The beginning of the school year can be a chaotic one in an elementary school. Often schedules are not completely set. Often as late registrations happen classes fluctuate for the first week or so. In my school district after the 6th day of classes, things were set for good. Splits were made and teachers moved to schools were numbers were higher. The first couple of weeks can be a challenge for art teachers because the classes are not set. You don't want to get started with something and then have a different group of students the next class. Because of this I have done different projects at the start of the school year that involved all students or students grouped by grade. Collaborative projects are a good way of starting the school year because it gives everyone time to get to know each other and gives you time to begin to build a relationship with students.
There are many different collaborative projects that can be done. One of my favorites is a version of Circle Painting. It is a great way of reviewing line quality with the older students and introducing it to the younger ones.
After a brief introduction, the students go to it. Students paint for a large portion of the class moving from one table to another and then we pause to go over a few classroom rules or procedures as things are cleaned up for the next class. The finished paintings look great hanging up in the hallways for open houses and until other lessons provide projects to hang.
Theresa Gillespie spent over 20 years teaching Art in the Moline School District in Illinois. She has a BA degree in Art Education and a MEd degree in Education & Technology. She also is a graduate level instructor for The Art of Education