Artistic Habits “Around the Room”

My “Around the Room” activities have been a great success in my classroom for quickly introducing materials and concepts. This year I was inspired by some images on our TAB Facebook group that looked like quick intro activities to the studio habits of the mind. (thanks Stephanie Ulcej: stacking blocks

My room has 6 giant tables that seat between 6-8 kids. It makes a perfect set-up for 6 centers. I rotate the kids around each center for these games spending between 10-20 minutes per table, depending on the activity.

Persist CenterI just bought a big bag of blocks at the thrift store and was ready to add some architecture to my middle school classroom. Last year, I added a small carpet for the fiber center, but it also made a good spot for building. This area was for the habit of PERSIST. Students were instructed to work as a team to make the tallest tower possible. AND if it fell over, to persist in trying again. This center was probably the top favorite, who knew even 8th graders would love playing with the typically elementary staple.


Next center was OBSERVE. I tried to use some microscopes that I borrowed  from the science department. For back up I had some i-spy books so kids would have  something to do while taking turns with the microscopes. Unfortunately the scopes were too tricky for my 6th graders, and the lights underneath got so hot a kid got a little burn from touching it accidentally. I love the idea though, so I might keep an eye out for some other cheap, easy to use microscopes. The i-spy books were still popular. Kids were asked to use their observing eyes and draw some objects from the books.


My ENVISION table had a creative drawing task. I have a game called “cloodle” and “sculptorades” they are from the Cranium line of games. I put the game cards from both games in a tub together. Kids had to draw 2 cards and try to combine them into one drawing.


My EXPLORE table had a homemade spinner and sculpture supplies. Pipe cleaners, foil, tape, chop sticks and a few other things. This was another popular table.

My EXPRESS table had a bunch of laminated adjective cards that I had made for a previous are critique activity. They had the definitions on the back in case they didn’t know the word. They had oil pastels and black construction paper. The above drawing is based on the word political.

The final table was DEVELOP. Students had water color boxes with just primary colors and had to mix the secondary colors. I have laminated color wheels with some mixing formulas.

As part of this 4 day unit we also wrote notes in our sketchbooks to answer some questions that went with each table. We started each period with a review class discussion of the habits and we finished each period with a sharing of art and discoveries.

UPDATE: Find more info and resources on my recent post for my Art of Ed presentation here! or see my 2017 NAEA Presentation post here. 

3 comments on “Artistic Habits “Around the Room”

  1. This is really an amazing idea and enriching practice for students. I imagine repeating this throughout the year between quarters, units or even on shortened schedule days, too. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. What questions did you use to go with each table? P.S. I LOVE your “Around the Room” concept and everything you share to go with it (: I used painting around the room with last quarter’s middle schoolers and planning to incorporate even more this upcoming spring! Thank you!