Tips for Teachers

Some Do’s And Don'ts When You Teach An ArtAchieve Art Lesson for Kids

  • Do not single out a student for praise.  If you praise artwork, you make students depend on praise in order to feel successful.

  • Do ask students what they think of their own work.  Help students draw for themselves, rather than for the teacher’s approval.  Use the “Time for Reflection” as an opportunity for students to learn to work together to evaluate their own work.


  • Do not draw on students’ paper.  When you draw on a student’s work, you make that drawing your own.

  • Do draw on your own scratch paper if you want to demonstrate how to do a certain technique.


  • Do not allow students to start over if they do not like their drawing or if they “made a mistake.”

  • Do tell students it will take several more lines before they know if the drawing is going to turn out to their satisfaction.  Ask them what they do not like about their drawing and help them suggest ways of changing these “problems.”  Remember, drawings with “mistakes” can lead us to solutions that make the drawing one of our best.  (See also the questions and answers about mistakes below)


  • Do not try to make students draw “correctly.”

  • Do remind students that there is no wrong way to draw.  Each person’s drawing will be different because we are all different people.  Help students to think of “mistakes” as chance to make the drawing better than they had originally planned.


  • Do not allow talking during a lesson.  Instead, play quieting music to help students focus on their work. 

  • Do limit your own talk, thereby creating a quiet supporting environment.  Drawing and talking do not mix, just like riding a bike and jumping hurdles do not mix.  The bike rider would get bruised, and likewise, the drawing will get “bruised.”


Evaluating an Art Lesson

How should I evaluate student’s artwork or make comments about students’ work?

  • Do tell them what you see in order to affirm their work. For example, say, “You are using a lot of grey,” or “You use jagged lines to decorate the fish,” or “Your picture is turning out very bright (or very dark),” or “You put your cat on a pillow.”

  • Do not make negative comments about their work.  For example, do not say, “You used too much orange,” or “Your insect doesn’t look right.”

  • Do ask questions about their work. For example, ask, “Can you tell me about your picture?” or “Do you want to add anything to the picture?”

  • Do not ask questions that sound negative.  For example, do not ask, “What is that?”


Dealing With “Mistakes” During an Art Lesson

Q: What if a student makes a mistake?

  • Usually we can say that there are no real mistakes.  Treat “mistakes” as opportunities for new ideas, or as happy accidents that we can ignore for the time being and incorporate into our drawing later. 

  • If a student begins a drawing with a line that goes in the wrong direction, it is easy to become frustrated and want to start over.  It will seem at first that the “mistake” is going to ruin a drawing. However, the finished product may still be successful. Therefore, it is important to complete the drawing before deciding if you like it or not. If you still do not like the drawing by the time it is finished, that’s ok—consider it practice and draw another one!

  • That said, however, however, there are those very rare times when a drawing starts out in such a wrong direction that it will continue to frustrate the student.  If that is the case, suggest that they turn the paper over and begin afresh.


Q: What can I do to prevent students from breaking down and crying over their work?

  • As you begin the lesson, explain that everyone’s work will look different from the work on the screen and from each other. 

  • Some students are very concerned that their work “looks right,” but there is no right or wrong way to draw. To help these students, spend time with the “Rules for Drawing” pages that are found at the beginning of each lesson.

  • Take a tour of the classroom when the guided drawing is finished to celebrate the many ways people have drawn the subject.  Remind them that art is as much about how things could be as it about how thing are.


Q: What happens if a student DOES break down and cry?

  • Remind student that it’s normal to not like everything you draw and it’s normal to feel frustrated sometimes. If the student is upset, tell them to take a break and walk around the room before trying to fix their drawing.