Elem - how to clean paint palettes?

Discussion in 'Art Teachers' started by artsncrafts, May 7, 2012.

  1. artsncrafts

    artsncrafts Rookie

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    May 7, 2012

    Elementary teachers -

    I'm a long term sub for an elementary art teacher currently (but am certified in art ed). I recently began using tempera paint with my 4th graders and clean-up typically goes okay, but sometimes is a nightmare (I guess that's everyday though, right?). Usually I just have my students leave their dirty plastic palettes in the sink and I wash them during planning or after school. I just load up a big paint brush with soap and scrub them. It doesn't take too long but my back hurts standing over the short sinks. Is there any better way to do this?

    Typically I'm a big believer in having students do any job they are capable of doing in order to lessen my work load, however, I find if I let students wash it they either a) take forever b) make a bigger mess or c) don't get them clean enough and paint dries on. Do you let your students wash their palettes or do you do it for them?
     
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  3. teachart

    teachart Comrade

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    May 12, 2012

    What kind of palettes are you using? I would try something you can seal so you can save the paint, and that is recyclable (egg cartons, ect) that you can toss when the paint is used up.

    Have the 4th graders had sufficient time with tempera paint (did the previous teacher instruct them on how to use it?) It sounds like you might want to backtrack and go over procedures and demonstrate how to use the materials and clean up. If you reinforce how to mix paint on the paper, the paint on the palettes will be reuseable. Then you might plan some abstract projects to use the remaining paint.
     
  4. nasimi77

    nasimi77 Groupie

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    May 12, 2012

    Using correct brushes is important too. Some of the firmer bristle brushes work well, and I instruct kids on how to clean their brushes while painting. (scrape brush at bottom of cup filled with water). This releases most of the pigment, so that you, are the students, are not spending hours of back breaking time getting paint of out brushes. Procedure and clean up is the most challenging part of teaching art to a high volume of kids...well....as I have learned this year! Hoping to stream line clean up procedures myself for next year!
     
  5. nasimi77

    nasimi77 Groupie

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    May 12, 2012

    Sorry- I just realized you said cleaning paint pallettes, not brushes. My bad. I agree with teachart and what was said. I use containers that have lids, and a lot of times even paper plates. If you do have plastic, reusable palletts, then students can rinse right after use in sink...otherwise again, it takes time to scrape off paint that begins to dry.
     
  6. artsncrafts

    artsncrafts Rookie

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    May 16, 2012

    RE:

    Thanks for the suggestions - you're right, keeping them wet until I can clean them is the key. I ended up getting an awesome scrub brush at the grocery store that is very ergonomically shaped that helps me get the palettes clean very quickly. I also am just now using recycled lids (such as large yogurt, butter containers) instead of conventional paint palettes so that it is just one large surface sans nooks and crannies that paint can drift into and linger. It's working well, and since I do it every day I'm getting good at it so my speed is up! Haha.
     
  7. nasimi77

    nasimi77 Groupie

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    May 16, 2012

    Good for you, artsncrafts. Yes, I use those containers as well, (butter, yogurt, etc). They work great. :cool:



     
  8. Securis

    Securis Cohort

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    May 16, 2012

    What I've done in the past has been to keep a large tub of water and at the end of the day everything goes in there. Enough water to cover everything and I add soap. Then I let students do a first wash to remove as much of the paint as possible from them. After a first rinse, I send some students to the sink to do a scrub with a soapy sponge. I contain a lot of the mess with the large tub of water and usually only have to deal with some splashed out dirty water with a mop. The sink stays cleaner that way.
     
  9. artsncrafts

    artsncrafts Rookie

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    May 16, 2012

    Securis

    That's a really great idea - I love that you have found a way to make students accountable while containing most of the mess as well. Great advice. And so many of them always volunteer to help - it's funny how much work we can get them to do for free!!
     
  10. artsncrafts

    artsncrafts Rookie

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    May 22, 2012

    A student cleaning!!

    Just thought I'd share that today, even though I have been diligently washing all the palettes myself after class, one fourth grader stayed and washed every single one without me even asking him to. These are the moments that convince me I'm in the right profession, to catch a glimpse of true goodness in other humans :love:
     
  11. Securis

    Securis Cohort

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    May 22, 2012

    Awesome! Makes one feel good.
     

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