I think it’s so important that we connect our art lessons with the core subjects happening in the classrooms. With a little creativity it’s amazing how we can create fabulous and engaging art lessons that help support the learning in Language Arts, Science, Reading, Math and Social Studies.
I basically like to meet with the classroom teachers every month or so to find out what is happening in the classroom, what the kids are learning and how I can best support this learning. You can also do this via email once the teachers know you will be doing this regularly. I then keep a list by grade level where I keep track of what the students are covering in all core subjects for each month. This helps me plan what kinds of art lessons I can offer my students that cover my art curriculum and supports their classroom learning.
By doing this, students view art as an integral part of their education rather than an isolated subject they do once or twice a week and it allows them to express their knowledge and understanding that go beyond producing a poster or powerpoint presentation.
Art and Science make a great combination because in science observation is a very important aspect of the learning process. Add some paint, drawing, 3D sculpture, animation and any other artsy medium into the learning and suddenly to have a more meaningful process of learning and understanding.
This is exactly what happened with my grade one students who were learning about insects with their teachers. Whiles they were learning the basics and anatomy of different insects, their teachers asked each student to choose their favorite one to do a more in-depth study and observation of them.
This is where I came into the picture!
Each student brought in an empty and clean 2 liter plastic bottle that were going to be recycled and transformed into an insect terrarium! They also had to bring images of their insect for reference.
We went outside and collected items that we all agreed would be found in an insects’ environment such as twigs, pebbles, grass and soil and we would use this for our terrariums.
The students were completely engaged in this project and were so happy to tell me all about their insect and what it eats, does and where it lives. Talk about knowledge in action!
Back in the classroom, the kids used play dough to create the base in the form of a small hill on a piece of recycled cardboard that was slightly bigger than the rim of the bottle. Have these pre-cut for each student. A stick, branch or straw was dug into the hill.
Next, each student made their insect as life like as possible and again, I was so amazed at the scientific conversations that was going on as kids were making sure their insects had all the accurate body parts in place. Some students chose wiggle eyes and others preferred to make a indents as wiggle eyes takes away the realism a bit. Designs were scratched in to make the insect more realistic and pipe cleaners were used for the legs and antennae. These were threaded into the sticks or branch to stay in place.
I suggest you remind your students to make their insects a medium size that’s not too big as they can be too heavy for the branch. You can also wait for the play dough to harden a bit and then hot glue the insects to the branches.
Finally, when the insects were in place, the students added soil, grass, and more pebbles to complete their gorgeous terrariums before placing the lid on them. While your students are working on their project, use an exact-o knife and cut off the tops of the plastic bottles so they are ready for the final step.
A card with the name of their insect and some information would go perfectly with this as part of the display.
Don’t you think this a great way to show learning and understanding? How do you integrate your art lessons?
If you are looking for some other science/art project ideas you can use with your students, take a look at this site that has some great e-magazines for kids. I only promote top quality sites and products that I use myself!
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