For the past 3 years I have started the school year by hosting a TASK Party in each of my classes. My students LOVE it! Every single one of them. Every single time. It is playful, fun, and creative. It gets kids up and moving and making! Which is exactly what I want on my first day back!
A TASK party is a simple concept. Participants select a task randomly out of a box and then they complete the task. Tasks are designed to promote creative thinking so they are not straight forward. The TASK Party originates from Oliver Herring. You can watch this video of his to find out more.
TASK Parties can involve a fair amount of materials consumed so I always use a large selection of recyclables. About a week before the party, I put an email out to my staff to drop off any recyclables to the art room. I always have enough to go around. I've come to realize that students don't need any fancy materials for the TASK Party, whatever you can gather up will be enough for them. In addition I allow students access to paper scraps, markers, colored pencils, scissors, and yarn. When I've allowed tape in the past, they have grossly over used it and I haven't gotten my order in yet so this year I set up one hot glue gun. It worked out just fine! This is how I ended up organizing my recycled materials for class:
The list below are my basic expectations that I go over with the students before we begin. TASK Parties are energetic and can get a little chaotic with a lot of students moving around but the kids are always SO engaged that it has never been a problem for me.
Picking & Making Tasks:
The best rule that I developed was the "Put back once" rule. Meaning any time you pick a task you are allowed to put the task back ONCE and pick another one if you choose. This works so well. It gives the student a chance to change tasks if they really hate the one they pick but it avoids the situation of a student picking tasks endlessly.
Making tasks is something I allow on a class by class basis. It is a traditional part of the task party to have participants make the tasks that others will pick. However, I found that Middle School kids tend to make tasks that are boy/girl related or designed to embarrass others, which take away from the atmosphere of the party. My classes range from 12-18 students and the amount of tasks that I have prepared are more then enough to keep them busy for an 80 minute time period.
Previously I've had them put the tasks in a separate box when they are finished but this year they placed them back in the same box and it worked out great. (If they picked a task they already completed, they just picked again).
That's really all there is to it! I let students know that when they finish a task they can choose to keep what they have made or take it back apart and put it back in the materials. Some artists go through many tasks in the part and others spend the entire time on one task. Don't try and control it, as long as they are creating I'm happy. For me, the TASK parties are about CREATING without fear and having FUN! Below are some of the creations from the TASK Parties this year.
The writings and happenings of What's Going On In The Art Room, written by Ms. Alisa Blundon in Istanbul, Turkey
Guiding Students to Independence through the Artistic Thinking Process
Class Art Kits | Student Responsibility of Supples
Inspiration Around the Room
Draw Around the Room