99% of my lessons have been production based so far. I think this is because I am such a hands-on and kinesthetic person. But, in order to have a well-rounded art education, it is important to include aspects of art criticism and art history. I wanted to play “Token Response” with 5th graders so I could incorporate more aspects of art and practice critical thinking with them. This is a game I played in a college class and it lead to a truly meaningful discussion about art that really got everyone to think about their opinions.
I set out 7 reproductions around the room and we talked about the title, medium, artist, and when the piece was made. We talked about opinions and how there is no right or wrong answer and it is important to respect what someone else thinks about something. I told the kids that when you look at artwork you automatically think “I like it” or “I don’t like it” but it is important to realize why you feel this way.
Each student received a set of tokens (you can buy a pre-made set here but it was just as easy to make my own using construction paper):
So what do they mean?
The HAND: which artwork has the best craftsmanship?
The LIGHT BULB: which artwork is the most original/unique?
The HEART: which artwork do you like the best?
The “X”: which artwork do you like the least?
The MONEY: which artwork is worth the most money?
The CLOCK: which artwork took the most time to make?
The HOUSE: which artwork would people hang up in their house?
With a variety of reproductions including examples of realism, formalism, expressionism, and instrumentalism, there were many diverse opinions. Students walked around the gallery and placed their tokens on the artworks.
The most popular pieces were sculptures and the least popular were the realistic or abstract pieces. Students expressed their opinions and shared with each other why they chose to put their tokens where they did.
This activity was just as meaningful for 5th graders as it was for me in college — they got a chance to form and argue their opinions, interpret art, compare and contrast artworks, and develop and evaluate ideas.