Working as an artist can be a lonely existence. It’s difficult to gauge if things are really working when you’re isolated from your audience. The same can be true when teaching young children; it’s hard to tell if your lessons are being comprehended when your students have a limited capacity for expression. But occasionally something happens to make you realize that things really are sinking in and that you’ve made a difference in someone’s understanding of the world.
This week our class laid out board games. Based on a Halloween theme of a pumpkin patch, each student created a meandering path across a poster board, divided it into sections and filled it with four colors. We then decorated the board with pumpkins, gravestones and haunted houses. One child even made a pumpkin lake, a huge oval filled with pumpkins, which he thought was hilarious. Next week we’ll make four-sided dice to roll and create a set of playing pieces from Crayola model magic.
For our second class of “Let’s Make Games” we created a set of memory match cards. Each student received a set of 16 cards on which to make 8 pairs of images. I had printed a drawing of a pear with the words “Pick Pairs” onto one side of the cards, making them a little harder to see through. Using fruit as the theme I walked everyone through the steps of drawing graphical fruits, from apples and oranges through strawberries and lemons slices. The children then duplicated their images and everyone had a fun set of cards to play with. One child bragged about how well he could remember and proceeded to demonstrate with a quick game of pair picking.
The Girl Scouts has created a really cool interactive video that walks viewers though the creation of a video game, including the different job roles at a game design studio and the creative process in a work environment. The video outlines the design decisions and engineering work that go into game creation, all while allowing the viewer to choose different elements for their own custom game. It’s a great way for kids to get an idea of how creative studios function and how teams of people with different talents can work together to create a unique product.
For the past 6 Fridays I’ve been running an art and design program at HOLA Charter School in Hoboken. I taught a 3-week board game design class to grades k-3. I’ve written about the curriculum in April and last November. Each child received an 11″x 17″ piece of card stock with a pre-printed grid on it. The grids varied by grade; kindergarten drew on large squares while 3rd grade used small hexagons.
My game and mapping class is coming up in May at Hoboken HOLA and today I put together a sample game board to prep. One of my studio mates gave me a piece of photographic seamless paper so I figured I’d try enlarging the game board idea to full table size. I figure a 9’x4′ piece of paper will keep 8 kids occupied drawing mazes. They would each draw a home base and five game spaces. Each section would connect to the next, forming a large loop of about 40 spaces.