Sunday, June 10, 2012

Using Token Response in Kindergarten

"Compositon-- The Baltimore Museum of Art" Jackson Pollock

One of my state standards includes students to "view artwork in a museum setting"--and sometimes this is not always feasible. At the end of the school year I will lay prints of artwork (some they may recognize, others they may not) around my classroom. Students are given six different "token response" cards to doll out among the prints they see.

If you've never used token response with your students, I highly encourage it as a way for students to think clearly about a response they might have toward something. In my case, it's a way for them to show what they like or don't like about an artwork. In other cases it could be used for inventions, writings, children's books, etc. More and more I am seeing that students cannot express their feelings toward something, and I'm tired of hearing "I like it because it's pretty".

"The Sunflower Quilting Bees at Arles", Faith Ringgold

Token response goes beyond the "I like it because it's pretty" answer. Students are holding (in my case) six different cards that I have made and laminated. The tokens represent personal preference, ecoonomic considerations, time expenditure, preference of others, originality, craftsmanship, judgement, and dislike.:

  • "Most finely crafted"with a handprint

  • "Took the most time"with a clock

  • "We learned about this artist in school" with a schoolhouse icon

  • "I don't like this one" with an anti-sign on it

  • "First Prize" with a blue ribbon

  • "I like this one the best" with a heart

"The Dugout", Norman Rockwell, 1948

The game is really a discussion tool, as after the students make choices, you lead them in a discussion about their choices and the reasons why they made them. They discuss ideas about the value of art, originality, beauty, etc. It is also fun to examine patterns that occur, such as if many students choose one artwork as the one they like the best, but another for which they think shows the most craftsmanship. You can ask them why similarities and differences of opinion ocurr. Oftentimes the juxtapositions between like and dislike toward one piece of artwork engages a great Kindergarten discussion!

"The Virgin Forest", Henri Rousseau

Joanna Davis-Lanum is a National Board Certified Art Teacher and teaches Art grades K-5 at Garden Elementary School in Venice, Florida. While she is excited that school is out for summer, she is busy dreaming up positive and colorful projects already for her students in August! She is the author of her blog "We Heart Art" and blogs about her lessons there.


  1. What a great idea, Joanna! It was fascinating to see your students' responses to the pictured art pieces. I pinned your post to my Kids' Art Appreciation Pinterest board at

    1. thanks, deb! the differences between why they "liked" and "didn't like" were interesting conversations! thanks for the pin :)


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