Over the past 3 weeks, I have opened my choice based art room at Park Lane Elementary in Aurora, Colorado. I began with the Drawing Station -- I put all the various drawing mediums out on the tables and let students experiment with them. Some of my kids were surprised at how much they liked working with new mediums - ie. soft pastels. I have to remember to buy fixative for them to use when their works are completed.
Next, I opened the Collage Station and that was a big hit! I had trays of "Beautiful Stuff" on 5 on my tables and construction paper and magazines on 2 others. The kids were told to only pick 3 things from the Beautiful Stuff trays but they could use as much construction paper and magazine pictures as they wanted to round out their creations.
Finally this past week, I opened the Paint Station with watercolor sets and block tempera cakes. I spent time with the opening of each center, showing kids how to clean up and put supplies back in order, warning them that if a center was ever left in chaos, then that center would be closed the next week. That seemed to motivate them to clean up well when the art period was over! Even though paint is always a favorite thing for elementary, I had some students at the Drawing Station and the Collage Station in most of my classes - kids who weren't interested in painting. They are really responding to being able to pick a center of their choice to work in.
I must say I was amazed at the lack of discipline problems -- all the classrooms just hummed along with students engaged in art making. Next week, I am going to put off opening another center and will instead concentrate on how their art work will be graded and how each student needs to prepare for the 1st quarter Art Show.