Positive Reinforcement Game Board

Artopoly game board

Artopoly game board

After you get all of the routines and procedures in place, how do you reinforce those positive student actions? One way is by creating a Positive Reinforcement Game Board for your art room. I discovered this system from my colleague, Cassie, when I first started teaching and we shared a classroom. The game board can be as simple as a piece of poster board or as elaborate as your imagination can make it.

When I started using the game board it was called the “behavior game.” I know, how unexciting, but the kids didn’t seem to mind. This year I asked my students to come up with a new theme for the game board and they choose Artopoly based on Monopoly. Many of the game board spaces have images of public art found in Chicago instead of the traditional Monopoly spaces. You can pick any theme for your game board such as an artist palette, a book like Mouse Paint or a museum such as the Art Institute of Chicago. The idea behind it is simple but very effective in motivating my elementary students. Follow the classroom rules and you can advance around the game board to earn a reward.

Here’s how it works:

  • The game board rules are your classroom rules.
  • Each day your classes can earn a certain number of spaces to advance on the game board by following the classroom rules. My classes earn up to five spaces a day, but you can pick a number that works for your classes. I keep track of how many spaces my classes have earned by drawing stars on the dry erase board.
  • When the students are lined up at the end of art class, move their class game piece forward the amount of spaces they’ve earned for the day. At first my class game pieces were little flags made out of construction paper and push pins. Now they are made of scrap leather bookmarks that a local bank had extra of from a free give away and T-pins.
  • When a class reaches the end of the game board they earn a big reward! Remember, because this is a long-term incentive, the reward needs to be very enticing to your students. For my classes it’s an art party with numerous art centers to choose from while an art-themed movie is playing. Art centers can be a collage with scrap boxes, free draw, scented markers, gel pens, stamps, tracers, modeling clay, play dough, puzzles, leftover chalk pastels, leftover oil pastels, colored pencils, how to draw books, watercolor, crayons, weaving, markers, computers or murals on butcher-block paper. Basically, art centers are any media that encourages exploration, development of fine motor control or won’t cost extra.

New Twist on the Game Board

Drawn fish bowls with die cut paper fish used to track art centers earned by classes.

Drawn fish bowls with die cut paper fish used to track art centers earned by classes.

This year my school district adopted new nutrition rules that do not allow food to be used as a reward. I used to have a popcorn art party when a class reached the end of the game board with the art-themed movie and a few extra art activities. To replace the popcorn, my classes generated a list of art centers (listed above) that they would like to earn as they advance around the game board. When a class lands on a ? space I ask them an art question based on the content we studied that day or from previous years. If they answer the question correctly they earn an art center. To keep track of what each class has earned, I drew fish bowls to go with our all school behavior system The Fish Philosophy. This new twist on the game has worked out great! Students are working even harder to earn an art party but they don’t realize it. It also gives me another way to review content studied each day in class.

Hillary Andrlik

Hillary has been teaching art in the Chicago area since 2002 and was named Illinois Elementary Art Educator of the Year in 2012 by the Illinois Art Education Association. She received her art education degree from Illinois State University and masters from National Louis University. She is the co-founder and co-author of The Teaching Palette, a blog authored by art educators for art educators, and the digital editor for Illinois Art Education Association. Hillary's teaching strategies and lessons have been featured in numerous media, including School Arts magazine, and she has made several presentations on art education and technology in front of the Illinois Art Education Association and the National Art Education Association. Follow her on Twitter @hilland

4 Comments

  • September 1, 2009

    Brooke Nicholson

    I just started to use the game board this year, and so far it’s going great! The kids are very motivated by it so far. The only thing is…….what do you do when they land on a utility or a railroad?

  • September 3, 2009

    Hillary Andrlik

    I’m glad your classes are motivated by the game board. If the class landed on a railroad they earned a bonus space. If they landed on a utility I gave them an art question that was a little more difficult. If they answered the question correctly I let them choose the art-themed movie for their party. Usually I would give them a choice between three movies and the class would vote.

  • September 9, 2009

    Brooke Nicholson

    Great idea. I actually decided to switch it up a little. If they land on a utility, I asked a question, but if they got it wrong they had to move back a space – but they could also choose to not risk it and stay where they’re at. For the railroad I let them move seats for a day. Game is still working great, I think I may have put too many spaces on the board though, so some adjusting may come later on that :) Thanks again for the great idea!

  • September 9, 2009

    Hillary

    Brooke those are great adaptations for the game board. I really like the idea of picking thier own seats for one class.

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