Set Up Your TAB Room in 7 Steps

Based on article by Cassidy Brinker, The Art of Ed, 2014

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If you are planning a change to Choice-Based art curriculum known as Teaching for Artistic Behavior or TAB, then do your research first. Changing your curriculum and/or teaching philosophy can be overwhelming, and at times, you might not know where to begin. Brinker suggests taking Art of Ed’s online class, “Choice Based Art Education” where you can learn a wide variety of ways you can teach along the Choice Spectrum, because it is not one size fits all!


After researching and reading about TAB, the next step is to set up centers or studios throughout your classroom. “One of the most important aspects of a TAB classroom is student independence. To give students independence, they need to be able to freely move around to get to the supplies they need. The more organized your classroom is, the more successful your students will be.” (Brinker)


Here are seven steps to help you create an organized TAB classroom:

  1. Label, label, label.  Labeling is one of the most important parts of TAB. Every supply needs a name and a home. Students must know what a supply is called and where it belongs. This part of the process can be time consuming, so enlist help from PTO, parents and older students, etc.

  2. Label supplies with an example photo.  Adding a photo of the supply helps students learn the name and see how the supply should look when it is put back correctly.

  3. Decide how supplies will be organized. Will students pick up one thing at a time, or will they take a group at one time. When introducing the supplies to the class you will need to be clear as how it’s to be organized.

  4. Find as many small baskets or buckets for organization as possible. Dollar stores and the dollar section at Target are great places to find inexpensive storage containers. Recyclable containers such as sour cream, plastic microwave dinner trays and food-to-go containers are free and earth-friendly but must be cleaned carefully.

  5. Organize your classroom by centers or studios.   These are the centers that are in Cassidy Brinker’s room: Collage, Drawing, Ceramic, Painting, Fiber. Other examples include: Art History, Sculpture, Architecture, Technology. Decide which centers will be permanent and what centers will be temporary.  Often budget will determine which ones are temporary.  For example, your budget may not cover ceramics materials to be out all year.

  6. Make posters.  Create procedure posters for each center to help increase independence.  You can find a plethora of TAB poster examples on Pinterest.

  7. Create procedures and expectations for cleanup.  This is one of the most important parts of TAB. You do not want to spend every moment of your time cleaning up after your students. By being proactive and constantly monitoring clean up, students will understand the expectations. If students do not clean up or organize a center, then close it for a few days. One sign or quote to post is, “The neater you keep the art studio, the messier I will let you get!”