I’m always looking for fun and engaging games to bring into my art room. I am a firm believer that art games can and should be used in the classroom. I think games are a great way to reinforce content and assess students on knowledge retention. Plus, they’re fun, and kids like playing games.
Let me start off by saying, I totally received this game courtesy of the inventor, Mollie Thonneson. I’m not in the least bit ashamed of this, because if people want to send me free stuff to try, then yes, sign me up! I mean, make it relevant. Don’t offer to send me graphing calculators in exchange for an honest product review, because that ain’t happening. Are graphing calculators still a thing? Mollie’s game, TAG the Art Game, on the other hand, totally relevant.
I use a few games in my art room, some with more success than others. Remember that time I allowed my students to draw adult content pictures and nearly got fired? Okay, so it didn’t quite go down like that, but I’ll tell you what, I haven’t played that game since.
When Mollie contacted me about trying out her game, I welcomed the opportunity. I’ve been meaning to bring another art game into my classroom, and I had some Free Choice Art Days coming up on my calendar, the timing was perfect.
What is TAG the Art Game?
From the website, “TAG is a collaborative art game where players take turns painting, drawing, and collaging while they create an original piece of abstract art. TAG is played with cards, dice, art supplies and a color wheel. Plays are made by following a series of card prompts. The game ends when a ‘finished?’ card is drawn and all players agree the artwork is done.”
What’s in the box?
Glad you asked, Brad (I’m not the only one, right?). I received the TAG the Art Game without supplies version of the game. The box included instructions, a color wheel spinner, a die, and game cards. More on those later. You can also purchase this game with supplies, but since I have plenty of supplies on hand, I opted to receive just the game.
How do you play?
I’m not going to bore you with my half-assed attempt of an explanation. Watch the video. Understand? Okay, yeah, I’m not gonna lie, it seems a little, cumbersome, but trust me, it’s not as complicated as it initially seems. I tried the game with 4th and 6th graders, and they picked it up fairly quickly.
How’d it go?
Really well. One student exclaimed, after a couple of turns had passed, “I have to get this game!” Overall, the students loved it, and said they would definitely play it again. From a curriculum point of view, I like that it meets some standards I have a difficult time covering in my classroom, including working collaboratively to make a piece of art and experimenting with materials. While the students and I enjoyed many aspects of the game, we did notice a few downsides.
The pros and cons
Obviously there was a problem with the speed of the game. I noticed that students were often sitting and waiting while others were taking their turn, and as any teacher knows, downtime is never a good thing. Students tried to speed the game along by rushing each other or telling each other what they should be doing. It did require some intervention on my part, which I prefer not to do. That being said, when I test ran the game with my 6th graders, we solved the problem by allowing students to take their turns simultaneously. We also reduced the wait time by limiting the number of players to 3-4.
While observing the students play, I noticed that they were confused about how the Location cards worked. I had to explain to them a few times how they were to be used. I expected the students to have difficulty allowing others to mark up their work, but that wasn’t the case. They seemed to enjoy overlapping the different elements.
I also expected the students to have difficulties being restricted to a limited color palette, but for the most part, they didn’t. I think some students actually need guidelines or boundaries and work more comfortably within them. We all enjoyed that you could use a variety of materials to play the game, which allowed students some choice in the materials they used. For example, they could choose watercolor paints or Tempera paints. Of course, this all depends on the materials you have on hand or that are provided with the game.
We all enjoyed this game, and the students who played it were eager to play again. The students who opted out of initially participating in the game were later bugging me for a chance to play. Ideally, I would have a few sets in my room so that more students can play at a time. In a classroom setting, with time really being an issue, I would recommend limiting the number of players to 3-4. Younger students might need more guidance or supervision. I actually want to take this home and try it out with my four year old to see what we can make (I think the recommend age is 7+, but whatev’).
If you’re interested in purchasing this game for your art room, or home, it’s available from the TAG the Art Game website, limited brick and mortar stores, and from (affiliate) Amazon, Tag the Art Game (art supplies NOT included).
What are your favorite games for the art room? Let me know in the comments!