Rewarding Student Participation in a School Art Show

Some Art Show Entries

Some Art Show Entries

I feel that rewarding student participation in a school art show is extremely important in encouraging creativity. When I organized my school art show I tried to reward as many student artists as possible in several different ways.

One way was by placing the art work into numerous categories so that many awards were given out.  Each category received 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons plus as many honorable mentions as the judge felt were deserved.  Because I taught in a school of 5th through 12th grades, I also organized the show so that there was a separate high school section, junior high section and 5th and 6th section.

I used the following categories:

  • watercolor
  • photography
  • acrylic
  • marker
  • pencil
  • sculpture
  • colored pencil
  • computer art
  • pastel
  • oil pastel
  • weaving
  • pottery
  • miscellaneous

Each year the categories changed a little depending on the students and what we had done that year in class.  If I got an entry that didn’t fit in any category I put it in miscellaneous.  Sometimes I combined classes if there were not enough entries to give the students some competition.  My goal was to give as many ribbons as possible, but to have the ribbons have meaning. To me a 1st place ribbon out of one was not really meaningful, thus I combined classes.

In addition to class winners in each grade section, I had the judges choose a Best of Show from the 1st place winners. So there was a Best of Show High School, Best of Show Junior High and a Best of Show 5th and 6th Grade.  These winners received a special ribbon or certificate and a donated award.

The awards came from generous sponsors my students had written to during the year. Students wrote telling of our school show and asking for donated prizes.  Sometimes a whole class signed the letters. We never knew what or if anything would be donated so we were always surprised as donated awards came in the mail.  I announced the awards and showed them to my classes.  This always increased the excitement of the show.

Through the years our school show received awards from First Bank of Anderson, Dlick Blick Art Materials, Da Vinci Paint Company, Sax Art Materials and art patrons that donated gift certificates for various art supply stores.  I even had one patron that called me each year wanting to donate certificates plus wanting to purchase a piece of art work from a student.  What a blessing that patron was. What a reward it was to the student to sell their work.

Another award that students could receive in the show was the People’s Choice Award.  This award was voted on by students, faculty, staff, administration, and parents.  Slips of paper were left at the front office under the supervision of our wonderful secretary. She monitored the voting.

Voting was allowed before and after school, during lunch and between class. I took my classes to see the art show as an assignment.  They had to judge the show and vote for People’s Choice. People were asked to choose a favorite piece in the 5th and 6th grade, one in junior high and one in high school.  I tallied the votes, and announced the winners the day after the awards ceremony.

I also awarded students for participation with an art reception that was held one evening for a few hours. Parents, students, school board members, administration, faculty and staff were invited. Cake and punch was served. I handed out art show programs that listed all the student participants and award sponsors. Parents seemed to really enjoy having a keepsake of the show.

During the reception, ribbons and awards were announced. Students attending received an extra 100 for a test grade. My students loved putting their names on the sign-in sheet, but most didn’t need the extra grade.

After 10 years of having an art reception the attendance really slacked off.  The art show had so much competition with athletic events, FFA functions, and other things that it became next to impossible to choose an evening where most students could attend.  So I adapted.

I changed the awards ceremony to a school assembly in which only art show participants were allowed to attend.  Teachers were given a list of participants and released them for a 30 minute ceremony where I gave out all the awards.  Students enjoyed getting out of class (another reward) and I was fortunate to have the support of the administration, faculty and staff.

Rewarding student participation in a school art show can be done in many ways such as giving out ribbons, prizes, bonus grades, making a program keepsake, or holding a reception/school assembly. I was personally rewarded with a sense of great satisfaction seeing the pride filled faces of my students when they showed others their work.  It was a great experience!

So, art teacher, I would like to hear from you. Tell me about your art show experiences. How do you reward your student artists?  How do you encourage student creativity?

Related Articles:

Why Organize a School Art Show?
How to Make Display Panels for a School Art Show
How to Mount Artwork for a School Art Show

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3 Responses to Rewarding Student Participation in a School Art Show

  1. Jane says:

    I like the way you write! Nice blog.

  2. TRINA RICO says:

    I have been doing alot of research via the web on ART SHOWS
    My interest is in putting on a Show that exhibits children of all ages pictures,paintings and the like for sale. All monies collected would go toward college tuition. I thought of this to help my daughter who is 13 yrs old but not only is she talented many of her friends are as well…. If you could give any pointers on this, I would much appreciate it.
    Thank-you so much !

  3. Trina:

    You would need a public place to put on a childrens’ art show that would get a lot of traffic. Divide the show into different categories such as painting, drawing, photography, colored pencil, etc. Divide the artwork by age group. After the show is judged you could hold an auction or silent auction to sell the art work. You might even get monies donated from art patrons for awards which could be considered scholarship money. The show would need a lot of advertisement. You would need to put on a reception to get people from the community involved. The Houston Livestock Show puts on a huge auction of childrens’ art work. The show gets a great amount of publicity on television, etc. and they have many businesses that come to support the auction. The child does not get all the money from the sale of their particular piece. The money is divided up with other children. Not sure about all the details. I have never been involved with that show. Your art show could be put on along with other activities or events.

    I wish you luck in your search for a way to promote children art. If I can be of any more help let me know. I have a childrens’ art show online at Art For Homeschool. You might want to check it out. But the work is not for sale. Although I’m sure that someone could contact the children to ask to buy a piece.

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