Hi everyone! I’m Suzy from StudentSavvy! I would first like to give a big thank you to Rachel for allowing me to guest post on her fantastic blog! I am a huge fan of hers, and I’m grateful for this incredible opportunity!
When I was a student in high school, I attended a charter school that was considered a “Performing and Fine Arts Academy.” Before I was accepted into this school (there was unfortunately a long waiting list to be admitted), I attended a public high school for approximately two months. Looking back at my experience while I was waiting for admittance, I just remember an average school experience. I made a few friends, but I honestly don’t remember the time I spent in the classroom or what I learned.
It just wasn’t that memorable.
Once I was accepted into the Performing and Fine Arts Academy, I observed how teachers implemented the creative arts in almost all academic subject areas. I witnessed how students were deeply engaged in the material and were active participants in daily activities.
You may be thinking, “Well, sure. Of course the Performing and Fine Arts Academy would be more exciting and engaging. They probably have way better resources and funding, too.”
You would be surprised to find the performing arts school didn’t even have a PAC! They only had a tiny black box room for performances. They didn’t have expensive props or costumes. They had involved parents who handmade costumes right before their school performances.
The purpose of this intro is not to advocate charter schools over public schools. The difference between the two schools was the approach to learning and the student experience. Public schools can easily incorporate art and creativity into their lessons with little to no resources. The creative arts, whether they are drawing, singing, acting, or playing music, allows students to implement their own creative twist on their learning.
Here are some ways to connect the arts with academic subject areas, such as math, science, and social studies. I will use the third grade California State Standards in these examples.
Visual Art Standard: 2.3: Paint or draw a landscape, seascape, or cityscape that shows the illusion of space.
Science Standard: 3b. Students know examples of diverse life forms in different environments, such as oceans, deserts, tundra, forests, grasslands, and wetlands.
Across-Curriculum Activity #1:
Students design a landscape of a specific biome. As the teacher, discuss different biomes, as well as the life forms that live there, and assist students in selecting their environment to create their art landscape. After their biome is selected, students will work independently on drawing or coloring their biome landscapes. Depending on age group, students may present their project to the class or, as an extension, have them complete a worksheet or paper discussing the artistic choices they made.
Theater Standard: 5.2 Develop problem-solving and communication skills by participating collaboratively in theatrical experiences.
Literature Standard: CCSS RL3.6 Students distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.
Across-Curriculum Activity #2:
In this lesson that is standard-aligned with both literature and theater, students will role play characters from a novel. They will work together collaboratively while designing a script and working together during the short skit. While working on the script, the teacher will ask them to come up with an alternate ending, where they would act as themselves and possibly to help resolve any conflicts in the story. When the students perform their skits, they will find that the story will have a completely different outcome from the original, and that is due to their own POV rather than the characters’.
Dance Standard: 2.3 Create a sequence that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Name and refine the parts of that sequence.
Social Studies Standard: 3.2 4. Discuss the interaction of new settlers with the already established Indians of the region.
Across-Curriculum Activity #3 :
In this activity, students would work together collaboratively in groups of 4-5 to create a movement sequence that illustrates the interactions of the early European settlers and Native American Indians. Students would be ask to recreate some of the ideas and experiences they have read about from their studies. The movement would focus on how the Native Americans felt about the settlers intruding on their native land. Their movement sequence must create a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. After the activity hold a class discussion to affirm their understanding of the conflicts and resolutions that were displayed in each group.
Music Standard: 3.4.2 Create developmentally appropriate movements to express pitch, tempo, form, and dynamics.
MATH CCSS 3.G.A.1: Understand that shapes in different categories (e.g., rhombuses, rectangles, and others) may share attributes (e.g., having four sides), and that the shared attributes can define a larger category (e.g., quadrilaterals). Recognize rhombuses, rectangles, and squares as examples of quadrilaterals, and draw examples of quadrilaterals that do not belong to any of these subcategories.
Across-Curriculum Activity #4 :
In this activity, students will memorize and rehearse a song with movement, taught by the instructor, to teach different attributes of shapes. Students will also use their bodies in movement to show each shape using partners. According to Anne Murphy Paul, journalist and the author of Brilliant: The New Science of Smart, medical students use rhymes and songs to help remember vast quantities of information. She explains that one of the best ways to remember facts is to use rhymes and set them to music.
Art Standard: 2.1 Explore ideas for art in a personal sketchbook.
Literature Standard: CCSS.RL.3.7 Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)
Across-Curriculum Activity #5 :
In this activity, students will play the role of the illustrator. Typically with this literature standard, students are observing how the author and illustrator work together to convey what is taking place in the story. In a sketchbook that is to be used in class while reading independently, students will quote text from the book. Through illustration, they will use mood, setting, and character development to sketch out what is happening in the story. Below their drawing, they will explain how their drawing contributes to what is conveyed by the words in the text.
Photos purchased from Dollar Photo Club
The lessons above are five examples of how teachers can quickly and easily implement art into their academic lessons. Below is a freebie that offers strategies to create across-curriculum lessons and a standards chart to assist you along the way.
Suzy Bowden has had several years experience as an Early Childhood Education Teacher. She is currently a K-6 substitute teacher in the Sacramento area while she is busily creating educational resources, getting her masters in Technology in Education, and planning hers (and her fiancé’s) upcoming wedding. Find her at the StudentSavvy Blog and at StudentSavvy on TpT!