A New Twist on “Memory” Makes the Perfect Art Room Center

Art Room Centers

I love going to lunch with my fellow teachers. In my world, you can’t go wrong with a pizza, Dr. Pepper, and friends surrounding you. This was the scene right before I started my second year of teaching. I had conquered my first year teaching jitters and felt confident to embrace a new school year… that is, until I received my class schedule.

During my first year, I had established a groove with all my half-day kindergarten classes. A thirty minute class period was long enough to accomplish my goals and short enough to hold their attention. Imagine my surprise when my new schedule stared up at me and proclaimed “full day kindergarten”. Clearly, the first challenge of the year was not only teaching a mixture of half and full-day kindergarteners, but also trying to figure out what I was going to do with the 24 little faces that had an extra thirty minutes with me each week.

My teacher-brain started working up a plan to keep my full-day classes in sync with my half-day classes. I decided that the first thirty minutes would mirror what half-day kindergarteners accomplished. The last thirty minutes would be used for activities which included a variety of art-related centers and occasionally the use of sketchbooks. Once the school year started, it became clear that the plan was working. During centers there are rotating activities happening at each table. These centers range from building to drawing, from magnets to jewelry-making and more. One of my most successful centers ended up being a game called, “Color Match.” I made it up after spending way too many hours perusing the color swatch aisle at the local paint store.

If you’re also facing the challenge of keeping young students engaged, then you might want to make a set of “Color Match” cards for your room!


Making “Color Match”

In order to create this activity you need a stack of different paint swatches, clothespins, a hot glue gun, scissors, construction paper, and a laminator. First, you need to cut the paint name off of the swatches and hot glue them to clothespins. Take the remainder of the swatches and tape them to slightly bigger pieces of construction paper. Once the swatches are taped down, run them through the laminator to protect them. Store the clothespins in a opaque bag.




Playing “Color Match”

Find a bag that will hold all the clothespins. Turn all the laminated color swatches upside-down and place them in rows and columns. Each student will take a turn by pulling one clothespin out of the bag (no peeking!). The same student flips one of the swatches over to reveal a color.



If the clothespin color matches the swatch colo,r the students will clip them together and keep them. If not, the clothespin returns to the bag, the swatch gets turned upside-down, and the next student takes a turn. At the end of center time the student with the most matches wins! This game not only immerses students into the world of colors, but it also helps strengthen their memory skills and communication skills with their peers. Plus, they think it is fun!

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How do you handle tricky scheduling issues? Have you ever had a similar situation with full and half-day kindergarten? What did you do? 

Do you have any made-up games to share? 


Jennifer Borel

Jennifer is an middle school art teacher in Kansas who is passionate about creating an organized, well-managed environment where students feel comfortable to learn and explore.


  • Yay, Jennifer! It’s great to have you on the AOE Team. Welcome!!!

  • Alecia Eggers

    Love this idea!! I want to make a set now! :)

  • Kathy Olson

    Keep the ideas coming! All 3 of my kinder classes will be an hour long, and usually without the teacher in the room with me. Yikes! Centers for the last 1/23 hour, perfect!

    • I have plenty more center ideas where this came from! Stay tuned!

      • Teresa

        Just curious how many students would be best to play the game and how many color swatches should be made?

        • Usually I have four students play at a time. My game has about 20 color swatches. But if you are planning to use it for older grades they can probably handle a few more!

  • Virginia

    I take art posters that I have more than one of and turn them into jigsaw puzzles. I mark each piece of the puzzle with a colored symbol so when they put the puzzle back in the bag it is not mixed up with another puzzle. These puzzles are very popular. For the older grades, I tell them to draw the artwork they have assembled in their sketchbook and write the name of the painting and the name of the artist under their sketch.

    • Oh my goodness that is a fabulous idea! I always wondered what I could do with the posters I have extras of. I think the students would really enjoy this!

    • I love this idea too. So smart!

  • Susan

    Great Idea!

  • Stacey

    I play a “Lost” picture game. This is a great way to introduce art history to my students, and the information really sticks even though I only see them once a week. This is what I do…last year I chose Georgia O’Keeffe, I had a large picture of “Red Poppy” on the wall and it said LOST next to it, at the end of class when it is time to clean up…and they have their area cleaned up, they can look for a much smaller version of the picture (only about 1-2 inches big). If they find it, they just go back to their seat and right towards the end of class I will ask if anyone found the Lost Picture, they are to then describe with words where it is, they are 1st in line!! I then ask who the artist is? They are 2nd in line. I then ask the title? 3rd in line, and with O’Keeffe, I asked where the artists was born since we live in Wisconsin. My Elementary and even Middle school age students love this, with Middle school I actually do it at the beginning of class to keep them busy while I enter attendance and with MS, if they find it 5 times, they can earn a FREE sketchbook assignment. In years past, I also did Claes Oldenburg’s “Spoonbridge and Cherry” but I made a mini sculpture with a white plastic spoon and fake cherry that I would hid around the art room. My students remember this information year after year, so I can even ask them artist/title information 3 years later and they remember it. I keep the same artist up all year and it usually ties into our school theme, one year we had a superhero theme, so I used a Lichtenstein since they look like comic books, or last year was a bug theme, so I went with an O’Keeffe flower, etc. The first day I see my students we go over the information about the artist and review the rules of the game. Their are certain area where the Lost picture will not be, such as my storage rooms, or behind my desk…everywhere else in the room is fair game. The picture is always visible by walking around the room, so they will never have to open my cabinets to find it. I can’t wait to use the Color Match game to my classroom!!!

    • Wow! Thanks for taking the time to describe your game. It was such a cool idea. Totally something that my elementary kiddos would love. I love how it instills that art history knowledge into them as well. Keep up the great work!

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