Integrating art with basic skills, like math, science and grammar nurtures students’ capacity for critical and innovative thinking. We took a look at some ways to help students thrive by bringing creativity to core subject areas.
With budget cuts and an emphasis on standardized testing growing over the years, arts programs are the first to go. However, it is becoming increasingly recognized that art-integrated lessons not only increase students’ motivation with assignments, but helps their overall success in learning new information. Students also retain knowledge better by making connections through creative, engaging material.
Math and art may seem like polar opposites, but the two subjects can be combined into a fun educational activity by creating shapes and colors.
Students can learn about ratios by mixing paint “parts”. For example: 2 “parts” blue paint + 2 “parts” red paint = 1 “part” purple paint. For different color hues, like dark orange, more red “parts” should be mixed with less yellow “parts.”
In the Integrated Arts Academy at H.O Wheeler, fourth graders learned about geometry though the art of Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky. Students discussed the painter and then created their own similar artwork. Your class can easily make geometric art with colored pencils, rulers and protractors. Once the activity is completed, students should be able to identify the shapes they used and their angles.
Just about any aspect of biology can integrate art when you turn it into a fun model-making activity. Meghan Everette teaches her wee ones about insects, metamorphosis and habitats by reading age-appropriate books with them and then creating models out of clay. Students must build the correct parts of the bug, but can use brightly colored clay to add to the fun. If students have outside time, they can take old shoe boxes and collect natural elements for their habitat.
Meghan Everette offers another very cool arts-focused science activity meant for older students learning about gravity, force, motion and pendulums. The lesson also integrates information about Jackson Pollock, viscosity and symmetry. Simply cut off the top of a water bottle and replace the cap with a glue top. Hang the bottle from a tripod and fill it with paint. Set a sheet of paper underneath your tripod and swing the pendulum. The resulting art will be painted with Pollock-esque dots.
High art history
Your history class can also have a fun time creating art. Jodi Southard’s first grade class made George Washington placards on President’s Day, creating images of the historical figure with cotton balls and construction paper. The class also noted down facts they learned about the president. Teachers can focus this activity on any historical person they are discussing in the classroom.
Older classes have the opportunity to learn about the arts, music and theatre in their history classes. For example, how was the arts affected by the Industrial Revolution? Students might create a script for a play that focuses on the steam engine or Orville’s first airplane. The class can create costumes, props and a set design according to the time period. Invite parents, friends and the rest of the school to watch the performance.