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The Art Of The Back Up Project

The Art Of The Back Up Project

Teaching Artists = Improv Artists

An experienced Teaching Artist knows that improvising a simple back up project can make all the difference on how their day will go. A main project that is too easy for the age group or doesn't resonate with the dynamic of the group can leave a blank chunk of time in the schedule which can lead to classroom chaos. 

Back up art projects have the following features:

  • They should use some of the same supplies as the main project or supplies that are typically in inventory.
  • The supplies should be readily available meaning you can swing by the store super quick to get more if you're out. 
  • The supplies should come in bulk supply and be inexpensive.
  • They should be easy to pull out and clean up at the end of class.
  • The project should be able to be completed at a few different skill/age levels. 
  • Bonus: if you can elaborate on it if there's more class time.
  • Bonus: if you can relate the back up project to the concept covered in the main project.

A mini thankful book back up project.

My favorite back up project supplies include:

  • popsicle sticks
  • yarn
  • straws
  • pipe cleaners
  • beads (gotta keep them under control with bowls and bins)
  • markers
  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • washi tape


There's an insane number of projects you can create from the supplies listed above:

  1. Finger knitting
  2. Collaborative drawing mural
  3. Drawing games
  4. Basic bookbinding---next level: write in the book
  5. Comics---next level: get story sequencing and character development in there
  6. Pinwheels
  7. Puppets---next level: act them out
  8. Pretend crown, jewelry, or glasses---next level: make a play
  9. Popsicle stick weaving
  10. Straw and Pipe cleaner people---next level: act out or writing about the character

The teaching artists I've worked with are amazing!!!! They're so inspiring and impressive!

Let's Read Art: Lichtenstein

Let's Read Art: Lichtenstein

Let's Read Art: Monika Paulaviciute

Let's Read Art: Monika Paulaviciute