Art Dice

Art Dice from Tinkerlab

I’ve been saving these wooden cubes for the just the right project, and it recently occurred to me that they could be repurposed into Art Dice: a fun tool for creating some randomly generated art. Every flip of a dice becomes an opportunity to explore art vocabulary, drawing skills, color recognition, and shape identification, to name a few. If you have any spare blocks lying around, you might want to consider repurposing them into a new life as tool for art making!

For children older than mine and/or adults, these could be used to chase away writer’s or artist’s block: Simply roll the dice and draw or write about what pops up. Combine a few dice together and rise to the challenge of combining disparate ideas into a cohesive whole.

While this project comes a bit premature for my daughter, I made three dice based on the Elements of Art for us to play with: Shapes, Colors, and Lines. You could easily replace these themes with characters, places, textures, moods, architectural elements, etc.

We started with the line dice and I shared that after rolling the dice I would draw the line that randomly appeared on top . My daughter watching me do this for a few rounds of polka dots, spirals, and circles, but she didn’t make a move to jump in. Instead, she scribbled on my drawings, picked up her trusty scissors, cut the drawings into a handful of pieces, and collaged them into a picture. But this was wonderful — the dice sparked a game that led us in a new, fun direction!

She finally picked up the dice and kept rolling it until the circle showed up on top, which was what she REALLY wanted to draw all along, I suppose. And she proceeded to draw a page full of circles. Awesome!

Ideas for Game Rules:

  1. Each player has a piece of paper. Players take turns rolling the dice, and each player draws what they see after the dice roll. Decide how many times you’ll roll the dice before sharing your pictures with each other. Marvel at the similarities and differences between artworks.
  2. Players share one piece of paper. The player who rolls the dice draws their interpretation of the shape/line/color on the paper. They pass the dice to the other player who does the same. This continues for a set number of turns.
  3. Try either of the above games with more than one dice.
  4. Any other ideas? Please share!

If you like this idea, then you might also enjoy Keri Smith’s Dice walking game, as explored on The Artful Parent

Happily shared with ABC and 123 and Sun Scholars

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Rachelle,
    Very creative ideas you’ve suggested using these cubes.

    I am not sure if I am eligible for the giveaway (oh, how I wish I was!!), being here in India but I would like to share my ideas nevertheless :)

    1. I might use it for storytelling. The drawings on each side could trigger a new twist in the story as the cube passes from one kid to another.

    2. Another way to use for storytelling is to write names of famous characters (Robin Hood/Harry Potter/Lion King/Spider Man on each side and asking the child to make a story involving all the characters written on each side of the block.

    3. I might use it for stamping activity – by gluing yarn or foam cut into unique shapes.

    4. Use the dimensions to show and demonstrate layers of earth’s crust

  2. rachelle says

    Thanks for your ideas, Rashmie. You’re such a creative mama! If you win (and so far, the odds are in your favor!), I’d be happy to mail these off to you in India.

    • MaryAnn Kohl, art book author says

      I like pushing the blocks together into a unit with my chosen patterns showing. Do this on a tray, then flip them over and see what “secret” pattern was made.

      • Anonymous says

        It would be fun if the patterns were “relief” and you could do rubbings of each grouping. Maybe glue designs would dry thick and good for rubbings?

  3. says

    Oooo. I would have my older kids at the library help decide what shapes and colors to put on the cubes and decorate them (suitably supervised of course) then use them for my bi-monthly Messy Art Club. I usually have 10-20 kids ages 4 to 13 and we are all about art! It would be really cool to combine these with fingerpaint…or face paint! Roll the dice and then paint what you see on your friend’s face…

    • rachelle says

      Yes! Get the kids involved! I bet your Messy Art Club is a lot of fun. That’s quite an age span — I’m curious to know more about how you plan for that?!

      • says

        I just started it in January – I’m picking more mediums than actual projects for this, so kids can refine it to their skill levels. So far this year we’ve done a project using Rosamel’s Drawing with your hands, fingerprint art ala Ed Emberley, and fingerpaint. We meet every other week, alternating with Lego Building Club. I have another arts and crafts after school club called Make it and Take it and I do enforce an age limit of 6 and up for that group, to make sure all the kids can do the projects. You can see our past, current, and future projects here! http://sites.google.com/site/mmlcrafts/ I tried a sewing club last year, but it was too hard for the younger kids. I’m learning as I go!

  4. says

    I would totally cover these in chalkboard paint so my indecisive self never had to commit to any one set of options LOL!

    Rashmie — love the yarn stamping idea, this is why I love to read everyones comments!

    Love this idea Rachelle!

    • rachelle says

      Chalkboard paint! Brilliant! The comments are fabulous, your included, and I always come away from my blog posts with more ideas than what I started with. So much fun :)

  5. says

    So many wonderful ideas so far! I’m not sure what I would do. Maybe paint them and then write words on them that my kids would have to do after rolling the dice. Maybe I would cut out foam shapes and use them as stamps. I don’t know. The possibilities are endless.

    Thanks for the giveaway and I love how your dice turned out Rachelle!

    • rachelle says

      Thanks Jill! I’m a huge fan of your site, and so happy to see you here. It’s almost as if foam stamps were made for these little blocks.

  6. says

    What a wonderful project! I love the idea of using them for storytelling. Drawing shapes and images on them that could provoke an impromptu story! I think I would use them for when my kids need some inspiration to get moving. We love to dance, so it would be fun to draw or write words that relate to different dance moves. One dice could have body part: arms, legs, feet, hands, etc and the other dice could have a movement: shake, shimmy, bounce, back-and-forth. You roll the dice and you move the body part the way the movement dice says to. Oh, I could see so many possibilities. Thanks for the ideas!

    • rachelle says

      I know, there are so many possibilities! But dancing?! I hadn’t thought of that, and your comment actually inspired a very fun afternoon of hip hop and yoga in my living room. Thank you for that :)

  7. kim says

    I really love these ideas! I was thinking that we could tape pictures of shapes and colors to the blocks, roll and have a scavenger hunt, looking for objects the color and shape that we rolled. If I don’t win, I’m going to find a way to make these ideas work for me, anyway. What a creative bunch of ladies!:)

    • rachelle says

      Nice! A scavenger hunt would be so much fun. I’m simply amazed by all of the creative ideas that everyone has. Maybe there’s a book idea in this project…

  8. Melisa Jaenisch says

    My kids are really into letters right now so I would put a letter on each side on the dice and have them think of a word that begins with the letter they rolled…btw I live in Heidelberg, Germany, I saw you were willing to send the dice to India so I am hoping you might consider sending them to Germany as well ; ) Of course I would understand if it is not possible.

    • rachelle says

      What a fun way to practice spelling. I can’t believe my blog has amazing readers in Germany and India — and it delights me to no end. Not to worry, this is open to ALL of my fans!

  9. says

    That is a so cool idea, as are all yours !!! I would really use it for drawing. But I think, that it can also be use in some king of bingo (is it a game in the states ?, in Quebec, Canada yes). I think of my boy and I could use it to make him do different moves inspired by the shapes and the lines.

  10. says

    we love art and storytelling in our household. while putting my girls to bed, my daughter likes me to tell her what to dream about and every morning when she wakes up she excitedly tells me, “guess what mommy, i dreamed about…” (and tells me a story involving the ideas mentioned before she drifts off to dreamland… so, i just thought to put a small picture or sticker of various people/characters, everyday objects, animals. Roll the dice just before bed to reveal what to dream about…

    • rachelle says

      Hi Katie, You are so creative! I never would have thought of using these for bedtime. As we’ve been dealing with nightmares, you’ve given me some new thoughts about planting good dream ideas in my daughter’s mind before bedtime. I love that.

  11. Claudette Lindquist says

    I teach a mixed age preschool class in a college lab school. I would use the the dice as a collaborative game and art project. Using wax crayons, the children would recreate the shape they roll on a piece of watercolor paper. When done, they would pass the dice and paper to the next child, and so on until all have a turn (for this age, 4-5 children max at a time). Once all have drawn on the paper, the children would have the opportunity to cover the paper with their choice of watercolors. This exercise allows for practice in turn taking, valuing others contributions, the joy of anticipation, and the joy of discovery as the water colors reveal a whole new version of the drawings.

    • rachelle says

      Hi Claudette, This would be so much fun, and what a great lesson as you’ve described! My daughter is not quite 3, but she loves making collaborative art. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  12. says

    Wow – as a former art teacher, I am in awe of this idea! Love, love, LOVE it!!! I wish I would have had these for my former classroom. But I would also LOVE them for my little ones. I could see it being fun for all ages. And something I could have fun doing with them. Inspiring my own art! Thanks so much for the inspiration. And the chance to win. ;)

    Happy to be a new follower!

    • rachelle says

      Hi Krissy! I’m so glad you found my blog. It’s nice to know that this idea is inspiring to both as both a parent and an art teacher. I actually wish I had thought this one up when I was working as a teacher myself :)

  13. says

    How fabulous!!! I think I have some blank cubes somewhere but can’t find them. I was thinking of using them to make a therapeutic form of yahtzee to use in play therapy with some of the high risk low income children I counsel. But your idea of art cubes sounds like fun! Sometimes even the therapist needs art therapy! Love the idea and would love to win a set of art cubes by you! What a fun way to put play into art and art into play!

  14. says

    Hi Rachel, this is a GREAT idea!
    I work in Encaustic and we have a myriad of techniques to chose from. I would write them on the cubes and incorporate the technique that comes up in my next piece. Doing that multiple times perhaps.
    It would also be great for my students, who are sometimes stuck for “the next step”!
    Thanks so much for sharing.

  15. says

    Wow – what an amazingly creative idea!!! My kids would LOVE to play with these (and so would I). I love your idea of having players share one piece of paper – what a great way to teach cooperation.

  16. says

    Thanks for sharing this at For the Kids Friday at SunScholars! I will be posting the next party tonight. I hope to have you linking up again this week!

    :)rachel @ SunScholars.blogspot.com

  17. says

    I had my Hubby make some small blocks about the size of dice. We are really enjoying them. Thank you for the great idea!

  18. Julie says

    I am an elementary school art teacher and I love your idea about the art dice. I think they would make a great learning tool in my classroom. Where do you get the plain wood blocks? Do you make them?

  19. Acacia Moore says

    Do you mind if I include this game in a piece I’m writing for the Natural Parents Network about creativity and art beyond preschool?

    • rachelle says

      Hi Acacia! That would be fabulous! As long as you give me credit and link back I would love it. if it’s more than a mention, please drop me an email.

  20. says

    I am an occupational therapist and have SOOOO many small wooden blocks. I work with a lot of children on prewriting/coloring activities and could use the blocks in many ways. One idea that came to mind would be to play a game with two blocks (one with lines, shapes ) and the other the colors. The children would roll the blocks/dice and draw the shape with the color that they rolled and continue to add to their color/shape picture!! Great idea….thanks

  21. Katherine Donaldson says

    I think it might be fun to roll all the dice to start with, then roll them one at a time, choosing which element to change.  Fun idea!

  22. says

    I’m going to have to try making some of these for my at-home toddlers… maybe make an outdoor active-activity game out of them (jump, run, swing, etc… or something).  Off to find a hard-ware store!

    • Rachelle says

      Thank you so very much, Kristen! Don’t expect you to notice everything I do (but I do appreciate that you try!). xo

  23. says

    The dice idea immediately made me think of story generation like I’ve done with cards in the past. I’ve also used large soft dice with plastic sleeves on each side so I could easily change the pictures inside to make stories with my preschoolers. I would use one dice to select a location and another to select a character. Sometimes I’d have a third random objects. The kids then had to make a very simple story using what they rolled.

    • Rachelle says

      Great suggestions, Monique! Where do you find large dice with clear plastic sleeves? That sounds like a great purchase.

  24. sarah p says

    I love this idea! Absolutely fabulous. I would love to use these with my 2 and 4-year-old. They love to draw so I think they’d love to use these for drawing and art projects. I think they might be good for kiddy charades (“act like a squiggly!”).

    • Rachelle says

      Thanks so much, Sarah. It would be fun to see kids physically interpret shapes and lines…great idea!!!

  25. Sheila Mcdermid says

    I was so excited to see this post.  I work in a play-based (inquiry based) Early Learning Kindergarten and I think this idea would be a creative way for children to work on their skills while enjoying the fun of rolling the dice.  I can imagine the wonderful discussions and works of art that will happen in the Art Studio.  I would love a set of these in my class.  Thanks for posting and keep on sharing your ideas!!  :)

  26. says

    These dice would be great not only to create unique individual art in my K-5 art classroom but also generate fabulous discussion about the elements of art.  Think of the vocabulary development that can come from students discussing each other’s art work!
    Students could try to guess what other students had rolled to create their art and see how different interpretations of the same “roll of the die” look in the unique works of art.
    I also think that using dice would be an excellent way to understand the concept of “motif”.

  27. Jennifer Brees says

    I’ve been wanting to add more art and creative projects to my school day. I can use these cubes as is but I’m also going to make a set for writing, for oral presentations, and for math problems. Oh, the possibilities are endless!

  28. says

    These are amazing!  I’ve been looking for more ways to “play” with shapes and colors to help my 2yo learn and this sounds perfect!  Thank you for the wonderful idea! Now to find some wooden blocks . . .

    • Rachelle says

      I’m so glad to hear that these have inspired you, Victoria! You could have 1″ x 1″ wood cut to size at a lumber yard, search for used blocks at a second hand shop, or order unfinished blocks from a company like this: http://www.craftparts.com/blocks-squares-wooden-blocks-cubes-wooden-c-209_212.html

  29. Teresa Henson says

    What a great idea for initial art therapy sessions! I can see this working to help establish comfort and connection between a client and the therapist. I think I need to go find some blocks this weekend! Another fun bonding art game? Scribble chase. Kids love it! It’s basically tag with markers. Each person gets a color and “chases” each other on the paper, once the person that is “it” tags the other person, they become the chaser instead of the runner. It makes great abstract art! The other fun part about it is letting the child title the art (if the mood strikes).

    • rachelle says

      Hi Teresa! Scribble Chase? I’ve never heard of this, but I LOVE it. I can’t wait to try this later today. Also, I’m so interested to hear how you could use this in an art therapy session. This is a world I know very little about, but I can imagine how this could build trust between client and therapist.

  30. Treasure says

    Hey, hey, hey ! I bought my blocks, decorated them and we will try them in art class next week! The kids K-6 will be thrilled! I am always on the lookout for art games and this is awesome. Thank you!