Cleaning up can be a pain, for both the teacher and the students. Still, cleaning up is just as important to understanding the material as using it during work time. I recently made the mistake of not having the 4-5 year old students in my “Art Around the World” class clean up after they had finished a collage project. I realized later that this had been a huge mistake. First, because I had to stay after class much longer than usual in order to sweep up all the small pieces of paper, and second because I realized that I had robbed them of the complete collage experience. Collage is not just something you can start whenever you please, cutting and gluing willy-nilly. If one embarks on a mission to collage one must anticipate the mess. Cleaning up is always something I have incorporated into my lessons, but simply out of necessity (I can’t possibly clean 21 brushes and pallets) and principal (it is an important part of maintaining discipline and respect for materials). Now I realize that it has yet another purpose: education, and information about the material.
^ The photograph above is an example of how wonderful having a sink in the classroom can be. Here, my 10-12 year old ceramic students clean up their own materials after a day of glazing.