May 26, 2014

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When the Art History Carnival Comes to Town!

As we near the end of the school year, the days are winding down, but our students are winding up. Working on a still life is out of the question when the kids can’t even sit still themselves. The sun is shinning, the temperature is rising and nobody wants to keep a seat warm. You need a project to keep your students entertained without compromising the information. It’s time for an Art History Carnival!
 
art history carnival
 

Here are 4 steps to take to bring the
Art History Carnival to your school!

 

Step 1: Research with a twist

If you tell your students they need to research an artist or famous work of art, your request will be met with groans. If you let them know they are completing the research in order to design a spectacular carnival game, you will see their eyes brighten. Keep in mind that since creating a carnival game takes more than an individual, you might consider putting students into groups starting with the research portion of the project.

With any research, there will be questions that need to be answered. Carnival research adds a new layer. Besides the expected biographical information, students need to look for connections. What can they find about an artist’s genre, subject matter or life events that align with a game at a carnival?
 

Step 2: Game Design

Completing the research arms the students with information. Taking that information and formulating a plan for creating the game is the next step. Students must consider what carnival game best aligns with their research and then design a plan for building the one they choose. Now is the time to answers questions like: How will the game be played? How will it be constructed? What will the prizes be for those who win?

A sketch of the design is a must along with a list of materials they will need for construction and how they will obtain materials that aren’t readily available in class. Students should also develop a rough outline of which members of their team with be responsible for completing which tasks. This is a practical way to make sure that jobs are distributed evenly throughout the group.
 

Step 3: Construction

Any project designed for the outdoors takes up a lot of space indoors. Having enough room where students can work, and later, store their projects can be an issue. Noise and organized chaos are two other factors. Be prepared for the sound of swinging hammers, sawing sawsand students having a blast as they work through challenges that arise during construction.
 

Step 4: Invite the School to Attend

Carnival games are only fun when they are being played. Since the games must be manned by the students who constructed them, consider inviting other classes to join in on the fun. Teachers will appreciate the invite especially considering the activity is both fun and informative. Sending an email invite a few days in advance is considerate and gives teachers time to plan ahead. Fridays make great carnival days. Just remember to check the weather.
 

Here are 3 game ideas to get you started!

 

Pop the Pollock

Pop the Pollock is a functioning “ring the bell” type game with a twist! Instead of ringing a bell, the challenge was to pop a water balloon that sat at the top. The water balloon was filled with paint so when it broke, it splattered all over.

carnival3

carnival
 

Andy Warhol Ball

Knock down the soup cans and win a prize. Don’t be easily deceived.  Our crafty carnies made sure the cans were not equally weighted.  Needless to say, one of our most popular games was also one of the hardest to win!

carnival4
 

Mondrian Twister

You can’t touch the black, only the primary colors. Good luck with that!

carnival8
 
 

Have you ever had students design an interactive art experience for your school? 

What other games could you imagine playing at an Art History Carnival? 

 
 
 

IanThis article was written by AOE Team member Ian Sands. Ian is the incredibly creative HS Art Teacher from Apex High in North Carolina. Ian is originally from NYC where he received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts.

About Ian | Ian’s Articles

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  • http://www.theartofed.com/ Sarah

    Brilliant idea!

  • Rachel

    During the last two years, I had my students do something similar to this. After watching the Caine’s Arcade video, they designed cardboard sculptures for the Art Fair. People attending the Art Fair could win tickets for prizes. I like the artist research/famous work of art idea and will incorporate that next year.

  • artprojectgirl

    You are so cool. Really. Just awesomeness.

  • Michelle Melendez

    Love this!

  • don masse

    very cool. i’d love to add something like this to our end of the year elementary activities!

  • Wendi B

    I can’t stand it! what a great idea, I love this! i will be incorporated this in my END-of-art camp for summer!

  • kim

    what a cool and creative way to teach art history!!

  • iansands

    Thanks everyone!
    A few of the other games included a pool with floating ducks dressed in ballerina costumes (Degas). Each duck had a number on the bottom. Pick up a ballerina duck and win a prize!

    There was a Keith Haring shooting gallery with little Haring figures you had to shoot down with a rubber and gun.

    And an Oldenburg hamburger race. The students made giant hamburger parts by stuffing and stapling sheets of bulletin board paper together.. Giant buns, giant lettuce, tomato, etc. there were three sets. Three people competed by grabbing a hamburger part and running down to the end of the field then running back for another part. Once they had all their parts, the first person to assemble the giant Oldenburg hamburger won!

  • Jen

    This is such an amazing idea, thanks for sharing!