Hi. My name is Melissa Bagnall. I am a trained primary school teacher but currently playing stay-at-home mum to an almost-three-year-old.

If you are anything like me, teaching visual arts properly in your classroom can seem like a daunting task. I am not a trained artist (although I do enjoy being creative now and then), and I did do a subject at uni that attempted to teach me the skills I would soon need to pass onto my students but for some reason when I entered my primary teaching profession I felt very out of my depth when it came to teaching visual arts. I ended up not enjoy teaching the subject either because it usually ended up in a lot of extra work for me after hours due to the clean-up involved. Essentially as much as I could, I avoided the subject. I taught it because I knew my students loved it and the school required it but I didn’t love it.

10 years in and boy, my opinions have changed regarding this subject. I am now the biggest advocate for teaching the visual arts in the classroom to the point where every subject I teach, I am looking for a way to allow my students to explore a new technique or even just have some free expression time to practise skills I have taught them throughout the year.

Now, as I said, I am in no way a trained artist and nor did I study art beyond year 10 at high school so I don’t claim to be an expert in this field by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know that I have gained such a greater understanding of visual arts as a subject and teaching area that I really want to share this understanding with others who may be feeling out of their depth or are just looking for inspiration so that they can make the teaching of visual arts easier for themselves.

I truly believe that teaching visual arts alongside other teaching areas in the Australian curriculum not only helps you as a teacher cover more curriculum at once, but it helps our students make connections and increases engagement as well. A lot of the art ideas I will share with you will be linked to the Australian curriculum but also linked to other curriculum areas.

I hope you enjoy following me on this journey.

So, let’s start with the basics:

What art supplies do I need in my classroom?

There are some basic materials you will need in your classroom at the beginning of every year. This will make art seem less daunting but also easier to access. If you have the right supplies on hand, you are more likely to incorporate art into your curriculum more often.

Here is my must have art supplies checklist (I have included this in a free printable download in my free resource library as well):

  • Acrylic or washable paints (at least make sure you have red, blue, yellow, white and black – your can get away without all the other colours because you can make them all with these colours)
  • Edicol dyes (vegetable dyes)
  • Cartridge paper – A3&A4 size (this is a must if you are using the edicol dyes or water colour paints. Normal paper is just not strong enough to cope with the amount of water the children will use.)
  • Paintbrushes (various sizes – at least a thick, medium and thin brush for different techniques)
  • Oil pastels
  • Craft glue
  • Tissue paper (you want to make sure you get the tissue paper that bleeds)
  • Crepe paper
  • Spray bottles
  • Eye droppers/pipettes
  • Something to cover your surface (I recommend using small sheets of ply – they are a solid surface and it doesn’t matter if paint gets on them as they just soak up the mess. Alternatively you could use disposable plastic tablecloths from the dollar store but these eventually rip over time and, particularly with watercolour paints, I find them to be a lot messier clean up wise because the water pools on the top of the tablecloth)
  • Icecream buckets (for dirty paintbrushes)
  • Cottonballs/pompoms
  • Sponges
  • Pegs
  • Art drying rack (There are many options on the market but I like this one)
  • Black A4 paper
  • Cellophane
  • Art smocks (if students don’t provide their own)
  • Egg cartons
  • Toothbrushes
  • Plastic bowls
  • Plastic plates
  • Textas (If your students don’t have any of their own)
  • Teacher apron
  • Lead pencils

Optional items:

  • Self-drying clay
  • Foil board
  • Textured paper
  • Chalk
  • Glitter
  • Marbles
  • Pool noodles
  • Toilet rolls

I hope this checklist is helpful to you. If you would like a printable version of this checklist, please head to my free resource library to pick up your free copy!

Happy teaching!!