Tips for Second Semester Art Classes

You made it halfway through the year, congrats! It always amazes me how quickly the spring semester flies by. With all your New Years motivation under your belt start your second semester art classes with organization and project prep now before time gets away from you. Check out how I manage new classes, returning classes, and planning ahead in my second semester art classes below.


Whether you vibed with your first semester students or are already wishing semester two away, you may have classes that stick with you all year. I typically had a mix of semester long art classes and year long art classes. I enjoyed the mix of knowing what was coming in my year long art classes and the excitement of meeting a new batch of students in my semester long art classes. Although your returning classes should be aware of your class rules, expectations, and class routines, it’s still important to ease them back into the school year. Start off with short projects or quick art activities that will only take a couple of days up to a week. Check out some ideas below:


I love a one-day art lesson the first week back from break in elementary art classes. This gets students back into the mode of art-making before jumping into longer projects. Check out some highlights below.

  • Start with a single material value study on winter landscapes. Check it out on my TPT here or in my grab-and-go pack here. This is a perfect review of value and practice before jumping into a winter snow scene mixed media work of art. Check this lesson out on my website here or on my TPT here.
  • Start with a fun op art project with a one-day op art squiggles activities. All you need are black markers and crayons. Check it out on my TPT here.
  • Have students design crazy bugs their first day back for a quick activity on line, shape, and pattern. Check out out on my TPT here.


If your middle school art class meets daily pick an activity that will only last one to three days. Take this time to review concepts taught in first semester before you begin building on them second semester. I am a big fan of scaffolding in art lessons, make sure your lessons are building on the base knowledge you already taught. Check out some of my favorites below:

  • If you haven’t taught artist trading cards to students yet, this is a great low-stakes mixed media art project to start with. Check it out on my TPT here and on my website here.
  • Let students play with lines and patterns by focusing on zendoodle designs for the first few days. Start with practice sheets before creating a full-page zentangle design. Check it out on my TPT here and on my website here.
  • Teach students the basics of collage and mixed media in this quick one to two-day activity using packaging tape to create image transfers. Check it out on my TPT here and on my website here.


Similar to middle school, keep the first week light. Focus on one-day to one-week activities. Don’t start the semester with a big project. Focus on sketchbook assignments and technique reviews before starting the first big project. Check out some suggestions below:

  • Focus on sketchbook activities and reviewing or teaching color theory to start the semester. Check out my color-mixing sketchbook activity on my TPT here.
  • Review drawing basics by completing a series of contour line drawings over the course of two to three days. These are simple, yet beautiful to display. Check them out on my TPT here.
  • Review shading techniques with my shading activity pack on my TPT here or on my website here.


It’s so refreshing to start second semester art classes with brand new students. Although you are halfway through the year, rewind and focus on first day of school items. My first day of class runs the same in every class:

  • Either assign seats or mark student’s seats on a seating chart as they choose their spot.
  • Review class rules, routines, and expectations.
  • Pass out the course syllabus, and review it as a class.
  • Pass out a get-to-know-you sheet, have students fill them out as you walk around the class to fill out your seating chart or introduce yourself one-on-one to students.
  • Have students get started on collecting materials to decorate their sketchbooks.
  • Collect the get to know you sheet for their first participation grade.

Most of these items are covered in-depth in my first day of school tips blog post. I highly recommend making sketchbooks the first week of school to help students familiarize themselves with supply locations, give you insight into their natural art ability, and keep the stakes low the first week of class. Check out my sketchbook bundle on my TPT here and read more in-depth in a blog post here.

I also highly recommend encouraging regular sketching in your second semester art classes. If you missed including this in your first semester classes, it’s never too late to start! Check out my pack of daily, 5-minute sketchbook prompts on my TPT here and on my website here.


I can’t say it enough, PLAN AHEAD! There is no greater gift to your future self than sitting down and sketching out your semester. Plan pacing and projects in every class, purchase materials ahead of time, and give yourself a breather during planning periods. Remember, scaffold your lessons! If you focused on contour lines, value, and drawing from life first semester it might be time to introduce color theory second semester. If you focused on drawing and painting first semester, introduce mixed media second semester. Think about what techniques students are lacking and how you can build them into your lessons.

Get a planner, digital or physical, take control of your semester, and plan everything out. I promise you will feel better once you have an idea of what your second semester art classes will look like.

I hope these tips and tricks help give you ideas and motivation to jump back into second semester with the same enthusiasm we have during back to school. It’s tough going back in the cold, dark mornings, but you will arrive at spring break before you know it! Best wishes, you can do it!!

Thanks for stopping by! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and TikTok for weekly visual journal demos and other project ideas. Subscribe here to get freebies, project tutorials, and more straight to your inbox. Until next time!

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