Arranging Art Materials

The placement of each material should be carefully thought out. As Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia approach suggests, it is likened to the idea of a market stall where customers are looking for wares that interest them in order to select and engage.This idea ties the materials very closely with the aesthetic of the studio space, arranging the materials to draw the attention to the beauty of ordinary objects. Simple things like sorting the graphic materials by the colors of the spectrum in clear containers gives a sense of order and beauty.

Selecting containers and furniture for the studio should be well thought out and looked at as an opportunity to express a sense of design. Imagine you are selling these materials and want to display them in an enticing way. Look at thrift stores or your own home for reusable containers or furniture. You want this furniture to be functional and pleasing. You may even want to bring students' parents in to help custom build a furniture piece. It could become a math project in measuring for the students. As the students learn about new materials, the studio can grow, but keep it simple at first. The organization and cleanliness of the space is imperative to maintaining the aesthetics of the studio. This is a great opportunity to have students become responsible for the space through classroom jobs to keep up the studio. Make an inventory of the materials of which the student helpers can keep track.


Within a studio/workshop area, spaces may be designated for storage and materials. This space can include an area for portfolios and some three-dimensional constructions, musical equipment, or props. Today's technology gives us another storage space, the computer. Because space is limited, use a digital camera to photograph the bigger works and video record performances so they can be stored in a digital portfolio on the computer. When placing the materials in the studio, none should be viewed as a passive element. Clearly label each student's work and put it in a folder that is easily accessible to students, teachers and parents.

Arranging Art Materials
  • Visual Art Materials
    Drawing tools
    Markers of many kinds, including several varieties of fine-line black markers, pens including ballpoints and "sharpies," soft- and hard-lead pencils, crayons, various sizes of chalk oil pastels, color pencils, erasers, ink pads, stamps, and rulers.

    Painting materials
    Tempera paint (cakes or liquid), watercolor paints, brushes, water containers, plastic plates for reusable pallets, wax paper for throw-away pallets, sponges, and easel(s).

    Construction materials
    Natural and recycled materials organized in classifications, magazines, variety of wires, wire snips, sandpaper, brass fasteners, yarn and string, hole-punchers, scissors, variety of tapes, stapler, glues, paste, and for older students low-temp glue guns and X-acto knives.

    Sculpture materials
    Wet clay in airtight containers, clay and pottery tools, stamps,
  • Additional Visual Materials
    Smocks, paper towels, many types of paper in various sizes and weights for drawing and painting, kraft paper, various fabrics, brayers, foam board, printing ink, easy-cut blocks, and various types of linoleum block cutters.

    The aesthetic of the studio space is about finding beauty in everyday objects, paying attention to the sensory experience, and considering textures and colors. Find a space that has natural light, natural objects, plants, or flowers. Embrace this experience to explore beauty with your students through the studio as well as designing the whole classroom space.
  • Technology and research materials
    Research books, trade books, computer, printer, cameras, video cameras, web cameras and an ideas file. (See for websites and publications.)
  • Music Materials
    CD/MP3 music samples, CD/MP3 player, TV, DVD/DVR player, music folder (to store music scores and compositions), microphones, audio recorders, video cameras, instruments (handmade or professionally made instruments), paper, pencils, and journals.
  • Theater Materials
    Scripts and theatrical texts, costumes, makeup, sets, mirrors, masking tape for stage markings, TV, DVD/DVR player, CD/MP3 player, theater recordings, music samples, video camera, theater curtains (stage lights are optional if students are performing on a stage), paper, pencils, and journals.
  • Dance Materials
    TV, DVD/DVR player, CD/MP3 player, variety of music, video camera, mirrors, masking tape for floor markings, smooth floor surface, costumes/props, yoga mats, paper, pencils, and journals.
Getting Started