A few years ago, art was merely considered an extracurricular subject, with one or two weekly sessions to help kids learn art techniques. But now, there is much more awareness about how art can help students understand core academic concepts. As a result, schools and educators are focusing more on art-integrated learning so kids can benefit from this learning approach.
It is not just visual arts, such as painting, drawing, or clay modeling, that find a place in an art-integrated classroom; performing arts like dance, music, and drama are equally incorporated depending on the subject matter.
Today we are going to discuss a few examples of how you can encourage art-integrated learning in your classroom. But before we dive into the examples, let’s talk about how art integration can support student learning at school.
Benefits of integrating art into learning
Art-integrated learning is more than just fun and engagement. Besides helping students understand the subject better by simplifying complex concepts, it also has numerous other benefits. Here are some of the key advantages of learning through arts:
1. Students who engage in arts-based activities have been shown to have better problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills, and creativity, all of which can lead to better academic performance.
2. Integrating arts in regular lessons increases student engagement and motivates them to stay focused on the task.
3. Engaging in the arts helps students develop necessary social and emotional skills, such as empathy, self-awareness, and self-expression. These skills have a positive impact on their personality and help them navigate social situations in a better way.
4. Art-integrated learning improves students’ cultural understanding by exposing them to a variety of cultural art forms and perspectives.
5. It supports the development of social skills, decision-making skills, motor development, and risk-taking abilities.
6. It requires students to face and solve multiple challenges as they work on their projects. Plus, it entails paying attention to detail for successful work completion.
7. Art integration builds students’ understanding of perspectives, arrangement, colors, and balance which helps them create visually appealing projects. For example, incorporating DIY tangrams into lesson plans to teach math concepts.
8. Learning through arts encourages students to come up with new ideas and turn them into reality by utilizing their skills and knowledge.
Examples of art integration in the classroom
1. Act and Perform
Acting is a powerful art form that allows people to express themselves through expressions and dialogues. Teachers can use this approach to integrate art into learning. Students can act out scenes from literature to bring the characters to life. They can even research and write short scenes to demonstrate historical events in the class.
Moreover, as a part of culturally responsive teaching, exploring and celebrating different cultures is also possible through enacting plays on worldwide cultural traditions and practices. In addition, teachers can also help students learn various emotional and social skills like empathy, conflict resolution, etc., through effective role-playing.
2. Songs and Music
Music has long been used to help students learn and memorize vital concepts. Remember how every child begins their educational journey by learning the ABC song. Music and songs must not be restricted to preschool or kindergarten classrooms. In fact, teachers can use them in higher grades as well to make learning a musical experience. Have students come up with their own tunes to memorize tables.
They can create a song to remember lists, historical dates, or any other information. When learning a new language, students can listen to songs or make use of mnemonics in that language to learn new vocabulary and sentence structures. To integrate music with history, students can listen to songs on the Civil Rights Movement to learn about the struggle for equality and justice.
3. Collages and Models
Models and collages make excellent learning tools for art integration. Students can use old magazines to cut out relevant images and make collages related to the topic they are learning. Similarly, they can utilize cardboard boxes to make different models such as a DIY geoboard to do fun math activities. Models will also work well to create a visual representation of scientific concepts, for example, the solar system or parts of a plant. They can also be used to explore history.
Students can build a model of a castle or a colonial settlement. They can even learn about different architectural designs by creating a model of a modern skyscraper or an ancient Greek temple. Conversely, students can use collages to represent different themes, characters, events, the journey of a character, or the story’s setting.
4. Sculptures and Puppets
Making sculptures and puppets on your own can be effective tools for art integration, as they allow students to explore different subjects and ideas in a tactile and three-dimensional way. Teachers can ask students to create sculptures on various topics, such as layers of the earth’s crust or their favorite profession, and finish the assignment by writing an essay to go with the sculpture.
Similarly, students can make puppets and use them to act out a story or important moments in history. They can also create puppets that represent different shapes and use them to demonstrate how to identify and classify shapes. In addition, puppets can be used to represent different numbers, which can be further utilized to illustrate addition, subtraction, and other math concepts.
5. Drawings and Illustrations
These are other interesting ways to incorporate art into the core curriculum. It helps develop fine motor skills, improves hand-eye coordination, encourages visual analysis, and instills confidence in learners. Ask students to draw and label diagrams that represent scientific concepts. For example, they could draw and label the different parts of a cell or create a diagram showing photosynthesis.
Encourage students to design a series of illustrations that show the progression of a character in a story or tell picture stories to their peers. They could even draw a scene from a particular battle or create a timeline that shows the progression of a period. Furthermore, they could create illustrations that depict different aspects of a culture, such as clothing, food, or architecture.
Tableau is a piece of art where a group of live performers creates a still image of a scene or an emotion. The performers remain in a fixed position as they visually represent a particular event. Tableau can be a great tool for art integration, allowing students to explore different topics and concepts visually and creatively. Students can depict important historical events, such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence, through a tableau.
They can also represent scenes of a story they are reading or showcase social events such as a rally or the effects of climate change. Furthermore, students can level up their writing assignments like “share a happy memory” or “a challenging experience” by depicting their story through a tableau.
The benefits of integrating arts with regular subjects cannot be ignored. It provides students with a unique and practical approach to learning that engages their creativity and imagination, enhances their academic performance, and helps them develop essential social and emotional skills.
By incorporating arts-based activities into the academic curriculum, teachers can create an effective learning environment that inspires and motivates students to do their best. If you are an educator, try to utilize this approach to allow students to explore and express themselves through various art forms. By doing so, you can contribute to nurturing a generation of well-rounded and innovative individuals who are prepared to succeed in the future.