Updated 9/17/02.

Sample Activity

The ArtSpaceMuseum

Art museums provide the environment for a wealth of experiences for children of all ages. Through the use of the software ArtSpace, children who are unable to walk through a museum can explore art from their computer. ArtSpace is a series of places where art can be viewed (in a museum with many galleries) or where art is made (in studios). ArtSpace provides a field trip simulation without the bus travel, the frantic search for a restroom or the never-ending walk through the long corridors. ArtSpace can be used for preliminary museum experiences prior to an actual field trip to a museum or to prepare children and staff for what they are likely to experience. ArtSpace can also be used as a follow-up activity after the field trip.

Categories for ArtSpace images include: Collage, Lines, Music, Pottery, Sculpture, People, Cultural Diversity, Native American, Farms, Food, Transportation, Animals, Birds, Flowers and Plants, Trees and Forests, Water, and Weather and Seasons. The following activity is adapted from A Curriculum to Accompany ArtSpace (Hutinger, Betz, & Cunningham, 1996).

Teacher's Role
Display reproductions of adult artists and children's work in the computer area and other areas around the classroom. Before the activity, attach neccessary peripherals to the computer, if needed. These could be a switch, a TouchWindow, a Discover:Kenx, or IntelliKeys. Children can also interact with ArtSpace using the mouse. Position the monitor at the child's eye level and move the keyboard aside to prevent distractions. Preview ArtSpace prior to the activity to become familiar with the options. Open ArtSpace, select appropriate option under "Preferences," and have the screen ready for children to use.

When participating in this activity, children will,
  • discover that their actions cause certain events to happen;
  • learn that their actions with the peripherals cause the actions on the monitor;
  • attend to the task at hand;
  • observe the images and actions, hear the music and sounds, and figure out that their actions control the actions on the screen;
  • increase their attention span while actively exploring the museum;
  • collect information about the different functions of museums in the galleries and the Studio of ArtSpace;
  • examine the features of ArtSpace;
  • propose explanations, such as "If I press the switch on the art work, it will get larger, play music, and sometimes show a movie."
  • take turns making choices while activating the program;
  • use the knowledge gained from this experience when looking at other art work;
  • use the sequencing skills learned through ArtSpace in other learning situations;
  • develop increased knowledge of patterns and symbols.
  • Appropriate peripherals: a switch, a TouchWindow, Discover:Kenx, Key Largo, or IntelliKeys.
  • Materials needed
  • Macintosh computer, system 7.x., 4000K of free RAM memory
  • CD-ROM Drive
  • 14" color monitor or larger
  • ArtSpace
Encourage children to make selections by activating the mouse or peripheral device. Model activating and making choices. Physically assist children to do the same if necessary. Children can choose one of two galleries, "The Adult Gallery" or "The Children's Gallery." In "The Adult Gallery," they will see works of art made by adults, some of them famous, some whose importance to the art world is yet to be recognized. "The Children's Gallery" contains art work from preschool and elementary school children. Both galleries contain examples of two- and three-dimensional art works. See video of various artists discussing their work or explaining a process, such as an adult explaining print making or bronze pouring, or children demonstrating finger painting or collage making. Listen to people's comments about each picture, sculpture, or image and use them to generate discussions with children. Ask questions such as, What do you see in this painting? What did the artist say about the drawing? Where would you like to go now? Children can choose to go to another gallery room, go back to the lobby for more choices, or to exit the program. Encourage children to take turns when selecting images by passing the switch around the group.

ArtSpace can be adapted for many peripheral devices that allow children access to interacting with the software. For more information on peripherals, see Chapter 9.

  • Using a TouchWindow provides a natural and direct way to interact with ArtSpace. Place the TouchWindow over the monitor with Velcro. Children can position the cursor, make selections, and make choices with the touch of their fingertip or the stylus.
  • Switches with a switch interface allow one or more children to activate ArtSpace.
  • Discover:Kenx is an interface that allows children to use alterate keyboards, such as Key Largo, or switches. It combines Ke:nx technology with the switch.
  • Key Largo is an expanded alternative keyboard for use with Ke:nx or the Adaptive Firmware Card. Expanded keyboards are for children who need larger key areas. Larger letters, pictures, or selection areas are possible. The keyboard is composed of small squares that can be grouped into keys of any size to meet individual needs.
  • IntelliKeys is an alternative keyboard that can be used with overlays for easy access to ArtSpace.
  • Children can explore how scanning works. Select Scanning as input under "Preferences." Children can become familiar with the progression of the scanning pattern and how objects are highlighted. Once children understand scanning, this option gives them more control as they tour the museum. ArtSpace can also be customized for use with Key Largo.

Related Activities

  • Select any of the seventeen categories in the software, such as "Lines," "Sculpture," Animals," or "Water," and design both computer and off-computer activities around that theme.
  • Create an Art Gallery in the classroom. Display and label children's art work in the classroom. Feature a child as the "artist" of the week.
  • Schedule a field trip to an art gallery. After the field trip encourage children to talk about what they saw. Encourage discussions and comparisons of their "real" museum tour and both the adult and children's galleries in ArtSpace. Talk about the people they saw at the museum.
  • Make a classroom museum. If space permits, connect several large cartons or movable screens to make a child-size art museum for dramatic play. Include the people seen in a museum (other visitors, security people, tour guides, shop keeper, the director, a curator, and others). Make the museum space accessible to children in wheelchairs. Decide what to put into the museum for its opening. Children may decide to include original child art, printouts from "The Studio," art posters from museums, three-dimensional work, or other objects.
  • Develop the concept of "collecting" and what might be included in a collection. Arrange collections on an "exhibit" table. Objects in the collection might be groups of block sculpture, clay images, materials to make marks with, books, sea shells, plants, toy trucks, dolls, or any number of groupings that interest children. This may lead to interest in categories, groups, and attributes. Children may want to establish their own "collection" of art or the art work of others in a book. Collections of images from ArtSpace can also be discussed. Search for the collections shown in the "Categories," then identify reasons why they were included. Other kinds of collections may also be displayed, including objects from nature walks.
  • Provide props in the dramatic play area so children can play at taking on the various roles of people who are found at an art museum. Some props might include blocks and toy people, and a small table with "gift shop" items. The art area can be used to make posters and brochures of the latest exhibit. ArtSpace is contains Trevor, the gallery guide, two people who are viewing the images, artists, and children making art. A number of people oversee the day-to-day operation of a museum: the director, the curators (or keepers), the educators or tour guides, security officers, people who work in the cafeteria or restaurant, people who sell things in the bookstore or shop, conservators (who take care of the objects), publicity and publication staff, and the registrar. It takes a lot of people, each doing their own job, to run a museum. Visitors are also important to a museum. Without them, where would a museum be?
  • Although ArtSpace does not include a museum shop, children who have visited a museum may decide to set up a shop in a part of their museum or in another part of the classroom. Dramatic play might include deciding on appropriate merchandise, "selling" works of art, using pretend money, cash registers, making change, deciding on prices, stocking shelves, and planning appealing displays. In real life, class products such as tee-shirts (with iron-on designs made with a computer and printer or painted on designs with washable paint) might be "sold" in the shop.
  • Museums often have special opening parties for a new exhibit. When children finish their museum, or mount a new exhibit, have a real opening, inviting families, or another class of children, or have a pretend opening for class members only. An opening is a good time to explain the importance of art to families. Decide on special music or any special effects you may be able to secure for the opening. Children can take the role of docents, taking guests on a tour of the museum exhibit. Incorporate snack into the opening party. Children might dress in fancy costumes from the playhouse for the opening. Encourage "opening parties" during free choice time. After a real opening, children may want to relive it with a "pretend" opening. With the teacher recalling the event, the whole group can participate. Each child can add to the activity by acting out the sequence of events of the opening.
  • Create a book of museum images for the library corner. Print images from "The Studio" or the "Children's Gallery" in various sizes and laminate them. Use double sets for matching games, or for more complicated games. The images can also be put together into a class book of favorites, or into books for individual children, depending upon interest. Scan children's art and print it out to make an art book. Make a group book of art that children create in the classroom for use on the library table. The books may be group efforts or books made by individual children. Include commercial books about art and artists in the library corner too.
  • Collect other museum software on CD-ROM such as With Open Eyes from the Art Institute of Chicago or look what i see from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The software can be used in conjunction with ArtSpace, providing further information about art and extending the number of images viewed by children and adults.
  • Visit an artist's studio or invite artists to come into the classroom to share their work and ideas. If the artists are members of the children's extended family, that's even better. Ask the artists to demonstrate a short process. For example, if the artist is a potter, ask him or her to make a coil pot with clay. Prepare the artists ahead of time, requesting that they simplify the processes they show, without talking down to the children. Answer any questions the artists may have about the visit. Children prefer doing to watching others do; if possible extend or follow up (on another day) the artist's visit with an activity related to the demonstration. If the activity or project takes several days, invite the artist back to see children's finished work.