On Teaching Fashion: Fun and Games

Fun?  In the classroom?  Why not?  There’s no reason for the two to be mutually exclusive, even in college.  This week, I’m sharing with you some games I devised to allow my Fashion History students to have fun while studying for an exam.

To prepare this game, you will need some relatively simple supplies, plus an investment of time to put everything together. Here is your supply list: a collection of historical costume images, index cards, glue, scissors, access to a photocopier, and, for the bonus round, access to a laminating machine.

Start by deciding which images are most important for students to be able to identify for their exam. What you will be making are flash cards, in identical pairs. In my case, I made three decks of cards. When I photocopied my images, I made six copies of each. Next, I cut out the images, plus their captions. I recommend using images which come with their own captions, otherwise you have to make your own captions, which adds to your preparation time. I also recommend using a paper cutter over scissors, to reduce your time spent cutting out the images. Next, I glued each image to an index card. Each of my three decks had 76 cards, and it took me a couple of hours to do the gluing, so while it may sound like a project that could potentially take a lot of time, you may surprise yourself with how fast you can glue your images to your cards. Laminate the cards for posterity, and then the work of this project is completed.

Because they are made in identical pairs, these cards can be used for more than one type of game. My two favorites, to date, are Go Fish and Concentration (also called Memory). There are countless variations on either game, so decide on a particular set of rules to adhere to and share them with your students before you begin to play.

We gave Go Fish a try during class this week and it was well received, with several students remarking that it seemed like a good study method for them, and some wishing they had their own sets to take home. It was really nice to hear questions such as, “Does anyone have an Assyrian ruler?” and “Does anyone have a 6th century Byzantine man?” throughout the classroom. Even better was, “Does anyone have an ionic chiton?” “No, but I have a doric chiton.” “What is the difference between the two? We’d better look that up in the textbook,” at which point, they did, right then and there, to answer their question.

In making up the exam, I of course use some of the images that are in the flash card decks. Most teams in my class this week played several rounds, thereby being exposed to each of the images several times. I imagine this will give them an advantage over the students who missed class that day, when it comes to answering those questions on their exam, and I’m curious to see what these games do for test scores and retention of the information.  Studying, cleverly disguised as fun and games, can surely have a positive effect. 

Those of you who teach, do you incorporate games into your lessons? How have they worked for you and your students?

Those of you who have been (or currently are) students, what kinds of games do you wish were in your classrooms, to help you learn material and prepare for exams?

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  • Petra Slinkard September 18, 2009 10.38 am

    Dear Lauren,

    Thanks for the post. I teach Fashion History 1 and 2 at the Art Institute of Indianapolis and frequently include games into my lesson plans. I find that Jeorpardy works well. By breaking up the decades or periods into sections it is easier for me to see where the students need more review and the students tend to be more on point when they are holding each other accountable for information. Also, a cranium style game that involves the concepts of Pictionary, Scrabble, and Jeopardy can help mix it up a bit.

    More recently, in Modern Fashion History this quarter, we did a fast track ‘project runway’ style activity. Each student pulled a time period and we took a field trip to a nearby Salvation Army where the students, with books in hand, had 45 minutes to piece together an ensemble – including accessories- based on their periods. I took photos and emailed them to each student. The following week, each student had to put together a mini ppt lecture on their period and teach the class. The last slide was an image of the ensemble they pieced together. They then had to defend why it was representative of their period. The reasons ranged from fabric or accessory choices or overall silhouettes.

  • Lauren September 22, 2009 09.40 am


    I will have to look into Cranium. I love the Pictionary idea and will have to give that a try, especially since I have them doing sketches for each chapter for another assignment.

    I really love your thrift shop project! That sounds like a lot of fun for the students and a valuable way for them to demonstrate what they’ve learned. Fantastic idea! I think I may just give that a try this semester. If I do, I will be sure to report on the results and give you credit!

  • Worn Through » On Teaching Fashion: Fashion Jeopardy and Mid-Term Exams
    March 26, 2010 - 5:01 am

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