Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Fantasy Visualization

Mary Tomczak


This activity provides a unique way of brainstorming to get an idea. A group of artists known as the Surrealists used this game to give them ideas for their artworks.


The student knows how different subjects, themes, and symbols (through context, value, and aesthetics) convey intended meanings or ideas in works of art.

The student knows and uses the interrelated elements of art and the principles of design to improve the communication of ideas.


-Slide projector
-Slides or poster prints of artworks from Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, and other Surrealists
-Pen or pencil
-A ream of 8 1/2” x 11” white paper
-Selection of reference books dealing with Surrealist artists
-[Get Surreal with Salvador Dali], a 25-minute video available from the Salvador Dali Museum (
-Posters of paintings: [The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory], and [The Hallucinogenic Toreador], to name a few. These are the two that the students seem to be drawn to.
-If available, February 1992 edition of [Scholastic Art], “Surrealism,” featuring Salvador Dali
-[Dali's Landscapes, Self-Portraist, and Still-Lifes], a family discovery guide which is available by contacting the Salvador Dali Museum
-[Animals Dali Knew and Drew: A Coloring Book] by Jamey Banard
-Chart paper or board


1. Pull out the Salvador Dali materials. Prior to this activity, contact the museum to use the video or select one from the school media center. Pull out and display reference books, locate posters, and other materials that may prove to be helpful. (See Weblinks)
2. Review and locate any other materials for the activities. If need be, write down notes on some cards so that you can refer to them when you are talking to the students.
3. Provide on poster board examples of Exquisite Corpses in both verbal and drawn form. (For an explanation of the game Exquisite Corpse, see Procedures #3 and #6.)
4. Set up the slide projector on the first day for viewing. Make a point to review slides prior to the presentation to make sure they are in properly. (If you have a good set of poster prints available, these may be used instead of slides.)
5. The first day's activities revolve around the video [Get Surreal with Salvador Dali], slides, poster prints and class discussion.
6. Day Two: Be prepared to break the class into groups of four for the activities.
7. On chart paper, briefly explain the steps involved in the Exquisite Corpse game. (See Procedures #5-#8)
8. Post assessment criteria on chart paper or the board. (See Assessments)


1. To gain the students' attention say, “Did you ever have a dream that seemed real? Were the objects in your dream something that went together?” I want you to take a journey with me into the world of the Surrealists, and Salvador Dali will serve as your main guide during our visit into their fantasy world.

2. View selection of slides. The students view a selection of work from Dali, Magritte, and other Surrealists. With each slide, provide the students with a brief history of the painting, artist, and the history of the time. Discuss various paintings and highlight the use of symbolism in each. After the slide show, show several of the reference books, posters of the artworks, the coloring book on Dali, and if time permits, the viewing of the video [Get Surreal with Salvador Dali] from the Dali museum.

3. Provide a quick review of the previous day's activities. Relate to the present knowledge of the students by asking the students how do they think the Surrealists came up with their ideas? Ask the students, listen to their ideas, compliment and laugh whenever possible. Then ask the students what games do they play when they are together with their friends. Some may say Charades or Truth or Dare. Tell the students that this group of artists was no different from them. Whenever they were together as friends, they would play games. Some were very useful in giving them ideas for their works. The game that we are interested in is called Exquisite Corpse. During the 1930's, many of the young artists would meet at a local cafe, have a few “coffees” and play this game. You may have played this game in your writing class. It is where you try to come up with some of the most mismatched sentences for an idea. Some teachers have magnets that have assorted words on them and you pick and choose the words and put them together. In this game, each person at the table would take their turn with either a word or part of a drawing. The idea was that the person before you and the one after you would never see what you contributed until the end. As the evening progressed and more “coffees” were served, the Exquisite Corpses became more and more fantasy-like.

4. To begin the game, the students break up into groups of no more than four per group. A chart with how the game is played is displayed, and the teacher and the class do one of the written examples together on the chalkboard.

5. There are many different variations to this process, but basically the first person writes a sentence or phrase, then folds the paper so the next person in the group does not see what was written and passes it on to the next, and so on until each person in the group has had their turn. The game revolves around linguistic chance and surprise juxtapositions, so you shouldn't reveal too much to any one person at any one time. The first person in the group reads the final sentences out loud to the group.

6. The next variation is composed word by word, adding (in order) an adjective, noun, verb, adverb, etc. The classic first sentence was “The Exquisite Corpse will drink the new wine.”

7. Now let's try a drawing, fold the paper in fours like a fan, and have each member of the group draw four different parts of a mysterious creature.

8. Once the paper is folded, the first person in the group begins the drawing. It may be easier to assign each person in the group a different body part that they are responsible for drawing: head, body, legs, and tail. With each drawing, each student in the group takes a turn and draws a different body part. When the person is done with drawing his or her body part, have them fold the paper so that the next person cannot see the body part, but have a very small part overlap so the next person can pick up the drawing from that line and connect his or her drawn body part. Have each take a turn and draw on the paper.

9. Provide feedback: The instructor needs to walk around during this activity, view the drawings, laugh with the students, and provide feedback. Here it would be beneficial to read aloud some of the verbal Exquisite Corpses. Hold up and display some of the drawings.

10. Assess the activity using the assessment criteria that is posted in front of the class. (See Assessments)


The instructor assesses the group work for the two activities. Each group is responsible for turning in one page of verbal Exquisite Corpses with a minimium of ten sentences and two Exquisite Corpses drawings. The instructor looks for imagination and grammar in this activity, along with how well the group interacted during the activities.

-MASTERPIECE/EXCELLENT grade of 90% would show that the group eagerly followed and demonstrated avid interest and used the time to solve the problem. This is a high-energy group.

-ACCEPTABLE/SATISFACTORY grade of 85% would show they followed the instructions and demonstrated a basic interest and understanding of the project which was reflected in their drawings and written words.

-FAIR/SOMEWHAT ACCEPTABLE grade of 79% would show minimal understanding of the instructions; some in the group followed the instructions, but some just didn't want to participate in the activity. The work showed low interest and it was done just to be handed in.

-NOT QUITE/OR I HAD TO DO SOMETHING ELSE grade of 70% demonstrated little or no evidence at all of doing the assignment. The group did not turn in all the work and showed little interest in working together to get the activity done.


1. Make sure students have the communiation/social skills needed for group interaction.
2. Assign a specific role and responsibility to each student when working in a group.
3. If needed, let some students work with trained classmates to help keep them on task in a group situation.

Web Links

Web supplement for Fantasy Visualization
The Getty's Art Education Website

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