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Art Education

3 ways to support art education with ESSER funds

As an art teacher, you have a dual role of educating your students while advocating for the crucial funds to support your art program. This year, however, you might find yourself in a slightly different situation. Thanks to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, you now have much-needed, and much-welcomed, money to spend. But with the daunting amount of documentation swirling around this topic, do you find yourself wondering—what exactly can I use these funds for? Or, how can I support my art program with ESSER funds?

Allowable uses for ESSER funds 

To help you get started, below are three key allowable uses for ESSER funds identified by the U.S. Department of Education, followed by suggested ways to use this federal funding to effectively support your art program in the year ahead.

1 – Keeping students safe in the classroom

Funds can be used to purchase materials to set up your visual arts classroom or studio so you can keep physical distance between students. These could include supplies such as masking tape to mark off areas where students can sit, stand, or enter, as well as, outdoor tents to take your classroom outside. It could also include equipment, such as a media cart, to make your visual arts classroom mobile so you can push it into classrooms or support after-school programs.

How to use these ESSER funds to support your art program: Art on a cart materials and supplies

Art on a cart materials are a great to support your art program with ESSER funds

Some educators need (and prefer) the ability to be fully mobile—especially if there isn’t a designated art room at school. In this case, if students can’t go to the art room, the art room must have the ability to go to them, more casually referred to as Art on a cart. 

Whether you need the ability to travel from classroom to classroom; or a way to make your classroom storage adaptable, the popular cart options below will help keep you on the move while supporting your art program with allowable ESSER funds.

2 – Addressing learning loss

Funds can also be used for addressing learning loss in Local Educational Agencies among students, including low-income students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care.

How to use these ESSER funds to support your art program: Individual student art kits and no-share supplies

Purchasing pre-assembled art kits with project guides are a great way to support your art program with ESSER funds.

One of the biggest challenges for all teachers at the beginning of the pandemic was finding safe and effective ways to equip students with necessary supplies for learning continuity—specifically in hands-on learning. To meet this need, individual student learning kits and no-share supply packs were developed with the help of valuable teacher input. 

As more students return to the classroom this school year, individual student art kits and no-share supplies continue to be vitally important. Along with preventing the spread of germs, individual student kits address the increased focus on student learning acceleration and equity. Pre-assembled kits with quality art materials and project guides eliminate the need to sort and store supplies for every student. And, when all students are provided with the same materials, everyone has an equal opportunity to create, learn, and succeed, which is what art education is really all about.

Here are two examples of popular individual student art kits:

3 – Supporting summer school, after-school, and extended-day programs

Funds can be used for planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental after-school programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.

How to use these ESSER funds to support your art program: Art curriculum and lesson plans

Your after-school, summer-learning, or supplemental art program plays a key role in developing the creative interests of your students. Art education leads to increased motor skills, language skills, decision-making skills, inventiveness, as well as better overall social-emotional development. 

Cross-curricular art-based activities and lesson plans are the perfect way to increase student engagement in academics while subsequently enhancing your key art program initiatives.

Focus on SEL, diversity, and academics throughout the year

Art Class Curator® curricula will support your art program with ESSER funds

Art Class Curator® has partnered with Nasco Education to provide K–12 curricula focused on works of art that explore cultural diversity from a historical perspective. This highly adaptable program pairs SEL and academics with easy-to-implement standards-aligned art lessons and activities.

Learn more by watching this interview with Art Teacher and Program Creator Cindy Ingram.

Create meaningful learning experiences with SEL lesson plans 

Download the free SEL-infused art lesson plans below and browse additional art lesson plans and activities here at any time.

To learn more about ESSER funds, visit the Department of Education Office of Elementary & Secondary Education.

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