Minds in Bloom presents Renée Goularte, a former art-instructor, a working artist, and a writer, with her post on integrating art into your curriculum.
If you are a teacher, chances are you’ve said it: “We have no time for art.” Chances are equally good that you believe that art is important. It is…and it’s worth making time for!
A science teacher friend of mine often reminds people that “science is art, and art is science.” Science and art both inherently require a significant degree of observation activity. When students are learning to observe closely, that’s a great time to teach a lesson on drawing a still life that includes plants or other natural elements, such as rocks, twigs, or bones. On a more discreet level, students can do leaf observation drawings and add a creative art twist with watercolor, oil pastel, or even crayon rubbings!
What if students are asked to construct 3D models, with or without plans or a template, out of a variety of materials (cardboard, construction paper, aluminum foil)? What a great introduction to sculpture as an art form!
Geometry is especially prevalent in art and vice-versa. As part of a geometry unit, students can create geometric shape collages or geometric people or animal collages. A “looking at art” lesson focusing on what students see in a Wassily Kandinsky painting includes tons of geometry vocabulary and can be enhanced by an abstract drawing in which students draw different types of lines, shapes, or angles, as dictated by the teacher — a lesson with the added benefit of developing and assessing listening skills. Add a problem-solving component by having students color half the shapes or half the total area. Then have students discuss each other’s compositions using art and geometry vocabulary, and write about them, too!
A common activity during patriotic holidays looks at symbols and/or has students color in American flag pictures. But there are a number of famous artists (Alexander Calder and Jasper Johns come to mind) who have used the American flag as inspiration for paintings, collages, and sculptures. Students can look at some of these examples and create beautiful, imaginative, abstract patriotic color collages out of cut or torn paper…something just a little different, highly decorative, and even thought-provoking, if students are asked to keep the red/blue/white relationships intact. Imagine a set of these symbolic abstracts on a bulletin board that includes a Pledge of Allegiance poster!
Poetry writing lessons are a perfect opportunity for integrating art. Poetry requires the stripping away of extra language and focuses on the creation of imagery. So, why stop with the writing, especially for short poems like haiku or cinquain? It takes little time for students to recopy their short poems onto white paper, mount them, and create a colorful drawing or collage border that depicts the content of the poem and makes a connection between the written and the visual.
Some Food for Thought
Asking students to think and work like artists presents opportunities that foster self-expression and problem-solving and can help them find new and creative ways to demonstrate their learning. Download my free resource for teachers, Making Time for Art, for more ideas and suggestions for creating an art-friendly classroom, and check out my blog, Creating Art with Kids, for narratives on art lessons.
Renée Goularte is a retired elementary teacher, a former art instructor, a working artist, and a writer. She has taught all elementary grades from K-5 and with special groups, including GATE, ELL, and at-risk students, and is dedicated to helping non-art teachers bring more authentic art instruction into their classrooms. Read more about her art lessons on her blog, Creating Art with Kids, and get more ideas for integrating art across the curriculum with Making Time for Art, a free resource from her TeachersPayTeachers store.