Level Up the Fun! 11 Awesome Art Games to End the Year

art heist lasers

Heading into the final stretch of the year can be daunting—supplies are running short and attention spans are getting even shorter. Finishing projects and getting everything returned in the last weeks of school can be stressful for both you and your students. One great solution for this time of year is educational games. They can serve many different purposes in your classroom, from reviewing key concepts to exploring art history to getting students to think critically.

Try these 11 fun and educational games to keep your students engaged up to the final bell of the year.

Games provide closure to a unit or year without the challenge of rushing to finish projects on the way out of the door. The games below will keep students focused and enthusiastic while reviewing information in a fun way. Plus, they can be customized for any grade level or course!

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1. Where’s Whaledo?

Narwhals are the unicorns of the sea and there is nothing better than bringing magic to a careful examination of artworks. Use our bespectacled narwhal friend, Whaledo, in the perfect hidden picture art room game. Use your favorite image editing software to drop Whaledo into famous artwork. Print the images and laminate them for students to circle Whaledo with dry-erase markers or simply project the images on the board. After students find Whaledo, ask them what other interesting details they discovered. Download Whaledo and the corresponding instructional guide today!

downloadable resource

Download Now!

2. Trivia Challenge

There is a reason games like Jeopardy and Around the World are still popular decades later. Everyone loves the opportunity to show what they know. All you need is a slide deck with questions from your curriculum. Additionally, try the Art Trivia Take-Away Lesson and Game Guide in FLEX Curriculum for an activity where students reflect on art concepts and art history.

Here are three tips to keep your students on their A-game:

  1. Allow students to work in teams to keep it low-pressure.
  2. Include bonus questions of silly personal trivia to make it more fun!
  3. Add in challenges to get students moving. For example, Race to assemble a color wheel from found objects in the classroom!

3. Picture Puzzle

Puzzles are a relaxing way to review prior learning. Print pictures of the artworks your students learned about this year. Cut them into pieces considering appropriate sizes and shapes for your students’ levels. Make it a race to not only assemble the picture puzzle but also identify the artist, artwork title, and big ideas students recall from the lesson.

4. Mystery Drawing

Students are often mentally exhausted when they complete testing, portfolio submissions, and final exams. Many students will find comfort in directed drawings or other guided practice activities. Keep things simple but introduce a little bit of intrigue!

Here are three ways to keep students guessing the entire time:

  1. Guide students through an activity step-by-step without telling them what the end result will be.
  2. Facilitate a drawing upside-down and don’t tell students to flip their papers right-side up until the end.
  3. Try an exquisite corpse drawing and watch the delight when students unfold their papers.

5. Art Room Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt is fun at any age. To make a scavenger hunt more educational, give students clues that pose a problem and challenge them to find the correct tool. For example, instead of telling students to find a brayer, a clue might read, “I want to make a print. I have a printing plate, a piece of paper, a tube of ink, and an ink plate. What else do I need?” This approach requires students to think through the process. You can also challenge your students to find examples of artworks that show a particular mood or have a specific subject matter, or search their portfolio for a project that demonstrates a certain technique.

6. Quick Draw

Use individual dry-erase boards, take turns in front of the class at the main board, or use scrap paper. Give students a drawing prompt with a list of criteria and watch them race to sketch it all. Ensure students demonstrate craftsmanship by including Elements and Principles as criteria. For example, a prompt could be, “Draw a person using geometric shapes and hatched lines.

This can be a quick five-minute game or you can extend it by adding multiple rounds. Additionally, turn it into a tournament or a team relay to keep the fun going. Another alternative is to put drawing prompts at different stations around the room to get students moving.

portrait drawing

7. Virtual Escape Room

Identify key concepts by looking at objectives, assessments, and vocabulary lists from the year. Use this information to generate questions you want students to answer. Add the questions to a Google Form and use the response validation tool to let students advance only once they’ve completed a question or task correctly. Include riddles and hidden codes to keep students on their toes!

8. Custom Board Games

Let your students take the lead by designing their own board games, either in pairs or small groups. Creating a game requires students to ideate, problem-solve, draw, sculpt, write, and present ideas. Depending on your schedule and requirements, creating a game can take students anywhere from a week to a month. As a culminating activity, host a Game Day and allow students to play one another’s games to give constructive feedback. Hopefully, they’ll remember their favorite art teacher when their games become a hit outside of the classroom!

9. Art on Trial

This game will motivate your students to examine and think critically about art. It will push students to get beyond the default responses like, “It looks cool” or “I like the colors.” Put a famous work of art up on the board and announce the work stands accused of being awful. Divide the class into three groups. One group will serve as the prosecution. One group will be the defense team, and the third group has jury duty. Allow a period of discovery for the prosecution and defense teams to discuss the evidence for their sides. Then, allow each side to present their case and give one minute for a closing statement. Finally, the jury will deliberate. Each juror will share the point they found most persuasive as they vote for either the prosecution or the defense.

10. Art Heist Challenge

You may recall hearing about this game on Art Ed Radio. The premise of the game is simple: Your nemesis, Dr. Meaniebadguy, stole some of the greatest artworks from museums around the world! Students must figure out which works he stole and recover them. Print pictures of a variety of artworks along with clues describing the pieces. Set up an obstacle course between the students and the artworks and hide the clues along the way. For instance, you can use yarn to make a maze of “lasers.” Students must avoid touching the “lasers” to prevent the alarm system from sounding. Try neon yarn and black lights to create a special effect! Students love this game which engages them both mentally and physically.

art heist lasers

11. Fact or Fake

Share odd and interesting bits of trivia about an artist or artwork. In teams, challenge students to spot which is fact and which is fake. Once the team decides, they write fact or fake on a dry-erase board and hold it up. Provide points to the teams who write the correct response and keep score.

Transform the end of the school year from a time of restlessness and boredom to joyful artistic engagement. Turn looking at and reviewing art into a magical experience by searching for Whaledo. Bring in trivia to challenge your students through collaboration and friendly competition. Incorporate the element of mystery with an escape room, quick draw activity, or art heist challenge. All of these games are great ways to keep students invested in your class, reviewing content from the year, and making art right up until the last bell.

For more art room games, check out the following:

How do you make time for joy and fun in your art room?

Share your student-favorite art games!

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.


Kyle Wood

Kyle Wood, an elementary school art educator, is a current AOEU Writer. He strives to make the art classroom fun through gamification and enjoys creating art history podcasts.

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