Board games have always been a wonderful way of teaching children patience, taking turns, counting, colors and so much more. They’re engaging and can help review or introduce new concepts without students even realizing it. But it can be difficult to find a pre-made game board that fits the art curriculum and stays in budget for an entire class.
Instead of searching for the perfect game, try creating your own, or better yet, use student-created game boards. Just hand students a blank game board and watch them use those higher-level thinking skills like Synthesis from Bloom’s Taxonomy!
How to Get Started
Game board templates can be quickly made on the computer with any word processing program like iWork’s Pages or Microsoft Word. Both programs have shape tools that can create a basic layout for blank game boards. Leave all the spaces empty for students to fill or you can partially pre-fill some spaces with directions (i.e., move forward 1 space, miss a turn, pull a card). Print the blank game boards on standard paper and then enlarge onto 12″ x 18″ paper using the bypass feed on a coping machine. (Every copy machine is different so you will have to experiment to find the right settings.) Download one of the blank game board templates below to get started or help inspire your own.
The best part of this activity is that a large amount of content can be easily incorporated. Review an art process, vocabulary, or the elements and principles of art. Just project the vocabulary or content with an overhead projector or document camera for students to view while they work. An even simpler technique is to utilize your own word wall, time line, color wheel or art posters already hanging in the art room. Take a look around and I’m sure you’ll find a lot of vocabulary and content already on display. I used this technique with my word wall to have students utilize art vocabulary in creating their games. Below you can download and print a blank version of the word wall game board or an image filled version that’s ready to print and play.
Tokens, Spinners & Timmers
Games come in all shapes and sizes and often with a lot of extra pieces. These extra pieces can really get students excited about creating and playing their games. I took a trip to the local teacher store and picked up some pieces that kids could used in their games. The community game pieces stay in the art room and are used over and over again. I store them in a Crayola classroom marker box that I re-purposed for easy access, storing and distribution. Make sure to show students the community game pieces before they start. This will help them generate ideas for how to structure their own board. Students will also create their own game rules. Below is a list of possible pieces you might want to have in your collection.
- Minute Sand Timers = Students use them to put time limits on answering questions.
- Dice = I picked up traditional dice and some fun double dice. They were an instant hit!
- Blank Dice = I colored each side of the blank die with a different color sharpie. This way students could roll for a color instead of a number. On another blank die a drew different shapes.
- Printable Dice = Create custom paper dice at Tools For Educators Dice Maker. Click here to download printable Art Dice created using Dice Maker.
- Pawns = These pieces come in all shapes and sizes and are used to represent each player as he or she move around the game board. You can purchase them at an online game board manufacturer, teacher store or from a garage sale. Really anything can be used such as buttons, glass gems that are flat on one side or constructed out of scrap paper. I had one student fold origami frogs for their game.
- Spinners = Click on these links to print spinner templates: Home School Hutt or Ready Made Game Boards. You can also purchase spinner arrows to make a classroom set of spinners. I have numerous community spinners that students can use and are themed on topics like types or art, types of line or the color wheel.
- Game Cards = Use index cards or cut scraps of paper into a uniform size to use as question or game cards. You can also go to Ready-Made Game Boards and scroll to the bottom of the screen to download templates for Avery business cards. The business cards are printable and can be folded and separated for use.