I am always looking for a fun way to add some fine arts instruction into our homeschool. There just never seems to be enough time to study art history, famous painters, composers, etc. I have found that games are a fun way to add in those extras that never seem to get enough attention. In this review, I’ll be reviewing three different art history card decks, called Art Bits, covering painting, architecture, and sculpture.
Each game is suitable for ages 9 and up and should be played with three to five players. We tried to play the game with just two people, and it doesn’t work very well! Each game contains 17 pairs of prints depicting the most famous paintings, examples of architecture or sculptures, plus one “wild” card called the Art Man card. The enclosed instruction card explains one way to play the game, basically a variation of Old Maid. Players go around the table picking cards from others’ hands, hoping to make a match with a card already in their hand. The person left holding the Art Man card is the loser and the person with the most pairs on the table is the winner.
Pamphlets included with each game give concise information about each work of art on the cards. As players lay pairs down, the information about the art should be read aloud to all players so that they can learn a bit more about what they are seeing. The cards for the sculpture and paintings are color reprints of the works of art. The architecture cards contain black-and-white ink drawings. The card decks are contained in nice see-through plastic containers.
We enjoyed playing the game as suggested on the instruction card. We also came up with several other ways to play with the cards on our own, similar to Go Fish! and Concentration. Here is another idea I came up with (to be played after the above suggestions). Lay all of the cards face down on the table. Each player in turn turns the top card over and tells the others what he remembers about the work of art. If correct, he gets to keep the card; if not, it goes back to the bottom of the deck. The idea is that once the information about the various works of art has been read enough times, the players hopefully will have learned something and can then give a brief summary about the painting, sculpture, or architecture shown on the card.
I think it would be nice if other game ideas were included on the instruction card. The card decks’ suggested retail prices are $11.75 for Painting and Sculpture and $8.00 for the Architecture deck. Because each card set contains only 17 pairs of artwork, I think those prices are pretty reasonable for what you get. There is another art history card game that I know of that contains 36 works of art, and it retails for $25, although it does give the players a lot more information about the art shown.
All in all, I think these card decks could spark a child’s interest, inciting him to want to study more artwork by the various artists. The price is reasonable, too. It would be nice if the Architecture deck could be updated with actual pictures of the architecture (the black-and-white drawings are okay but seem a little dated). There are only these three sets currently available. It’s very convenient for me to have small games in my purse or car for doctor’s visits or other situations where the children have to wait a while. There’s nothing like being able to squeeze in the “extras” through a simple game that can be played anytime, anywhere!