Minds in Bloom welcomes Jenny, the owner of Art with Jenny K., with her post on art integration. We know you’ll find it useful!
“The creative adult is the child that survived.”
What is Art Integration?
Misconceptions about Art Integration
- “I’m not talented.”
- “I’ll have to teach everything with a messy art project.”
- “Art isn’t important.”
- “I don’t have time to let my kids color.”
Why Is Art Integration So Important?
“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.”
Think of art integration as the same sort of approach. We don’t know what the world has in store for our children, but we know that they must be ready to face the challenges as creative thinkers and problem solvers. They must be able to think (fish) for themselves. They must also have the confidence that comes with experience so they know that they can take risks and investigate ideas they have. Children who are only required to take tests and be either right or wrong learn to fear mistakes, which translates to fear of learning. Use art integration to engage your students again and excite them about the process of learning, not the answers or end results.
Art integration is so much easier than you think because it requires that the teacher simply facilitate the experience—the children themselves create and design the experience.
Ways to Use Art Integration in Your Classroom
- Use choice-based learning so students have the opportunity to experiment with various media, like clay and paint (the messy stuff you don’t want to do with the entire class).
- Learn about different cultures by making the art that is popular from that region; for example, Aboriginal art from Australia or masks from Africa.
- Let students listen to music that is related to whatever unit you are teaching. They will fight you (because initially they think that your music isn’t “hip”), but do it anyway—it sinks in in the end.
- Use artists like Monet to teach symmetry, Dali to teach telling time, Mondrian to teach math, or Escher to teach tessellations.
- Create monsters and robots using only the geometric shapes you are studying.
- Make up songs about what you are learning.
- Let students illustrate and write a sequel to their favorite book or an alternate ending to their favorite story.
- Let students create plays about their learning.
- Sing to your children, instead of giving your students instructions in your normal voice. Try singing to them—you’ll get their attention!
- Let your students take dance breaks when they are getting restless.
- Have your students invent games based on the learning they have done in class.
Just let their imaginations stir yours…
M.C. Escher and Leonardo Da Vinci were great mathematicians, scientists, and artists. But mostly, they were great thinkers! With the permission of Art Education Professor Dr. Craig Roland, I have adapted his list, “Learning to Think Like an Artist,” into a kid-friendly poster. Download it for FREE by clicking on the image below.
Want a lesson you can use right now?
Among the most useful (and most popular) art integrations lessons I have created for classroom teachers are my “Pop Art”-style interactive coloring sheets. All students—kindergarten to high school—love to color, so I designed coloring sheets that require a lot of thinking on the part of the student and little to no prep on the part of the teacher (a great combination, no?!). No two end results ever turn out same, and all the skills of a creative thinker are necessary to complete them.
My interactive coloring sheets work like this:
I have created a collection of outlines/shapes of symbols associated with holidays, seasons and other topics related to what you may be teaching. All the shapes are broken up by black lines to create smaller shapes—which gives the images their “Pop Art” feel. At the bottom of each page are boxes with patterns in them. The students are asked to fill the shapes with these patterns. It takes a great deal of thought to decide which patterns to put where, what colors to use and even when a space should be left without patterns. The great news is that there is no right or wrong answer to these coloring sheets…and the more students work on them, the more confident they become in making decisions. I often include some writing prompts, as many of the teachers that use my coloring sheets pair them with writing assignments. Here is what one teacher said about using these coloring sheets:
I found that my 5th/6th graders come to me and, because of the focus on testing, never played with color or design or patterns. Your coloring sheets give them that opportunity, and I’ve seen so much improvement in their attention to detail, as well as noticing patterns, lines, etc. It’s so much more than “just coloring.” ~E.D.
You can try one of my coloring sheets now by clicking HERE to download my FREE apple coloring sheet that is part of the “Meet and Teach” free ebook series.Final Thoughts
The pendulum will swing toward testing, away from testing, and back again. Anyone in education for many years can tell you, they have seen it all. Things come in, then they go out, and the cycle repeats. However, one thing will never change, and that is that children need to be able to safely and confidently make decisions on their own. In a testing saturated world, students are used to being identified with a score, grade, or quantitative assessment of some kind. His or her “ideas” are not necessarily important to anyone. Let’s change that by providing more creative moments for our children and let’s watch our children change along.
Thanks for reading!
I am Bullyproof Music - Lessia Bonn says
Just one word comes to mind after reading all this: Awesomesauce!
Okay.. well, I guess it isn't really a word, but I'm thinking creatively.
Jennifer Larson says
Art is so very important for all children and I love that you are voicing this viewpoint and are sharing lots of practical ways to weave it into the classroom. Art makes me (and my students) happy!
Amber Remark says
Thank you so much for sharing your insight! The TEDtalk on creativity in schools is incredible, and your ideas on how to keep students engaged and creatively thinking are exceptional.