Art in a Suitcase

Art-In-A-Suitcase is a District 12, all-volunteer program entering its 32nd year. Using materials on permanent loan from the National Gallery of Art, Art-in-A-Suitcase brings children additional opportunities to recognize, examine, create, and enjoy art. Drawing on the district’s extensive parental involvement, we are able to provide students a unique and creative supplement to their academic studies. Art in a Suitcase is a district-wide program at the elementary school level. Each year volunteer coordinators solicit parent volunteers for each school. Volunteers attend a training session to review lesson plans, teaching techniques, and art projects.

Each Art-in-A-Suitcase lesson is about 1 to 1.5 hours long and includes a 15-30 minute presentation by the volunteers who show slides or posters of renowned art, followed by a hands-on portion in which students create their own projects that connect to the topic of study. There are about 3 lessons per year (more for younger students, less for older students,) so you will not be overwhelmed with work! Using various teaching techniques learned in the training session, the volunteers solicit student opinions and get them involved in looking carefully at each work of art. A related project follows each lesson. Each volunteer is responsible for arranging the presentation time with the classroom teacher, getting the materials via the district mail, preparing for the lesson, and promptly returning the materials after the lesson.

We help children recognize that art can be examined and enjoyed from many points of view. By observing works of art, children can discover their own abilities to express themselves, either by choosing art that reflects their attitudes or by personally creating it. Through the process of learning about and appreciating fine art, children can become involved in the artist’s creation and gain awareness of their own feelings and talents.

The best part of this program is the excitement the children feel about art and their eagerness to participate and learn. A close second is your child’s pride when you arrive in their classroom laden with art supplies. You immediately become known to the entire class as “Art-in-a-Suitcase Lady or Man” and eventually even acquire a last name!