The need for family engagement has touched every school district in the country. More and more, districts are developing numerous ways to engage families in the education process. The main goal is to build strong family relationships and make a significant impact on children’s development and educational success. So often, all a parent hears from their child is a few monosyllabic words indicating everything is fine. Districts want parents to hear and see more than just “fine.” Art offers a unique way to foster family engagement. Here are a few ideas to draw parents into the art classroom.
1. Family Portrait Gallery
Showcasing student artwork during parent-teacher events is very common, but go a step further by creating a family portrait gallery. Arm students with Ucreate Watercolor Paper, crayons, colored pencils, or paint and have them create portraits of their family members. You could also ask family members to do portraits of each other. This is a great activity to get families talking about their heritage and why Aunt Mabel has such big ears or why Uncle John has red hair.
Consider creating a sheet of family-related questions to send home with the portrait kits to start the conversation flowing. What traits do we all have as a family? What is a unique trait only one family member has? Portraits are a fun activity that can be done in one setting or more. Once completed and returned, they can be put together in a family portrait gallery. Using frame paper will make it easier because mats or frames are not necessary. This gallery can be put up to enhance an already planned event, or you could create a family gallery night to unveil the portraits.
2. Family Art Night
Set aside one night a semester for family engagement in your classroom to create art. It could be a project focused on painting, ceramics, or other mediums. Hands-on art is a great way to get families working together. This type of event gives parents a firsthand experience in the creation process, allowing them to discover what can be learned in the art room. It also helps families understand what you are trying to accomplish in your classroom. Many families do not understand what goes into planning a daily curriculum. While they are creating, you have an opportunity to share with them your curriculum and what your plans are for the rest of the year. What a great way to get support for art in your district!
3. The Art of Mask Making
Masks have historically been created to cover one’s personal identity. In current times, masks serve a new purpose. Take this opportunity to show off one’s family identity by creating face masks unique to each family. Using facemasks and fabric markers such as Crayola’s Fabric Markers (they do not have an odor) and/or crayons, have students create family-focused masks for the family to wear to the next school event. Always be careful with the products used on the masks, making sure they are safe and non-toxic. Poms and sequins can also be sewn onto the mask for added bling!
4. Silent Art Auction
Educators can all agree that we would like more money to spend on art materials for the classroom, so why not put together a silent art auction for the next school-family event. Students can create art for the sale, and parents can man the tables while encouraging friends and colleagues to bid on the artwork. Have students and parents search for old frames to showcase the art. Visit a thrift shop or ask friends and relatives if they have any. Students can enliven old frames with paint, glitter, glue, and decoupage. The Creativity Street Colossal Barrel of Crafts has all these products in one package. Ask students and parents what supplies they would like you to purchase with the funds raised.
These are just a few thought-starters for ways you can engage families through art while opening their minds to all the possibilities it has to offer.
More Family Engagement Art Lesson Plans & Ideas
Be sure to check out these other art lesson plans and view our Art Lesson Plan collection for even more!
Chuck Close-Inspired Self Portrait
Frame: Mixed Media
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Nadine Dresbach received her Masters and Undergraduate Degrees in Art Education from Kent State University. She began her teaching career at Canton City Schools and Kent State University in Ohio. In 1995 she was hired by Sax Arts and Crafts as an Art Consultant and Category Sales Manager representing School Specialty at conferences and professional development sessions. Nadine also creates artwork and lesson plans for the company. Her other teaching experiences include instruction and Internship Supervisor for Winthrop University in Rock Hill South Carolina as well as work for the Rock Hill and Union County School Districts and St. Anne Catholic School.
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Mary Reilly received her BA with an emphasis in textile design from Mount Mary University in Wisconsin. She studied at the Wetterhoff Institute of Craft and Design in Hämeenlinna, Finland, as well as took numerous post-graduate courses in fine arts. Mary has over 15 years of experience with Sax Arts & Crafts, developing and shaping a national team of Art Consultants who have conducted art education and professional development workshops to elementary, middle, and high school art educators across the United States and Canada.
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