Peculiar Elementary Art Studio

Jenny Bullock, Visual Art Teacher


"The essential goal of art teaching is....

to inspire children to behave like feel what it is to gather an art idea on one's own and act on it. The goal is to reveal to children that art comes from within themselves-- not from the teacher.” George Szekely- ENCOURAGING CREATIVITY IN ART LESSONS

What's New?

Beginning the 2013 school year the Peculiar art room has undergone many changes to accommodate the 21st century learner. The visual arts program at Peculiar Elementary School is now based on the principles and practices of nationally recognized and research-based “Teaching for Artistic Behavior” (also known as TAB, or choice-based) method of teaching. The idea is simple: students are artists, and the classroom is their studio. Children are offered real choices for responding to their own ideas and interests through the making of art. This concept supports multiple modes of learning to meet the diverse needs of all students.

The classroom is organized into smaller “studios” where students find materials, tools and resources. Students are taught how to set up their work space, generate and explore their own ideas based on their experiences, interests and passions. Students work at their own pace independently or with peers. New concepts, content, media and techniques are delivered in short demonstrations or discussions at the start of each class. Art history and contemporary topics in the arts are woven into work sessions as appropriate and relevant to the ongoing work of the students. Small groups or individuals can work directly with the instructor when mastering new techniques or solving difficult problems.

Students who are offered the chance to explore their own ideas find greater meaning and relevance in their work.

The Art Studio Recycles!

Please help by sending in any CLEAN, recycled items or items that you think we could use for our art making, such as:

Cardboard Tubes



Small boxes (jewelry, soap, checks, mac and cheese, butter)

Bottle lids/caps

Old CDs

Baby wipes


Aluminum foil

Facial tissues (for blending pastels and runny noses)

Pliers-for wire sculptures

Old jewelry (broken is fine)


Silk flowers

Ziploc baggies


A key element in the choice-based art room is the availability of many centers or “studios.” The studios are small learning areas where students go to create. Materials and instructions are carefully arranged so that students have access to an extremely wide variety of media.

Some studios include:

  • Mask Making
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Clay
  • Collage
  • Fiber Arts
  • Digital Art
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture
  • Photography
  • Puppets

Benefits of Choice

Students are taught that artists make art about things that fascinate them. When doing the work of the artist, students will be expressing their own ideas.

The teacher introduces a new concept every week, even though some art works will take much longer to complete as the students work independently.

Students see an enormous variety of ideas and techniques at the end of the class when amazing discoveries are shared.

When students have chosen their work, they can discuss it easily, can describe their working process and evaluate the effectiveness of the finished work.

Time is used very efficiently; the initial demonstration and the brief clean up time leaves more time for students to work. Additional detailed instruction is given to small groups or individuals as they work.

Referenced from: Welcome to the Choice Studio! Where Kids Choose How To Express Their Art Ideas, page 50, Arts & Activities, September, 2004

By Katherine M. Douglas

Artwork Coming Home

You will notice that the artwork your children bring home might look different than in previous years. You will no longer see hallways filled with slight variations of the same project. Since choice-based art education puts the student in charge of choosing media and subject matter, there will be an extremely wide variety of projects coming out of the same classroom. It is important to note that children’s inspiration should come from their personal experiences and perspectives of the world around them. To most children the process of creating something is in itself the work of art. A child’s world is quite different from our own... their art should truly be “childlike.”

Much of your child’s artwork will come home as it is completed, with the exception of art saved for our art fair in the spring. This will afford you the opportunity to have discussions with your children about their art work while the experience of making it and the ideas behind it are still fresh in their heads.

Rather than simply praising

your child’s artwork…

Start a conversation about it!

Ask one of these great questions:

-Why did you make it?

-How did you make it?

-Where did you get the idea?

-What kind of materials did you use?

-Which part are you the proudest of?

-What would you like to try next?

Referenced from: Welcome to the Choice Studio! Where Kids Choose How To Express Their Art Ideas, page 50, Arts & Activities, September, 2004

By Katherine M. Douglas

As in previous years, students’ art will continue to be able to be viewed online at For those new to our school, I will be sending home information on how to participate in this online art museum. My hope for the future is that students will be photographing and uploading their own art to teach them responsibility and ownership of a digital portfolio. Don’t forget that online purchases from give back 20% to help fund our supplies!

Assessments and Standards

Peculiar’s choice-based art program follows a set of power standards developed by Ray-Pec art teachers and based upon the Missouri Show Me Standards. Under each of these two standards are different learning targets for each grade that will be assessed over the course of the school year.

Power Standard 1:The student will be able to develop works of art through the application of art materials, techniques, and processes .

Power Standard 2:The student will be able to explore visual arts to communicate a variety of creative ideas, feelings, and experiences.

Because the choice-based art classroom is structured toward individualized learning, the teacher has the opportunity to more authentically assess students’ growth and learning in their daily activities. This is done through observations, checklists, and teacher-student conferences. Students are also given frequent opportunities to self-assess their progress using various tools, including rubrics, journals, artist statements, and presentations.

For more information about specific grade level learning targets that will be assessed, please visit our website or see Ms. Bullock.

Teaching for Artistic Behavior

The Teaching for Artistic Behavior Partnership was formed in 2000 with the support of the Massachusetts College of Art, the NAEA and the Education Alliance at Brown University. It includes choice-based art programs from around the United States. The concept emerged over 30 years ago in Massachusetts classrooms through the need for more authentic art making experiences. T.A.B. is committed to supporting and encouraging teachers who would like to provide authentic art making opportunities for students and who believe in the child as artist.