"Jager, Mary" wrote:
> I am giving a workshop on art methods to a group of elementary classroom
> teachers and I was wondering if anyone had a new or unique ice breaker that
> I could use that would be fun?
I've done this with my HS and art education students. It drives home
the concept of their CONCEPTION of an object (what they think something
looks like) and their PERCEPTION (what they actually observe). I've
pasted a handout that I wrote up a while back below.
THE H.A.T. (Horse Awareness Test)
This is a great first-day-of-school icebreaker (usually takes two
periods). It's fun, teaches them about contours and proportions, and
helps demonstrate the importance of observation when learning to draw.
This is an adaption of a "test" developed by one of my graduate
professors, Warren Anderson. His was called the S.A.T. (Saguaro
Awareness Test). Since we have no saguaros but plenty of horses around
here, I adapted it to something the students are very familiar with.
You'll have to do the same (their sneakers? a local landmark? a school
bus?). Prepare slides showing various aspects of the object, or a good
transparency from a clear photograph. Work from a photograph, not
another artist's rendition.
Give each student a piece of paper and ask them to draw, to the best of
their ability, the subject you've chosen. The entire object should be
shown (i.e., the horse can't be standing in tall grass or deep water)
and should fill as much of the paper as possible. Give them 20-30
minutes for this.
When time's up, they should put down their pencils while you show them
the slides and point out specific characteristics of the object. I
introduce the terms conception and perception: oftentimes, our concept
of what an object looks like does not correspond to what it actually
looks like. Drawing is largely a matter of learning how to really
observe what is there. If the actual object is not available, they
should work from photographs. Other artists' work may be stylized or
I show them how to use their pencils to measure (like "real artists"),
estimate proportions, and gauge curves and angles compared to the
straight pencils. They measure the proportions of their own
drawings--no erasing and correcting!--as well. The visual analysis
takes another 20-30 minutes.
They then turn their papers over and re-draw the object; this time, the
transparency remains projected so they can observe the horse and measure
the proportions and contours. This requires quite a bit more time than
the first drawing. The difference between the two drawings is usually
pretty dramatic. I always save the drawings to hand back at the end of
the year, which gives them a good laugh at what amateurish artists they
used to be.