs in a cabinet. I keep cut ribbon, tissue paper, paper, cut straws, string, small foam objects, and eyes in plastic tubs in my art cabinet. I make a ton at the beginning of the year (the buckets were full) and they last ALL year! These tubs are just are food containers I found at the Dollar Tree. Bonus...they come with lids too!
12 life changing classroom art tricks - create less mess and more art

7. Keep Drawing Tools in Buckets 
Need makers for a table activity? Just grab a few buckets to set on the table. Want to take small group outside? Just grab a few buckets and go outside.  The buckets are easy for teachers and kids to grab when they need them. I keep colored pencils and markers in buckets. I keep crayons in clear food containers so you can see the colors easily.
12 life changing classroom art tricks - create less mess and more art

8. Keep Large Trays at the Drying Rack (so they small things don't fall through)
It is so frustrating and sometimes heartbreaking to a child (and teacher) when they worked so hard on an art project and it falls. I keep trays next to the art rack for all the tiny treasures kids make.
12 life changing classroom art tricks - create less mess and more art

9. Paint Tablecloths
Find an old sheet and turn it into a paint tablecloth!  When you life up the tablecloth all the paint and glue is on the tablecloth and NOT the table. Don't worry about setting it out to dry. I just fold it up, wet paint and all and put it on the shelf. It easily pulls apart when you go to use it the next time.
12 life changing classroom art tricks - create less mess and more art

10. Keep Art Smocks at Kids Level
Set the environment up for students to be independent! Put the  art smocks and small trays in a place where students can get the out and put them away by themselves. 
12 life changing classroom art tricks - create less mess and more art

11. Cover the Art Easel with Plastic
You can find plastic by the roll at a fabric store (some Walmart stores have it too) or you can use a clear shower curtain. I was covering it with a plastic table cloth and changing it at the beginning of each school year. Then found Prekinders tutorial and she used thicker plastic. You can read all about it here.
I taped a border strip to the back of my easel (the middle part is not attached). Some of my kids can't reach the top of the easel.  They always need help clipping their paper on and clipping it off the easel. Not anymore! Students clip their paper to the boarder! It is at their level and they can do it independently!  WHOOO!
12 life changing classroom art tricks - create less mess and more art

12.  Drying Rack at the Sink
No more water puddle from your art supplies air drying! Just plop the tray, brush, etc. in the drying rack to air dry. So simple and so wonderful!
12 life changing classroom art tricks - create less mess and more art

I wish I new ALL these tricks when I first started teaching! Oh well, better now than never.

Remember these life saving art tips...Pin this on Pinterest!
12 life changing classroom art tricks - create less mess and more art

Thanks so much for reading until the end.  Go grab your Art Easel Routine FREE from my TPT store. Just click on the cover below!





17 comments

  1. These tips are great! I am definitely going to put glitter in salt shakers and I have already started using paper punches for shapes.

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  2. I am such an obsessively organized, clean person in the classroom and I'm banging my head on the wall wondering why I haven't figured out half of these myself! The Easel and Paint Cup trick is going up TOMORROW! Thank you :)

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  3. Thank you so much for this post and tips! I will be definitely using these tips in my classroom. I was curious as to where I can find the document that you have up in between the easels and shows the kids how to use the paint center. I looked through your store, but couldn't find it. Thank you so much!

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    1. Just posted it! Here is the link to FREE Art Easel Routine in my TPT store. https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Art-Easel-Routine-for-Preschool-Pre-K-and-Kindergarten-2621207

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  4. I am definitely trying out the baggies in the paint cups...great idea! We use a colorful twin size flat sheet on our easel, and take it home once a week to wash...easy clean up! Thanks for all the ideas!

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    1. Using a flat sheet is a great idea! Here is the link to FREE Art Easel Routine in my TPT store. https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Art-Easel-Routine-for-Preschool-Pre-K-and-Kindergarten-2621207

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  5. I love the simplicity and colorful pictures of your labels! Are these in your store somewhere? I am moving to pre-k and never thought of things being labeled so the kids could find things or put back correctly!

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    1. I made them but do not have them in my store.
      Labels are amazing for pre-k students!It helps them (and teachers) so much.

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  6. Bonus tip to go along with your baggie paint liners... squeeze a little dish soap in the paint before you put it out for the kids. Doesn't make a difference in the consistency, but it is much easier to get out of clothes and brushes! :)

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  7. AHHH!!! This is the best blog post ever! For real- I can't wait to set up my art center next Wednesday when I get into my new PreK classroom! =)

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  8. I buy tempera paint in large containers, but I use empty/sterilized, squeezable ketchup bottles to hold the paint for everyday use. It is easier to handle, nothing ever gets clogged (like paint does in pumps), the squeezing allows for just the right amount of paint (no accidental pump explosions or container glops, and the kids think its wild to see green and purple "ketchup" when we're ready to paint. I did a call out during the summer for people to save those for me, and bought some myself in bulk (we go through a lot of ketchup at our house). It took a little while to get containers for all my colors, but now, it is so easy to refill and use those rather than the gallon pump containers.

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  9. Your side by side art easel has been on my mind for days! It looks as if you took apart a traditional easel and reconstructed them to be side by side. Please share how you did it. Thanks so much for the freebie too! Can't wait to use it this year!

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  10. Hi Jackie! I just found your blog and I think it's awesome! My school just switched to multi age this year so I am really enjoying exploring your blog!:)

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  11. Are you thinking of adding your labels to your store? Not just for this center, but all of them? I really like them!

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  12. It's on my to do list but I don't know when I will get to it.

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  13. absolutely agree on your labels being available! It COMPLETELY BUGS me that my graphics are all different on my labels!

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