Brianne Gidcumb | July 2016

Creating Classroom Arts Centers: Visual Art

In any arts integrated classroom, implementing arts integration strategies, aligning content standards organically with standards in the fine arts, and crafting quality arts integrated lessons is key. However, there is room to allow for open-ended, creative expression of content through the arts. With that in mind, we’d like to offer some parameters for creating centers for exploration and investigation in and through each of the arts areas. Understandably, much of what is feasible for any given classroom is dependent on many factors: space, budget, access to supplies and materials, etc., but we offer this today in the hopes that it will spark some investigation into how you might create a space for student-driven exploration in arts centers visual art.

Through this series, we are highlighting each arts area to provide some ideas as to how you might set up each center in your classroom, as well as some ideas for how you might use these centers to provide your students with opportunities for open-ended exploration. This week, we focus on arts centers visual art in the classroom.

The Intention Of Arts Centers Visual Art

An arts centers visual art can be fairly open-ended, depending on what kind of access you have to materials. A visual classroom art area can serve as a place where students can independently express their understanding of a concept through any form of visual art that is accessible to them. For that reason, the intention can remain consistent regardless of the types of materials and forms of visual art that can be accessed by the student. This classroom art area can be a place where students doodle, create works of visual art, study works of visual art to unpack themes, plots, characters, and data, and/or create exhibits to demonstrate an understanding of units of study.

The Setup

Again, the way this classroom art area is set up is dependent completely on the types of materials you have access to. You can include paints, pastels, pencils, chalk, markers, clay, and other materials for the creation of works of art. You can also include collections of artworks which students can study and unpack. Depending on what your students are studying, you can include works that are related to a theme or unit of study. You can also allow students to curate artifacts to create exhibits in this space, so your classroom art area could just be an open space for exhibits (see Creating Classroom Exhibits).


Students can engage in “reading” art in this center (see the See, Think, Wonder strategy). Students can also use works of art as a writing prompt, or as a prompt for their own visual artwork (see the I Spy strategy). Students can create artistic visualizations of data in science or math (see Creating Artistic Visualizations of Data). Students can create works of art in the classroom to depict a scene, embody a character, or convey a theme from a literary work. Students can curate artifacts related to a unit of study in social studies or science or related to a literary work and use this space as a classroom exhibit. The possibilities are endless!


About the Author

Brianne is a former music educator from Chicago and current graduate class instructor with EdCloset’s Learning Studios. She earned her Masters degree in Music Education from VanderCook College of Music and has over a decade of experience in the elementary general music classroom. With her experience in the performing arts, Brianne is dedicated to building connections between the arts and Common Core Standards, 21st century learning skills, inquiry and project-based learning. In addition to her work with EducationCloset, Brianne is a yoga instructor in the Chicagoland area. You can also find Brianne here: