Combining visual art and computational thinking. Successful activities for primary school students.

Examples of activities for primary schools that combine visual art and computational thinking
Mariona Niell Colom
Eduard Muntaner Perich
Marta Peracaula Bosch
Jordi Freixenet

In this work we present successful examples of activities for primary schools which combine visual art and computational thinking. Our proposals have been inspired on the guidelines proposed by the MIT LLK group, “CREATIVE COMPUTING a design-based introduction to computational thinking”. This reference document described 20 sessions of 1 hour each, covering topics such arts, games and stories, as a way for students to explore different genres of creative expression and form, while developing familiarity and fluency with computational concepts and practices. From this starting point, we modified and extended some of the sessions to include visual art activities (new sessions last approximately 3 hours). For example, there is one session referred as “about me”, where students create an interactive project with Scratch with the goal of presenting themselves. We complemented this session by experimenting with self-portraits. Mainly, we take full profit of this session to let students think about themselves, by using different ways of expression such as writing, scratching and drawing while practicing observation and learning by doing. We provide within this activity mirrors, brushes, pencils, and colours that are used by students to create different self-portraits while practicing with several creative learning steps: to create, to share, to communicate, to expose, to interact, to cooperate, to reflect thoughts, to learn from others, etc... We also complemented with art activities the session “build a band” and we work with storyboards the sessions dedicated to create “games”. We have applied these new activities with 3 different primary schools in Catalonia, involving approximately eighty students. Our experience has been very satisfactory and we firmly believe that these sessions fit perfectly the Catalan curriculum of primary education in the artistic education area.