Article 4 of 10
by Debi West
Playing games is fun! It’s really that simple. Today, our games look much different than the games we played in the 1970s and ’80s. Now, most games are digital and on our student’s smart phones. So this is another advanced lesson that not only has our students creating beautiful art, it also forces them to think divergently and incorporate research.
When I first learned about a similar lesson at a past National Art Education Association convention, I remember thinking about the many ways in which my kids could interpret the meaning of “games.”
I returned from the convention and, like always, was excited to share my newly formed ideas with my students so they would have some voice in each lesson.
They were particularly excited about this one and we immediately began discussing the many definitions of “GAME,” deciding on this one as a focus: “A form of play or sport, especially a competitive one, played according to rules and decided by skill, strength or luck.”
We also created a collaborative list of some of their favorite games, which included: Monopoly, Risk, Life, Solitaire, Mario, Peek-A-Boo, Spin the Bottle, Uno, Chess, Football, Wii, and more. The list was long and the kids had so much fun reminiscing about their childhood memories, as well as naming some of their favorite games today.
Once we completed our class list of games, students were then encouraged to make their own personal list of games, and begin to envision and sketch out ways they could turn these ideas into creative solutions. With creative solutions, come great pieces of art! Many considered ways to turn these works into a concentration piece, while several deliberated how they could use the word “game” itself as their concentration focus.
As students began to research their top five games they were then quickly narrowed down to the top three, in terms of visual imagery and the overall story the art could tell. They considered the objective of the game, the rules, the playing pieces, the strategies, the energy surrounding the game, and more. This is where our job as “visual art guide” really comes into action.
As I walked around the room and saw my students’ sketches, I was thrilled with their thinking processes and encouraged them to continue to push their work ideas. They considered size, media, color theory, and took into account art-historical references and the final results were truly inspiring!
Once again, I didn’t narrow down the lesson in terms of specifics. I basically gave them the prompt of “Game On!” By giving them this freedom of choice, their final works went to places they couldn’t have imagined! This is a “game” I’m positive your students will enjoy, and ultimately win!
Next Up: “Transportation.”
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A&A Contributing Editor Debi West, Ed.S, NBCT, was an art educator and department chair at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Georgia. She is now involved with her two businesses, WESTpectations Educational Consulting and Crystal Collage Children’s Art Studio in Suwanee.