Aug 9, 2013

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Out of Ice Breakers? Try a TASK Party!

Editor’s Note: Today writer Sarah shares a fun ice breaker that can be done with students or adults. Be sure to check back next week for a new Back-to-School activity each day! 


Do you loathe some of those beginning of the year ice breakers? Do you dread ill-conceived team-building activities? Maybe it is time to freshen up your back-to-school staff meetings with a TASK Party!

::::: You Are Officially Invited! :::::

WHAT: A TASK Party is a community-building piece of performance art. It was first started by conceptual artist Oliver Herring. All participants agree to two rules — one: to write down a task on a piece of paper and add it to the box, and two: to draw a task from the box and complete it. It is anonymous and all tasks are open to interpretation.

WHERE: Anywhere! You can hold this event in a classroom or staff room. It can be done during a short period of time, or over the course of your school year. A set of supplies of any kind (markers, pencils, paper, rubber bands, etc.) can be provided, but participants can use anything they want to complete the task. Many tasks are action-oriented and need no supplies. Once a task is complete, the paper should be posted to create a collage of completed tasks.

WHEN: Try it on the first day of class with your students. The process is truly self-regulating. Inappropriate tasks are rarely written because participants also have to draw and complete one. Or try it at your first staff meeting. Get teachers into a creative mix!

WHY: A task party is a way to build creative capacity for students and adults. It is a fun and accessible way to get them interacting and working through the creative process in groups. At the end, it is an awesome feeling (especially for those who feel they are ”not good at” art) to experience being part of a large-scale art project.


Participants can put anything in the box, which is what makes a task party so much fun. Tasks can be more straightforward, “Find the three shiniest things in the school,” or totally off-the-wall, “Open an ice cream shop.” Check out these fun photos from a task party at last year’s NAEA National Convention.


So tell us, what task would YOU put in the task box?

Do you have any other creative ice breakers to share? We’d love to know.




Sarah-DThis article was written by AOE Team member Sarah Dougherty.  Sarah is the Visual Arts Curriculum Coordinator and Arts Integration Specialist for the largest school district in Iowa, prior to which she served as an elementary and HS art teacher for 7 years.

About Sarah | Sarah’s Articles

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  • Julia Thomas

    Not sure I get how the task party works? Students write individual task, but pick as a small group so they can perform together the task in whatever imaginative way they define the task? Can you provide an example of how students might solve the task sample you wrote, “Find the three shiniest things in the school,”

    • Sarah

      However you want it to work, which is why it is so great! Students can interpret it however they want, they can draw the shiny things, observe them, write their location, whatever. It can be done individually, or as a group. It doesn’t matter how the task gets completed.

  • Jen

    I agree. I’m not really sure how it works, either. I’m sure that if I don’t quite understand it, my students aren’t going to, either. My middle school students need a little more direction. It sounds very interesting and I’d really like to do it. But I think that I actually need a little more direction, too.

  • Sarah

    I hope this helps clarify things…

    Materials: Box, slips of paper, writing utensils, art materials


    1.Each person should write a task and put it in the box

    2. Each person should draw a slip from the box and complete the task in any way they feel comfortable with. Examples: If the task says “Make a house,” you could draw it, create a sculpture, you could make the shape of a house with your body, etc. It is open to interpretation.

    3. Once the task is complete, the slip should be posted on a board with other completed tasks.

    4. When you have finished a task, you then add a new one to the box and draw a new slip, so the process continues.

    If this still doesn’t help, try checking out Oliver’s website I promise, it is simple, fun, and a great way to get people moving, thinking, and creating. I am starting my own staff meetings off with it this year. Let us know if you try it!

    • Jen

      Thanks! Much easier to understand now. It sounds fun!