Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Art Games and Activities: May's Stepping Stones

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 their 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.

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 your capsules in a large Tupperware or jar for the students to choose from!

Hue Knew!: 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:  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.

Project Starters

Art Dice-While floating around on the Pinterest site, 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 Miro’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 Miro-Inspired creation that students can use for bigger projects!  I’ve also seen this exercise used to build monsters and Keith Haring-inspired drawings!  These worksheets can be designed by you, 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.  The technique was invented by surrealists back in the early 1900’s, but artists and students use the fun activity to see what imaginative designs they develop.

Interactive Online Games

Create your own Jeopardy Game-If you go to the website SuperTeacher 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 6th 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!

Psst...would you like to see my symbaloo board for art games?  Click on my link on top of his page, Art With Mrs. O'Hanley!

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!  

Monday, April 4, 2016

Setting Up Your Art Show: April's Stepping Stones

One of the many responsibilities we have as the art teacher is promoting student work with the community. Even though the task can be challenging, once the artwork is up and the attendees come to view the work, we’re filled with overwhelming pride and joy in our students’ creative talents.

1. Why have an art show? An art show is a great way to share the amazing works created by your students. No matter what grade level you teach, parents and community members will flock to see your students’ creations. One of our national visual arts standards is “presenting,” which focuses on analyzing, interpreting, and selecting artistic works for presentation. Within the anchor standards, we should work with students in identifying and explaining the purpose of a portfolio or collection of work, as well as how exhibiting art inside and outside of school can benefit the community.
2. When is the best time for a show? The timing of your show depends on your schedule. Many schools offer art shows in the springtime to share the student artworks collected over the recent school year.
The elementary schools in my district hosts an art show in the late spring to showcase the winners of our annual art contest for third through 6th graders.
Some schools choose to work with themed shows, like a multicultural fair or holiday extravaganza. A few years back, my previous school held a multicultural fair for all teachers and students to participate in. Around the perimeter of the fair, I displayed students artworks inspired by different cultures for attendees to view. You can also host an art show in the fall! In our district, the Jr. High hosts a gallery night in the mid-fall to showcase student work current and past, as well as promote the artworks of the staff and local high school.
3. Who should I recruit to help? The students and their parents would be the best people to contact first. If you have a school newsletter or a website, I would recommend creating a “call for assistance” to help in setting up the show and prepping the projects. You can also try to ask the student council, art club, and even administration! In some schools, teachers are even required by contract to stay for one event of their choosing during the school year. You may even wish to ask teachers in your school (if you have that option) for their assistance to fulfill their requirements.

4. What should I prepare for the show? Depending on the theme of your show, you can hang anything your students have created! For two-dimensional pieces, try framing them with either paper or matt board. Use dots of glue, spray adhesive or tape to attach the frames. Most of my students’ 2-D projects are always framed with colored paper once completed. A frame helps make the artwork more presentable and gives you less work to prepare before a show.
Once the artwork is prepped, think about how you plan to share information about the projects. You could print out a description to matt, or you can create and print out a QR code that leads to the website connected to the artwork. For example, if your students’ work was inspired by the artist Keith Haring, consider linking the QR code to the Keith Haring website for parents and attendees to view a biography about the artist. You can do this for any artist, time period, or cultural reference.
Are you planning on adding student names to the artwork? Consider printing labels with students’ names and dates to place on the frame.
5. How should I advertise? If your district has a website, newsletter or any social-media outlet, make sure to send them a press release statement about the show! I would even utilize Artsonia’s digital newsletter to help remind parents and family members about the upcoming show. You can also create invitations to go home with students.
6. I don’t have time for an art show. What else can I do to promote my students’ work? If you do not have the time to set up your own art show but still want to host, there’s a fundraising company called “Artomé” ( that offers assistance in hosting art shows.

They provide the paper for each student, professionally frame the original artwork for each student, and their team delivers and arranges the gallery with their displays. The parents can choose to purchase the frame for their children’s artwork at the show. Artomé also disassemble the gallery, un-frame and return any remaining artwork. All you need to do is coordinate when the show will be set up and then advertise!
If you’re planning your art show for the spring, the best of luck to you and your students! Once the artworks are set up, enjoy the show with your young artists.