With my first and second graders last year I played the game "Yes,
No, Maybe So." I placed 5 objects (a flashlight, a plastic cup, a
gimme cap, a framed drawing, and a ceramic vase) at the front of the
room. Each student was given a handout with a drawing of each of the
objects and a blank beside each object for the student to respond
with a Y, N, or M. Before discussion of each object, each student
would report their decision, and I would chart it on the board.
As rules, we decided that a student could change his or her mind at
any time depending on how the discussion went (which didn't happen
often). Everyone had to have a reason for the decision they made.
No one could be rude to another person.
I also linked to their science lessons because they had been
discussing and learning about "critical attributes" in science. We
discussed what might be critical attributes for an artwork. We made
a list on the board. They tried to apply these to the five objects
at the front of the room. Sometimes we had to alter our list of
critical attributes. For example,
"the plastic cup is art because it is green, and we said art has to
" maybe art has to have more than color to be art"
Teacher " what could that extra thing be that makes it become art?
Can you compare it to something that you are pretty sure is art and
see if there are differences?"
There were great discussions during this lesson and often the
discussion would carry over into the next class. First and second
graders are definitely capable of carrying on discussion of this
type. And they enjoy it. In one of the second grade classes the
teacher was graphing favorite art lessons, and one-third of her class
chose "yes, no, maybe so" as their favorite activity.