I love watching Food Network, especially the shows where chefs use their creativity and think outside the box (or basket?). I always thought that there were a lot of possibilities to bring some of those competitions into the art room. My 8th graders recently participated in a "Chopped" challenge on their 3rd day of school to get them used to the idea of collaboration and problem solving, and to introduce them to the location of supplies I moved around in the art room over the summer.
To familiarize the students with the concept of "Chopped", I played a video of a round of Chopped. I recommend some of the Chopped: Junior videos. I explained the concept to them: work with your partner to make art out of the "mystery ingredients" that I had prepared ahead of time. I tried to talk like the Chopped host "also available to you are the tools and supplies in the art room".
I only have 6 students in my 8th grade class so I drew names to put them in three partner pairs. I presented the bags, which some also used as "ingredients", set a timer, and let the students start. The groups that had the best communication did the best in the competition. The first team to be chopped became judges with me in the next round. I tried to get them to commentate with me and they were feeling a little shy, but they did help me to choose the chopped champions.
Maybe you're thinking, ok, but what if I have more than six students? (I know that my class is tiny!) Well, I have some suggestions. You could make bigger teams, set the timer for shorter rounds, or stretch the completion to more than one day. My students asked to do it again the next day but I didn't have mystery ingredients prepared so I might do it again toward the end of the semester.
I used paper bags to hold the ingredients. I honestly just pulled stuff out of cabinets in the classroom, things that didn't necessarily go together so the students would have to think a little more. Some that I used were donated rolls of receipt paper, tongue depressors, clothespins, safety pins, pipe cleaners, a ball of yarn, rubber bands, and toothpicks. I wish I would have thought to plug in the hot glue guns ahead of time so they would have been warm.
I think this game was a hit. It had a little more structure than a task party (which sounds super fun but I don't think my students are ready for it yet) but it still got the students active and their creative juices flowing. I will definitely do this again, even with high school or upper elementary.