A Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award Winner
The NGAkids Art Zone app from the National Gallery of Art introduces children not only to the experience of great artwork, but also to the creative process of producing great artworks. Through the manipulation of paintings spanning hundreds of years and numerous styles of art, children are free to explore the elements that go into a painting. In the classical and impressionist designs, they are free to explore and modify the objects of the paintings, from the sky and the background, through the middle and the foreground, adjusting for perspective and adding and subtracting characters and scenery at will. Some of the characters in the paintings can be animated for an extra laugh. In the strongest part of the app, that of the more modern art styles, the artist can explore color and layering paints, producing works that are similar in style to the famous work but ultimately entirely original. All artworks that are produced can be saved to a gallery and shared with friends.
The app also provides background material on all the paintings featured within the NGAkids Art Zone. Players can create a personal avatar (again, using elements of great artwork or even imported images to design an individual that expresses him- or herself) and work freeform in a general painting environment. As we explored the NGAkids Art Zone, we were especially impressed by how much range and depth there was; what seemed initially like a gimmick (modifying famous paintings with other objects and making them dance) quickly gave way to real art exploration and many hours of creative expression.
–Parents’ Choice Foundation, 2015
NGAkids Art Zone is a phenomenal app from the National Gallery of Art to engage children of a broad range of interests and immerse them in some fundamental art techniques. The app includes eight different activities based on paintings from the National Gallery. Students can change backgrounds, add objects to the scenes, and change color palettes to create their own distinct imagery of famous paintings. For those who like dress up, there is a painting where they can change characters’ dresses and hairstyles . Children who like animals will have an activity where they can add animals to the scene, adjust their size, and hear them make noises. Another activity allows a student to add George Washington dancing in a marionette format. There are directions for each activity along with an overview of the painting. Unfortunately, the text is small and specific information about paintings limited. However, this app provides a wonderful opportunity for students to enjoy famous works of art and experiment with fundamental elements of art including color, texture, foreground and background effects.
- The variety of art and activities will make this app appealing to children of a wide variety of interests and abilities.
- App enables students to experience the effects of artistic techniques and spatial impacts.
- Students can easily save and share their work.
- Although most activities are intuitive, the instructions for each activity are written in small font with no voice-over so younger students may need adult support at times.
- The teaching about fundamentals is experiential rather than explicit. For example, students play with the color wheel but they are not offered a formal explanation.
— Mindprint Learning, Teachers with Apps, 2015