My art club (grades 6-8) has been a little different each year.
The first year was with a special grant and the SOLE purpose was to create tiles for a public art project. This was a short term thing (10 weeks) and we had an artist in residence so I was mostly a helper rather than the leader/teacher.
Before, during and after this, I did five years of a girls only technology club, also grant supported. we did some clay animation, video games, websites, digital photo art and podcasts over the years. Not strictly art, but computers with artsy leanings.
For both of these clubs there was a strict attendance policy and we usually met twice a week, working on long-term projects.
Last year I started the general art club (not tied to a grant) Anyone that has an ASB card can join, no special attendance rules or long term projects required. Last year I just had about 7 dedicated girls that came every week and just wanted to draw and talk. They probably did more talking… and I didn’t do any “teaching”. It was open studio TAB style. I let them use any supplies that were in the open centers. I helped or guided those that wanted to learn a new medium. MOST of them had been in art CLASS with me so they were familiar with the centers. IF they were new I had an older member show them around and explain centers. Things would go in phases, everyone wanted to paint for a few weeks in a row, then do clay, then back to drawing. We tried doing a long term video project. But that never really panned out. Like you mentioned, since we only meet once a week, they seem to lose interest from week to week. The main goal for them was to have fun. The expectation from the school and community was simply to have a safe, fun after school place for the kids to be. Prior to my coming there had not been an active arts program for the known history.
This year our district boundaries changed and our school gained another 150+ students. (for a total of 750+ students school-wide) I started art club a month earlier than last year, primarily because I had kids asking me “When is art club going to start?”
The first meeting was already an increase over last year with 10 kids. We talked about what kind of things they were interested in creating and doing. I tried to build up the idea of entering district, state and art company type contests. We had two groups interested in working on some clay animation right away. I showed them some past examples, talked about the process and then dug out my boxes of toys, clay, props and stages. A few others went off on their own using things from the drawing, computer and collage centers that were open. It was an even mix of kids from last year, new kids already in my art class who all knew their way around and new kids to the school who don’t currently have art. They were all excited and thrilled to work together learning about animation or exploring.
For our second meeting, I dug out some t-shirts and fabric markers and fabric paints as well as some stencils. The couple older kids went off to continue their film from last week but all the rest of the now 16 kids (the same 10 from the first week plus 6 more) were excited to make personalized art club t-shirts. We are really pushing school spirit this year to improve our overall school community and change opinions of our climate long held by people outside of our school. I thought art club shirts would be a great addition to our school spirit. I was blown away with the number of kids (I will have to bring more t-shirts next week for the kids that didn’t get one this week.) and their excitement was totally contagious.
We do offer a free snack (provided by our lunch program, since we are almost 70% free/reduced lunch status) and this year we have an activities bus that leaves at 5:15pm. This means club this year goes from 2:45pm (when school gets out) till 5:00pm (time to clean up and get settled on the bus.) Previously, I had only gone till 4 or 4:30 pm. This seemed like plenty of time. But I am amazed by how much more the kids are getting done with the new time of 5pm. I just hope they stay engaged for the full time. But that doesn’t seem like it will be a problem.
I am so JAZZED by the energy this club is already generating. I still have kids picking up permission slips and asking if they can join after cross-country season is over. Or current members asking if their friend can join. and MANY kids asking why we don’t meet everyday! I have a “cap” at 20 kids mostly for management reasons. But I MAY be forced to expand that or move to 2 days with a group A and a group B. I can only hope that it remains this vivid!