This post today is mainly for the classroom teachers however, the role of the art teacher is crucial here so please read on. My question to the classroom teacher is the following… Do you integrate art into the core subjects you teach? More importantly, how often do you do this?
I know many classroom teachers are somewhat terrified of art because they can’t draw or paint themselves so they avoid integrating art at all. My message to you is please don’t be afraid because you are missing out on a wonderful opportunity to use art as a tool to help your students understand the content better. You are missing out on using the critical thinking skills that are involved in art. And you are missing out on creating that all important connection between art and all the academic subjects.
Here are some ways you can integrate art into the core subjects and I guarantee you will even have some fun. 🙂
Talk to the Art Teacher
This is the first person you should meet with when you are planning your lessons and content. Explain what you want to teach, your goals and outcome. Explain the main idea/question/concept. See if you can even do a joint project together. The art teacher will give you ideas how you can teach certain concepts while still allowing room for creativity and expression (the artistic component).
I do this quite successfully with the teachers I work with and I really like it. In fact, what I do with my colleagues on a regular basis is ask them what they plan to teach in math, science, language arts and social studies for each grade level. They ask me how they can integrate art and use it to teach or expand on certain topics and concepts and I try to adapt my art curriculum around what is happening in the classrooms so we are all working together as a team. The message the students receive loud and clear is that art is not an isolated subject you just do in the art room once or twice a week.
Here are some examples of art being integrated into a core subject lesson.
My grade seven students were learning about Greece and the teacher wanted some ideas how to integrate art into this theme. Part of the unit involved writing a myth. In social studies class the students wrote their myth and painted their ideas on large construction paper and what integration was happening in the art room? They created amazing paper mache red and black figure Greek vases with recycled cardboard pieces and painted their myth on them. See more about this lesson here.
Grade six students were studying ancient Egypt last year. I sat with their teacher and she decided to make some reliefs depicting Egyptian life on clay which turned out fabulous. In the art room, we were busy making amulets out of clay, Egyptian Gods with india ink and acrylic paint, mummies and hieroglyphs. Again, a connection was made and the process and learning was way more meaningful.
Pre-Kinder love to read and learn about Eric Carle– who doesn’t? I adore him! So while they were reading and writing to the author, we were painting tissue paper in the famous style of Eric Carle and making collaged insects on large paper. The kids then made a classroom book using the pictures we did in art. See more on this lesson here. Do you see how much fun this can be?
Last but not least, my son’s grade were learning about insects in science. The teacher decided to have the students choose an insect to study and learn about and do large drawings of them while in the art class, we made insect terrariums for each student’s insects out of playdoh, empty soda bottles, sand, some sticks and pebbles.
Just remember this. Art isn’t just drawing and painting. Art is an expression, a feeling, it is problem solving and it is fun! Find ways to integrate art when you plan and create your amazing lessons. Ask the art teacher to help you and go for it. Lose the fear! Communication and collaboration is essential for this to work. Your visual learners will adore you and so will the rest of the class because all kids love art and to have it totally integrated into your core subjects is just a bonus!
It’s not that scary now is it?
I know you can do it and I know you will be MAGNIFICENT. Let me know what you think and how it goes.
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