Thursday, January 10, 2013

Let's Talk About Brushes...

As my students were finishing painting today, I realized that I have a pretty great idea (if I do say so myself) that I need to share with you. More on that in a bit.

Here is my cabinet full of paint brushes. I remember doing some field work in a public school in Columbus, Ohio and I saw a bunch of brushes sitting dirty by the sink. I was mortified. As I proceeded to clean them, the teacher said to me, "Just wait until you have your own classroom. You'll see." At the time, I couldn't imagine leaving brushes unwashed, but I will admit that a brush or two (or a ton)  have sat on my counter a time or two.

So, what is the secret to having kids clean their own brushes? I have had this sign posted on the brush cabinet for as long as I have been teaching (18 years!) and it barely gets looked at. 

I do SAY these words, or a variation,  to the kids all the time and that seems to help.

I have taught the kids to put a little soap in the palm of their hand and "paint" their hand until all the paint is gone and the water runs dry. You can see the gal on the left doing just that.

And this brings me to the "Big Idea" that I have been bragging about. Once their brush is clean, they have to come to me and paint my arm with it. Yep, this is not for the faint of heart, but IT WORKS. If you look in the above photo, you might be able to see the boy on the far left painting his own arm. They are told to test it on themselves before coming to me.

Yes, that is my arm- and this little person was sent back to rewash that brush!

I make a big deal about this, telling them how DISAPPOINTED I will be if their brush is not clean. "I BETTER not get dirty!!"
They love it.
And I love it because the brushes get clean... and rarely sit on the counter dirty.

Here is a FANTASTIC resource- Fugleflicks
Tricia Fuglestad is an art teacher from the Chicago area who has her students create wonderful videos that may be used in the art classroom. 
Here is her video entitled Young Sloppy Brush. Show it to your kidlets. They will love it!

Do you have any great ways to keep brushes clean and organized? Please share!