In every art room, some students naturally work more quickly than others. However, the speed of students working doesn’t necessarily speak to the quality of the work. In all aspects of life, people perform tasks at different rates, which is no different in the art room. But, when it comes to the logistical planning of your curriculum, having half the class finished with a lesson while the other half is still working can be problematic.
Sure, early finisher activities might be the answer for some students, but others see these activities as busywork. You will always have students eager to finish homework for another class, work in their sketchbook or on an independent art project, or read a book. But, there will also be students who need something to do because they aren’t interested in any of the prior solutions. So, what does work for this group of students? Games!
Here are 6 art-related games you might consider adding to your classroom collection to engage early finishers.
1. Engage students with puzzles.
Studies show putting together a jigsaw puzzle benefits the cognition of people of all ages. According to Mary-Ellen Mort’s (2001) article, What Online Researchers Do for Fun: The Fine Art of Procrastination, the act of putting a puzzle together can put a person into a state of flow. When someone enters their flow state, it positively impacts creativity.
Puzzles can also improve memory, dexterity, cooperation, and problem-solving, all of which are great skills in the art room. Consider setting up a puzzle station in your art room. Yes, puzzles take up space, so you’ll need to get creative with how you display them. Using a roll-up puzzle mat or setting up the puzzle on a piece of foam core that can be easily moved might be a great place to start.
2. Play Twin It!™
The best way to describe the Twin It!™ game by Gamewright®, other than being fun, is a modernized and competitive game of memory. This game includes cards with 100 different patterns and designs. There are several ways to play the game, but the root of the game focuses on hand-eye coordination, short-term memory, and visual recognition.
It’s perfect for an art classroom setting because it can be played in large or small groups. The beautiful patterns on the cards can actually be used as an inspiration in art pieces. After introducing this game to your students, you’ll find they can’t get enough of it!
3. Try Go Fish art history.
Classic games like Go Fish will continue to stand the test of time and reach new generations. Birdcage Press has taken the traditional card game a step further by creating several art versions perfect for the classroom.
The best thing about a game like this is that it introduces students to new artists and artwork while including information about the artist on every single card. It’s easy to play and store, and even though your students might be playing a card game, they will quickly start absorbing the art facts on the cards.
4. Mix it up with Color Rush.
Some of the best learning experiences come through exploration and play. If you’re looking for ways to ensure your students gain authentic learning opportunities, try out the Color Rush color mixing game.
Even though this game is a perfect introductory lesson to any color theory unit, you’ll find your students will want to play it often. You can find the instructions for the game and download the game pieces here.
5. Try Bob Ross: The Art of Chill Board Game.
In recent years, the legacy of Bob Ross has become a viral sensation. Even our students who have little to no interest in art have been exposed to his transient paintings or his calming voice. If you have the Bob Ross: The Art of Chill game in your classroom, it will be no surprise that your students flock to the familiar face on the box.
While this game is one of strategy, it’s most suitable for an older age group of students, and it might take a few rounds to find the flow of the game. Nonetheless, this art-related game will expose students to painting materials without actually painting and force them to analyze and observe the artworks presented in the games without even realizing it.
6. Bring art history to life with Professor Noggin’s History of Art card game.
Professor Noggin’s History of Art is best described as a trivia game for the art room. It can be played in groups or even in teams as a whole class activity.
The trivia questions on these cards are appropriate for students and help you teach art history concepts you might not have even known!
The use of games in the classroom can serve many benefits. Whether it be to reinforce concepts or engage students in art-related activities, you can almost always find a way for them to work in your classroom. Try out one of these six games to further infuse the world of art into an engaging learning experience for students.
For more resources for early finishers, make sure to watch the PRO Pack, Methods for Early Finishers, found in PRO Learning.
What’s your favorite game for the art room?
How do you engage those learners who always finish their artwork quickly?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.