Stepping Stones is a monthly column that breaks down seemingly daunting tasks into simple, manageable “steps” that any art educator can take and apply directly to their classroom. Stepping Stones will explore a variety of topics and share advice for art-on-a-cart teachers and those with art rooms.
GAMES IN ART CLASS
by Heidi O’Hanley
Throughout the school year, you spend a majority of time in your classes discussing artists, cultures, concepts, and history, on top of creating projects inspired by those ideas. Having a variety of teaching strategies in the art class helps students of all learning styles develop their skills. One element you can include is using art games in your class.
Why include games in art? Students enjoy a change of pace, especially when they’re given small challenges to improve their creative thinking skills. You can include games and mini-challenges in quite a few different ways, such as time-fillers, beginning activities for lesson units, or quick tests in the middle of projects.
1. TIME FILLERS FOR THOSE WHO FINISH EARLY
• Challenge Capsules. My 7-year-old daughter loves those quarter machines that give you the capsule with a tiny toy inside. Over time, those little capsules end up all over the house or in recycling. Now, imagine if you saved those plastic capsules for your art class? Similar to a fortune cookie, write out artistic challenges to place in the empty capsules. When a student finishes early and doesn’t know what they want to do to fill their time, have them choose a capsule challenge to complete on their own! The challenges could include drawing exercises, origami designs, or low-key collage work. Keep the capsules in a large plastic container for the students to choose from!
• Hue Knew! is a small game that multiple students can play together. The game has different circles with over 9 different color names (printed in different colors), and 10 pegs total. The game helps students to identify the color with the word while helping them to think faster than their opponents. I’ve had the game in my classroom for years, all the pieces are still there, and students love to team up and play when multiple people are finished!
• Tangoes is an excellent art game that exercises critical thinking skills. In the game container, you’re given a few geometric shapes (triangles, squares, etc.) and cards with random designs. The trick is to fill in the designs with the shapes provided to the player. It is amazing watching my students figuring out the puzzle to each design given.
2. PROJECT STARTERS
• Art Dice. While floating around on Pinterest, I found many bloggers who created their own “dice” exercise to help build a drawing. My favorite one to use is the worksheet with shapes seen in Joan Miró’s artworks. Students at their tables roll the dice, then whatever number they get corresponds with the shape given in the worksheet. In the end, you get a Miró-inspired creation that students can use for bigger projects! I’ve also seen this exercise used to build monsters and Keith Haring-inspired drawings! You can design these worksheets, or you can find then in a Google search as a classroom resource.
• Exquisite Corpse is a creative method of collecting words or images in an assembled collaboration. Each person involved add to the sentence or artwork without knowing what was previously written or drawn, then once passed around, you can reveal the completed sentence or artwork. Surrealists invented the technique back in the early 1900s, but artists and students use the fun activity to see what imaginative designs they develop.
3. INTERACTIVE ONLINE GAMES
• Create your own Jeopardy Game. If you go to the website Super Teacher Tools, you can create your own jeopardy- style game to use within your classroom! Whatever game you create, as long as you save the link, you can re-use for any classes you have over time. You enter in the categories and the answers, while the students guess the question!
I used this tool for my sixth-grade students at the end of the year once they finished their art history units. Each category was a time period and sub-categories were vocabulary they had learned throughout the year.
• Symbaloo is a website that helps create a bookmark page of your most visited sites. Unlike Pinterest, which bookmarks sites into categories, Symbaloo is designed for you to see thumbnails of your bookmarked sites in one page. This page can then be added as a widget to your website or blog.
Since I have a classroom website already created, I added my Symbaloo widget to my home page. When students are finished with projects and have access to computers, all they need to do is visit my website and click and choose which sites and games they wish to play online!
There are so many ways to include games and challenges in your art class, no matter if you’re in a classroom or cart. It’s amazing to see the faces of my students when I spring a game on them to exercise their imaginations!
Arts & Activities Contributing Editor, Heidi O’Hanley (NBCT) teaches elementary art for Indian Springs School District #109, in the Greater Chicago Area. Visit her blog at www.talesfromthetravellingartteacher.blogspot.com.