When I first started at my school, we qualified for Title 1 funding. I felt it was important to make my budget stretch as far as it could and reached out for donations. I asked for things people were discarding or recycling. Silk flowers, old markers, crayons, card stock, wrapping paper, craft items. I even had a couple of donations of paper from local printers. These donations have been the springboard for many art projects over the years.
I now teach almost a thousand students. We are no longer a Title 1 school and we have a larger budget for art. I still like to be conservative with my supplies. I still use recycled or donated items and do my best to be considerate of all the fundraising our parents do to keep art at our site.
The water cups we use are donated as are the plates they sit in. One of my favorite items to use is the lean cuisine trays. They are the perfect size for a water cup and a half a sponge. They also stack nicely. The sponges were purchased from the 99 cent store and cut in half. Students share this set up when painting.
For tempera paint, we use paper plates. I used to use recycled lean cuisine plates but California is often in a drought and it seems better to throw away a plate than use the copious amounts of water needed for washing. I use the same plates for several days or until they become really messy .
Students share one plate. I call it the “supply plate”. If they are mixing colors, they do it directly on their papers or in a plastic lid like those from a yogurt cup. I also use those plastic lids for glue for my pre-K to K friends.
It saves us from using too much glue and they get some much needed eye-hand coordination in the process. Most of them don’t mind and find it fun to peel off the dried glue.
This my set up is for liquid watercolors. We use them periodically. I like them for the bright colors. I put a few drops of liquid watercolor in the plastic souffle cup and add water. I store the lidded cups in a box I picked up from Costco. It fits perfectly in my cupboard and is fairly shallow. The nice thing about the cardboard box is that is absorbs watercolor that may be on the bottom of the cups and the best part is it was free.
For lessons with PreK, I often give each pair 2 cool colors then I swap them with their neighbor for 2 warm colors. Three of those little cups will fit in the tray so for older students. I use three warm colors and three cool colors. The little trays have saved us from big spills many times.
The black papers are our placemats. Years ago, our admin ordered paper that was much larger than a teacher needed and passed it off to me. I needed something to cover the tables and these were perfect.
My youngest students do not usually get water and sponge plates for tempera. I have them wipe their brush on the placemats between colors. This process works for many reasons-brighter colors, less time making “strawberry water” and “milk water” and more time actually painting, it eliminates water spills as well.
I use the same placemat papers for much of the year until they are overly covered in stuff or are bumpy or torn. When they get to that point, I chop it up for collage or paper making.