Sunday, April 15, 2018

Early Finishers...

What happens when they yell out "I am done"? My first thought is always "you are not a are not done". But what comes out of my mouth is..."Art is not a race, there are no points for finishing first in art"! 

When I first started teaching I would tell the quick finishers to go back and add something here or there or finish coloring the page leaving no white spots. I quickly found out that can be the fastest way to seriously mess up a kid's work. When students come to you they are usually already "done" in there heads, asking them to go back and work some more is like asking them to clean their own bedrooms. They will quickly slop though the motions of creating art just to get finished.  No one wants that. 

Now I ask THEM if there is an area of the page they feel needs some more work. Or sometimes I tell them to find a classmate to help them see if there is an area that might need some more attention.

I have every student in school create their own art journal. On the first day of class everyone creates an art journal. When they are finished with a project they know to go get their art journals and start working.  There is a list of 28 topics to draw and write about. No one has to ask ..."what do I do now".  Everyone knows to go there their art journals.

I also have a Creation Station and library students can work in if they reach certain pages in their a
art journals. 

This is my Creation Station and Library. When students get to certain points in their journal they can go to the Creation Station and work independently. Before you ask I have know idea why the rooster is on the table. I am hoping it is because some one was using it to draw in their sketch book. I have a very large and strange collection of things for the kids to draw in their sketchbooks with. 

Just a small selection for the randomness that is my art room.

On top part of the Creation Station in the green baskets is the journal station. The journal station is a collection of random stamps, scrapbooking supplies and other odds an ends I have bought on clearance from Hobby Lobby or the thrift store or some that some wonderful parent has donated. Anything in the Journal Station may be used in their art journals.

For 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th I order 18 x 12 inch white tagboard paper for the covers and 17 x 11 inch white computer paper for the insides. I use a 7 page single signature. I have a list of 28 pages students need to complete throughout the year. The journals are due 2 weeks before their last day of classes. 

3rd grade uses cereal box covers. I may go to 1st, 2nd and 3rd using cereal boxes next year to save a little money. The 4th and 5th grade love creating their own journal covers so I will keep them with the tag board.

These are some of the activities students can use in the Creation Station.

Magnetic boxes with colorful pieces...

Pictionary, art memory cards and museum close-up cards...

Atom builder...

Stacking balls...

Make a mobile...


Spin art..

Preselected art lessons from art text books...

Gear builder...

Writing station...

Graph heart project...

I have a student in charge of the Creation Station and Library in each class. It is that student's job to make sure the area is straight before the class leaves. 

I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions please leave a message or email me at

This post is a part of The Art Ed Blogger's Network: Monthly Tips and Inspiration from Art Teacher Blogs. On the first Tuesday each month, each of these art teacher blogs will post their best ideas on the same topic. Please see the following blogs for more inspiration on how to handle Early Finishers.

Participating Art Teacher Blogs:


  1. How do you assemble the art journals? Like how are they held together?

    1. Each child sews their own book. I thought I had a blog post on the step by steps...but I don’t. I will crest one for you on Monday. Please check back in with me.

  2. Looks like a lot of fun for the kids. Thanks for your efforts and kudos, sure you are catching them young. These materials are worthy and are good starts.

  3. Do you have a list of the 28 items that they need to finish for their journals? Love you Creation Station.