Bad Art Night

Every once in a while the teen librarian cajoles me into trying out a new tween program. It makes sense, our tweens are her future teens. She sent me a link for a Bad Art Night program that the Ontarian Librarian did and I wasn’t into the idea at first. Our tween programming isn’t bad, but I was kind of bored of it, and I was getting way more interested in early literacy programming. But after some more thought I decided to try out my own Bad Art Night. And not to ruin the suspense, but it. was. AWESOME.



Age: Grades 3-6
Time: 1 hour
Max number of Kids: 15
Cost: $25, plus previously owned materials
Marketing: Children in grades 3-6 will create some “Bad Art” with materials provided and vote on the “worst” art. A fun, creative program with no pressure for perfection.


The best part about this program was that I had so many materials on hand. I scavenged our storage room for most of the crafting goods. I scored two 7 packs of 11×14 canvases at Michaels for $10 each (they are usually $19.99!) Our brushes had seen better days, so I also picked up a $5 pack of 24 nicer brushes. Here is a mostly comprehensive list of everything I had to offer:


Selection of Materials

I used to do a program called Iron Chef Cupcakes. I loosely based it around competitive cooking shows. Kids would have a short amount of time to select their materials and then were given an amount of time to decorate their cupcakes. It was fun, messy, sugary, and creative. I view Bad Art Night as the art version of Iron Chef Cupcakes.

First, I had each table come up to select their paint colors. Each kid got a paper plate and they were each only allowed to select 3 paint colors to use. I asked the kids who hadn’t had their turn yet to think about the colors they wanted before it was their turn. This didn’t take as much time as I thought it would, but I definitely got paint all over my hands in the process. The canvases were already at each seat with one cup of water in the middle of each table as a brush washing cup.

I told them that scissors, brushes, glue sticks, and the foam paint stampers didn’t have to be collected during the 30 second stint. They could come up at any point during the program to collect them.

Art Creation

Once everyone was settled with all their materials and canvases I gave them about thirty minutes to create their art. Partway through this time I offered each kid an additional 10 seconds to grab more craft materials from the front table.

Once everyone had their plates of paint, I called up each table again (there were 2-4 kids at each table) and they each got a fresh paper plates. I set a timer for 30 seconds on my phone and in that time the kids could take whatever they could fit onto their plate. Some kids took just what they needed and some filled their plate. I did watch to make sure one kid didn’t take everything of a certain material and if they were I asked them to leave some stuff for others.

When the time was up everyone had to drop whatever they were doing. We went around the room and each kid said the title of their art piece. If I had more time, I would have also made them give a description of what their art piece was. This can be fun and silly; I was definitely not looking for serious art descriptions.

Voting and Judging

I gave each kid two popsicle sticks. These were their voting implements. They all walked around the room to look at everyone’s art creations and they could vote by placing the stick next to the canvas they wanted to win. We had a tie for the popular vote. I got my own vote as a judge extraordinaire, so all in all we had three winners. All the winners got to pick a book from a small pile of ARCs and other books I had to be holding on to for this reason.

Sum Up

It was such a fun program. I loved seeing how creative the kids could and they loved the “competition, but no pressure” format of the program.

The only thing I would potentially change is the title of the program. I had one kid who intentionally made her art “bad” because she wanted to win. At the beginning of the program I told them I didn’t think there really was such a thing as bad artwork and that they were free to make whatever they wanted. But she took is very literally. So I’m going to think about the title for the future.

I definitely could see doing this again, especially considering it was not too expensive and there’s wasn’t a lot of prep. Though there was plenty to clean up!

1 thought on “Bad Art Night”

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