Things I Wish I Knew About Teaching Art to 3 Year Olds


This year is my first year teaching the 3 year old Art Class. I’m not going to sugarcoat it… things were rough in the beginning. I made a LOT of mistakes.

But, I’m glad I did, because now I feel like I’ve learned a couple things that I wish I could have known in the beginning. So, I’m going to pass them along:

3 Year Olds Cannot Write Their Names!

DUH, right?

But, for some reason, I thought they would be able to if I went around and helped each one. What a silly idea!

While I went to one child, the one next to them would yell to me to get my attention. I’d be lucky if any of the others weren’t chasing each other around the room! I’m sure you can imagine the scene… yes, it was like herding cats!

Anyway, if I could go back and tell myself some advice before that first class: it would be this:

Though it takes extra prep time, WRITE EACH STUDENT’S NAME ON BACK OF PAPERS *BEFORE* EACH CLASS! (and don’t worry, self, you will still learn their names…. eventually!)

3 Year Olds Don’t Sit On The Rug (At First)!

Ok, how crazy is this… I seriously thought they would come in, sit on the carpet, and wait for me to take attendance….

Um, NO! Talk about delusional. Whatever was I thinking?

Dear First Day PreK Art Teacher Self: You’d better have a song ready, a stuffed animal to look at, a puppet to talk to them, WHATEVER, but not just you! You are not interesting enough to them yet!!! To them, you are only a very tall giant who speaks the language of adult, which they are completely used to tuning out for the sake of pursuing whatever might grab their attention just this second.

3 Year Olds Have To Keep Their Hands Busy!

If I don’t have something for them to touch, do, poke or mess with, I lose them.

The ironic thing is… they don’t really like to get their hands messy!

And if I could give myself a quick tip the first day I  introduce a new material it would be:


Let me tell a story right quick…

I love to shop at the Dollar Tree. I can literally go on a shopping spree, pick up like 50 things, and get them all for the amount I’d spend on a ONE item splurge at the makeup store or Teavana.

This particular day, I was browsing through the toy aisle. A bright package caught my eye. It was this amazing foam clay that came in neon colors. Tactile, doesn’t stick to surfaces, perfect way to help my little ones perfect their motor skills- or so I thought.

Oh heck to the no.

I used the clay with the 3 year olds as an early finisher task. The teacher aide and I were picking pieces of foam out from their clothes, their hair, their eye lashes, EVERYWHERE! Pure hellooooooo. I apologized incessantly to their teacher when she picked them up, but if I were her, I may still be holding a grudge! 🙂

So, I may still have a little more left to learn….

But, I know that the more mistakes I make, the better I am at my job. I can now better narrow down my grandiose dreams of pie-in-the-sky lesson plans seen in the utopia of Pinterest. Now, I’m better able to know my students and their abilities, as well as appreciate their progress.

Oh yeah… and the best part about making thousands of mistakes:  Now I AM interesting enough to them. 🙂