Center activities are a great way for students to work cooperatively, experiment with new materials, and think creatively. I start by organizing groups consisting of 4-5 students. At this time it is also important to explain the center rules including how each station works and a one minute clean-up before rotation. One of the easiest ways to keep track of time is by using a count-down clock projected on the screen for everyone to see. Centers have been a life-saver for situations when a class is finished with a project way ahead of the rest of the grade level (due to assemblies, no school, etc.) or as a back-up sub plan.
If you’re looking to develop your own art center activities, or looking for new ideas, the following may inspire you:
Pictionary. This classic game can be played in only a few minutes. Create your own words for kids to draw or use the ones provided in Squint.
Sculptorades. Cranium created this twist on Pictionary where instead of drawing you sculpt objects out of Cranium clay. You can easily create your own version with play-dough, a sand timer, and playing cards you create. Just grab a digital camera and take pictures of different objects (i.e., celery, dog, car, hand, butterfly). You can even sneak in cards that make connections to what students are studying in the classroom. Print images on a heavy weight paper and laminate for durability. Taylor the game to students even more by creating numerous sets of playing cards for different ability levels and grades.
Pattern Play. Kids love this puzzle game! I use it with students as young as Kindergarten. Or build your own wood pattern puzzle by following directions found on Mer Mag.
Toobers and Zots. Thanks to a guest post by Jan Johnson (and eBay), these sculpture-making objects are a hit in my room.
In the Garden. These soft foam puzzle pieces have endless tessellation possibilities. Busy Beetles and Batty Lizards is another option shared with us by Susan Tiemstra. For older students who like more of a challenge try Squzzle Puzzles.
Art Print Puzzle. Read this post on how to create your own for free.
“How to draw” cartooning books. Just set these out with some copy paper. Among my students’ favorites are 101 Funny People and Spongebob Squarepants. I also encourage the students to create their own funny pictures by combining two objects.
Connectagons. This product is so simple, yet creates fantastic sculptural forms.
Squizzles. I inherited a set of these square puzzles when I first started teaching. Read a product review here.
Modeling Clay. Set out tooth picks, plastic knives, forks and let the creativity happen.
Color Sudoku. Based on the original, I developed this color logic game for my students. Download this color sudoku game for free.
Laptops. If you have access to a few laptops and the Internet, let your students explore online art games. I use this page set up for students to choose their online activity (resource page created by Hillary Andrlik).
Picasso Carnival. This idea was developed by Tricia Fuglestad consisting of centers focused around Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory.
After watching enough people work on sudoku number puzzles, it occurred to me that this logic game can be easily adapted to art by substituting the numbers for colors or symbols.
Color sudoku follows three basic rules:
1. Use all the color options in each box without repeating
2 Use all the color options in each row without repeating
3. Use all the color options in each column without repeating
Since I love sharing – feel free to download the low-tech color version of sudoku that I created as an extension activity. I printed mine on tag board and laminated to keep clean. I also wanted to keep the colors consistent between the game boards and the pieces so I printed out color sheets and cut them down into pieces that fit each puzzle. Since the 4 color sudoku need larger pieces than the 6 color and 9 color, I keep those pieces separate in a zip lock bag. Reuse a shallow class-pack type box to store the entire kit together.
Use the 4-color sudoku for younger students or to introduce the concept for the first time. Let the kids differentiate their own learning by choosing their own difficulty level. I don’t use answer keys (if you follow the rules, you know when you have found the solution) - although you could easily create your own by writing in the color names on an extra printout by solving yourself (or have a student do it for you).
4 Color Sudoku: (Beginner)
4-Color Sudoku #1
4-Color Sudoku #2
4-Color Sudoku #3
4-Color Sudoku #4
6 Color Sudoku: (Beginner/Intermediate)
6- Color Sudoku #1
6- Color Sudoku #2
6- Color Sudoku #3
9 Color Sudoku: (Intermediate)
9 Color Sudoku #1
9 Color Sudoku #2
9 Color Sudoku #3
9 Color Sudoku #4
9 Color Sudoku #5
9 Color Sudoku #6
9 Color Sudoku: (Advanced)
9 Color Sudoku #7 (advanced)
9 Color Sudoku #8 (advanced)
9 Color Sudoku #9 (advanced)
Color-Sheets to print: (Cut down to fit sudoku puzzles)
Idea update 3/18/10: Print out duplicate sudoku game cards so students can challenge each other to see who can finish card first.
Reader suggested update 8/24/13: Blank Sudoku Cards for the students to create themselves. Great idea Amy!
Since the launch of the iTunes App Store in July 2008, over 1 billion apps have been downloaded for use on the iTouch and iPhone. Currently, the App Store has 63,000 apps to choose from and it is no surprise that many of the iPhone/iTouch applications have educational value. Over the last few weeks, we sorted through our favorites to create The Teaching Palette’s Best Apps for Art Teachers, along with some tips and suggested uses.
- Love Art-Natl Gallery London This is an absolutely beautiful museum app that integrates audio and video presentations based on the collections in the museum. A great learning tool containing snapshots of a wide range of art history.
- Brushes Familiar with the New Yorker Cover that was created using an iPhone app? It was created with the Brushes painting app and tops our list. Easy to use beginning with the very young. Watch a speed portrait here.
- TypeDrawing Draw with text. This fun app uses a single letter or phrase as the drawing tool. A completely new way of drawing (and thinking about drawing). See some examples in this Flickr pool.
- TanZen Familiar with Tangrams? This app combines math and art concepts together. Move, rotate, and flip shapes to form a larger image. Great for improving spatial intelligence.
- Art (Lite version) This art history game features five famous artists. Can you identify which artist created each work of art? Master this app, then upgrade to the paid version of Art. Another nice feature of this app is the option to load images into your photo gallery for use in other applications.
- Art2Go This app is an engaging and useful presentation of 19th and early 20th century artists and their work using audio commentary. Useful for all grade levels and art backgrounds.
- Color Splash This is an extremely simple app to use with some amazing effects. Teach the principle of emphasis by isolating a single image in color while the remainder of the photograph stands in black and white. See how easy this app is to use in this video tutorial.
- Animoto Near identical to the traditional web-based version, Animoto coordinates your images to the beat of music. Great for artist presentations or student portfolios. Completed presentations can be downloaded or emailed.
- FlipBook (Lite version) This is one of the best animation apps available. Features allow for replication of images and transparency effects to see previous slide. Click here for a guided tour of the app.
- PixPop Art – This is a challenging and very fun detail detective game. Utilizing fine art, detail images line the right side of the screen while you search for the match. Work in competition mode timing yourself or work at your own pace in Zen mode.
- 3D gallery Be a curator of your own museum. Enter this 3-D room and rearrange the paintings or choose your own images from photo gallery. This would be a great tool to display artwork created throughout the year or to focus on an art time period or genre. Note: There is currently no “save” feature, but if you click your on/off button at the same time as the menu button, you can create a screenshot that saves in photos on the camera roll.
- Comic Touch (Lite version) Add some humor to art historical images or commentary to student artwork with this single pane comic creator. Save to photo library or email. Upgrade to the paid version of Comic Touch and get interesting special effects and fonts. Watch an intro video here.
- Life Strips This is a great tool for creating comic strips. Utilizes a wide variety of comic strip templates and speech bubbles. Add photos and utilize filters to for adding special effects. Even add a Google map!
- Light Painting Have you ever created a photographic light painting? While standard flashlights and LED lights work fine, this app offers additional light features otherwise hard to replicate. Use these tips and tricks to get started.
- Open Culture - Find a nice group of audio and video podcasts from well known art museums in the “ideas and culture” category. The same category also contains animated New Yorker cartoons.
- AP Mobile Create a search for “Art” and get the latest news articles from around the world. Useful app for older students to reflect on culture and current events.
- Jazz Sculptor Utilize a wide variety of virtual materials and textures to carve a sculpture from a variety of forms. Rotate image to view at a 360 degree angle. Nice exercise to understand the subtractive carving process. See the Jazz Sculptor gallery for inspiration.
- ScuptMaster3D Create three-dimensional art using a variety of colors with this virtual material that appears inspired by Henry Moore. Great way to introduce and reinforce positive and negative space concepts. View this video tutorial for an overview.
- Architect Envi Deluxe – This app organizes architecture by building name, architect, or century created. It is presented in a slide-show format with the option to learn more about the building and save in the camera roll for use/manipulation in other applications. Yet, the best feature of this app is the option to view each architectural structure in Google Maps.
- Color Sudoku Forget the numbers – this is Sudoku in color! Game has a different levels of difficulty and color schemes.
- Eyetricks This app has a nice collection of optical illusions. Good for early finishers or as intro to an OP Art unit.
- Color Wheel -This color wheel uses advanced color theory concepts to reinforce color understanding. Useful interactive app for older students.
- Brooklyn Museum Tour the collection of art at the Brooklyn Museum. ”Randomize” is a nice feature to view artwork you might otherwise miss.
- Symmetry Useful tool for teaching symmetry to younger students. Watch this video for a quick demo.
- MovieMaker This is a great tool for creating stop-motion animations and time-lapse movies. Since it requires the camera on an iPhone, this app is perhaps most useful as an extension for students who have access to iPhone technology.
- PotteryWheel While this is certainly not a a replacement for the hands-on wheel throwing experience, this pottery wheel gives the basic idea of the cause and effect.
- Artist’s Touch This app requires little artistic talent but is useful when teaching about abstract art. Non-objective to representational- reveal your image using a variety of textures and paint tools. Be sure to watch video tutorial to get started.
- Google Earth This is a great app to integrate geographic locations of artists or cultures. Watch this video tutorial to get started.
- Gallery of Painters Contains a large collection of artists that can be searched alphabetically, by century, or nationality. View basic information or link directly to Wikipedia for detail information. Useful for research.
- Juxtaposer and Juxtaposer Lite This is a fun tool for teaching about Surrealism. Reinforce juxtaposition by taking a photo of your classroom and a selecting objects from a second photo to create a Magritte-like composition. Watch this video review to see what this app can do.
Ok . . so now what? Here are some additional tips and considerations to start using the apps:
- Not all the apps are free, but once purchased, an app can be used on multiple iTouch’s with no additional charge.
- Most schools do not have access to multiple iTouch’s (yet). But even just one iTouch can be used as an extension for an early finisher or projected on a screen for the entire class to view using a document camera.
- Some students may have access to a personal iTouch or even a parent’s iPhone. Create a recommended app list for these students to try out at home. You could even tie it into an extra credit option.
- Use it yourself to create your own art or brush up on art history.
- Find useful tips, reviews, and connect with other educators using apps in education at IEAR.org
What are your favorite apps for art education?