Integrating the Arts with Other Subjects
The key goals of Involving Families and Communities are to develop interest and skills in the arts through family and community engagement, develop community resources to support ongoing arts learning, and increase understanding of various art forms.
Practice in Action
What Is It?
Integrating the Arts with Other Subjects combines the creative engagement of arts activities with content from other subject areas, such as math, science, language arts, social studies, and technology. There are many ways to integrate the arts with specific content areas. For example, an interplanetary travel brochure combines science content with art skills.
There are many types of arts-integrated activities. Some examples are project- or problem-based, or thematic projects that require collaboration and incorporate content across the curriculum. For instance, in designing and publishing a brochure that advertises travel to a selected planet, students have to learn about the planets (science), travel advertising (economics, technology), persuasive writing (language arts), and combine all of those into an aesthetically pleasing print product that "sells" the planet of their choice.
What Do I Do?
Begin by connecting with school-day teachers to find out what themes students are studying in different classes. If students are studying the early explorers in social studies, you can extend their learning with arts-based activities such as creating maps, replicating costumes and plays based on the life of early explorers, or designing a flag to mark a new settlement. To incorporate reading and writing skills in an arts-based activity, students can make and illustrate their own books around a theme. It is important to develop arts-based activities that also tap students' interests, such as animals, cooking, music, or technology. Whatever the activity, be sure that students have an opportunity to explore, express, and present something that incorporates learning from different subject areas.
Why Does It Work?
Integrating the Arts with Other Subjects works because students are able to use different strategies and learning styles to explore a variety of subject areas. Students who struggle in science, for example, might enjoy the content more if it is presented in the context of an art activity, ultimately increasing their desire to learn. Giving students opportunities to dance, act, draw, paint, or play music draws on their strengths and broadens their learning experience across the curriculum.
Planning Your Lesson
Great afterschool lessons start with having a clear intention about who your students are, what they are learning or need to work on, and crafting activities that engage students while supporting their academic growth. Great afterschool lessons also require planning and preparation, as there is a lot of work involved in successfully managing kids, materials, and time.
Below are suggested questions to consider while preparing your afterschool lessons. The questions are grouped into topics that correspond to the Lesson Planning Template. You can print out the template and use it as a worksheet to plan and refine your afterschool lessons, to share lesson ideas with colleagues, or to help in professional development sessions with staff.
Lesson Planning Template Questions
What grade level(s) is this lesson geared to?
How long will it take to complete the lesson? One hour? One and a half hours? Will it be divided into two or more parts, over a week, or over several weeks?
What do you want students to learn or be able to do after completing this activity? What skills do you want students to develop or hone? What tasks do they need to accomplish?
List all of the materials needed that will be needed to complete the activity. Include materials that each student will need, as well as materials that students may need to share (such as books or a computer). Also include any materials that students or instructors will need for record keeping or evaluation. Will you need to store materials for future sessions? If so, how will you do this?
What do you need to do to prepare for this activity? Will you need to gather materials? Will the materials need to be sorted for students or will you assign students to be "materials managers"? Are there any books or instructions that you need to read in order to prepare? Do you need a refresher in a content area? Are there questions you need to develop to help students explore or discuss the activity? Are there props that you need to have assembled in advance of the activity? Do you need to enlist another adult to help run the activity?
Think about how you might divide up groups―who works well together? Which students could assist other peers? What roles will you assign to different members of the group so that each student participates?
Now, think about the Practice that you are basing your lesson on. Reread the Practice. Are there ways in which you need to amend your lesson plan to better address the key goal(s) of the Practice? If this is your first time doing the activity, consider doing a "run through" with friends or colleagues to see what works and what you may need to change. Alternatively, you could ask a colleague to read over your lesson plan and give you feedback and suggestions for revisions.
What to Do
Think about the progression of the activity from start to finish. One model that might be useful—and which was originally developed for science education—is the 5E's instructional model. Each phrase of the learning sequence can be described using five words that begin with "E": engage, explore, explain, extend, and evaluate. For more information, see the 5E's Instructional Model.
Outcomes to Look For
How will you know that students learned what you intended them to learn through this activity? What will be your signs or benchmarks of learning? What questions might you ask to assess their understanding? What, if any, product will they produce?
After you conduct the activity, take a few minutes to reflect on what took place. How do you think the lesson went? Are there things that you wish you had done differently? What will you change next time? Would you do this activity again?
Music in Nature (3-12)
Students learn about the Incan civilization of the Andes mountains, listen to traditional Andean music, and make a siku—a traditional Andean musical instrument.
Duration: Two 45-minute sessions
- Learn about the geography of the Andes mountains
- Learn about the relationship between nature and traditional Andean music
- Make and play a traditional Andean siku
- Map of the world that shows South American countries and the Andean mountain range
- CD player and CDs with Andean music. (one example of a CD is The Andean Flutes by Joel Francisco Perri, which includes the songs "El Pájaro Campana," "Soplo del Viento," "Carnaval Equatoriano," "Tierra del Fuego," and "Los Condores del Sol")
- Bamboo (depending on what is available, either short pieces or one long piece to be cut into shorter pieces; may be found at garden supply stores)
- Craft saw
- Plastic wrap
- Colorful yarn
- Cardboard strips to help stabilize bamboo during construction (optional)
- Pictures of the Andean siku (optional)
- Research basic information about Andean civilizations and music. (See Resources tab for suggested Web sites.)
- Read Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark and select excerpts to read aloud to class.
- Listen to some Andean music and review musical concepts. Syncopation stresses an "off-beat" in music. Siku music uses a form of syncopation that involves a "short-long-short short-long-short" note pattern. To demonstrate, clap a steady rhythm while saying "dit-daaaaaaah-dit" in the syncopated rhythm.
- Review materials and instructions for making an Andean siku.
- Using the craft saw, cut bamboo into five pieces (9, 8, 7, 6, and 5 inches long) per student.
What to Do
- Read aloud excerpts from Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark.
- Ask students to find the Andean mountains on a map and identify the countries that the mountains span.
- Discuss music and how people find inspiration for music. Play an example of traditional Andean music. Ask students what they think of when they hear the music and what the inspiration for this music might have been.
- Explain to students that the people of the Andes often found their musical inspiration in nature. Discuss how nature can create music. Ask students to brainstorm sounds in nature and demonstrate how someone might imitate those sounds. For example, tapping fingers softly on desk can simulate rain; saying "sssshhhhhhh" can simulate the sound of a breeze through the leaves.
- Play the example of Andean music again. Discuss how syncopation stresses an "off-beat" in music, and that siku music uses a form of syncopation that involves a "short-long-short short-long-short" note pattern. To demonstrate, clap a steady rhythm while saying "dit-daaaaaaah-dit" in the syncopated rhythm. Have your students try it, too.
- Ask students to explain the sounds in nature that they think inspired this piece. Remind them to consider the environment and climate of the Andes mountains.
- Begin by playing some Andean music for students. Remind them of the Andean music that they heard and discussed in the last session.
- Explain that students will be making an Andean siku—a traditional pan flute made from bamboo reeds.
- Give each student the supplies to create a siku:
- 5 bamboo reeds, precut into lengths of 9, 8, 7, 6, and 5 inches
- Cardboard strips and/or colored yarn
- Instruct students to sand the ends of each piece of bamboo until smooth.
- Wad up a small piece of plastic wrap and put it inside the bottom of the longest piece of bamboo. It needs to be a tight fit—blow into the bamboo piece to make sure that no air escapes past the plastic wrap. Move the plastic wrap up or down inside the bamboo to adjust the pitch of the pipe. Repeat for the remaining four bamboo pieces.
- Lay the pieces next to each other, longest to shortest, and line up the tops of each piece. Tape the pieces together about one inch from the top. You may want to stabilize the pipes by placing a cardboard strip horizontally across the pipes before taping. Cover the tape by wrapping yarn around the pieces multiple times.
- To play the siku, hold the panpipe vertically, placing it against your chin and just under your top lip, with the longest piece to your left. Blow across the top of each pipe as you would with a bottle, making the sound "tu" or "pu."
- Point out that siku music uses brief notes rather than longer, sustained notes. This means that students should use a forceful attack when playing the instrument.
- Ask students to think about sounds in nature and use their sikus to "play" those sounds. For example, raindrops falling, thunder crashing, or birds chirping.
Outcomes to Look For
- Student participation and engagement
- An understanding of how sounds in nature can inspire music
- An understanding and appreciation of Andean music and culture
- Students use of the siku to create sounds that emulate sounds of nature
Planetary Travel Brochure (4-6)
Students create a travel brochure for the planet of their choice using basic elements of the visual arts.
Duration: Two to three 45-minute sessions
- Understand basic elements of the visual arts
- Understand how the visual arts can be used to communicate ideas
- Learn how to use expressive features and visual organization to communicate ideas
- Copy of The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System by Joanna Cole
- Chalkboard or dry-erase board
- Internet access or books about the solar system
- Drawing materials (cardstock or manila paper, pencils, crayons or markers)
- Arts and crafts materials (yarn, string, construction paper, glitter, glue)
- Travel brochures from various locations (optional)
- Read The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System by Joanna Cole and use the illustrations to review the basic elements of the visual arts, such as color, shape, and line.
- Consult the Resources tab for suggested Web sites and books to familiarize yourself with the solar system.
- Print the Planetary Travel Brochure (PDF).
What to Do
- Read aloud The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System by Joanna Cole. Use the illustrations in the book to review the basic elements of the visual arts (color, shape, line).
- Prepare a planet chart on the chalkboard or dry-erase board to organize the information students will gather about the planets.
- Divide the class into pairs or small groups and assign a planet to each. Give students 20 to 30 minutes to research their planets. Ask them to record the following:
- Distance from the sun
- Rotation period
- Revolution period
- Composition (rock or gas)
- Number and names of moons
- Special features
- When students have finished researching their planets, fill in the planet chart and discuss what students learned about the planets.
- Review the story and planet chart from Session 1. Ask students to consider which planet they would visit if they could, and why they would choose that planet.
- Show sample travel brochures and explain that they will be creating travel brochures for their selected planets. Briefly discuss the techniques used in brochures to create excitement or interest in a particular destination.
- Introduce elements of the visual arts, such as color, shape, and line. Discuss how these elements may be used to convey information about their planets, for example, a color palette that represents the different planetary temperatures, curved lines to depict rotation, etc.
- Demonstrate how to fold paper/cardstock into thirds. Then have students create their brochures, which should include 8 to 12 interesting facts about their planets. Provide additional time for the brochure design, if needed.
- Display the brochures or ask students to present their brochures to one another in pairs or small groups.
- As an extension, consider having students create an advertising campaign for each planet, including a radio/TV commercial, billboard, and/or magazine ad.
Outcomes to Look For
- Student participation and engagement
- An understanding of the basic elements of the visual arts
- Brochures that reflect accurate information about the planets
Theatrical Economics (K-3)
Students read If You Give a Pig a Pancake, identify the goods and services in the story, act out scenes, and create their own scripts.
Duration: 45 minutes
- Identify and distinguish between goods and services
- Use improvisation and characterization to depict characters from a story
- Create and perform an original script
- Copy of If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff
- Chalkboard, dry-erase board, or large easel with paper
- Writing and drawing materials (paper, pencils, markers, crayons)
- Read If You Give A Pig A Pancake.
- Review some of the basic elements of drama, including characterization and improvisation.
- Create a performance space (for example, tape can mark a "stage").
What to Do
- Read aloud If You Give a Pig a Pancake.
- Ask students to recall the sequence of the story. List all the things the pig asks for. Refer back to the book, if necessary.
- Explain how some of the things the pig wants are goods (or items, such as pancakes or syrup) and some are services (or things people do, such as playing music or taking pictures).
- In pairs, ask students to assume the characters of the pig and the child. Acting as the narrator, read a line from the book and let students act it out, improvising their own dialogue. (For example, the pig might tell the child why she wants the next good or service: Please give me some syrup—the pancake will taste better.)
- Pause after each line and allow the audience to identify the pig's request as a good or a service.
- Divide students into groups and ask them to create a script for a new play, If You Give a _____ a _____. Allow students to decide who the main character will be and what he or she will ask for.
- Ask students to come up with at least eight things that the main character asks for.
- As an additional challenge, tell students that the main character should alternate between requesting goods and services, or request all goods or all services.
- Ask each group to perform its play for the class.
Outcomes to Look For
- Student participation and engagement
- An understanding of the difference between goods and services
- Creative scripts that reflect an understanding of goods and services
- Performances that include improvisation and characterization
Technology Tip for this practice
Use desktop publishing to design and publish brochures. Students can use word- processing software to write articles, scanners to recreate images, and digital photography to download pictures into documents.
Web resources for this practice.
Research Summary: The National Standards describes integrating the arts across art forms (visual arts and music, music and theatre, music and dance, theatre and dance, etc.) as well as a way to understand other subject areas: "Be able to relate various types of arts knowledge and skills within and across arts disciplines, and apply to other disciplines as relevant (i.e. integrated or project basis, 2003, No. 5)." The issue of integration and integrated strategies emerges as a theme in much of the afterschool research. Miller describes project-based learning as an effective method of developing problem-solving skills, critical thinking, ability to make connections across academic disciplines, and cooperative teamwork and planning (2003). Ingram and Seashore (2003) in their study of Minneapolis Schools found a significant relationship between arts integrated instruction and improved student learning and achievement. This relationship was more powerful for disadvantaged learners, and helped to close the achievement gap. The relationship of arts integration and reading achievement was stronger for students in free and reduced lunch programs and English language learner programs. They state that their findings show it was not the mere presence of arts integration but the intensity or persistent use of it that related to gains.
Print resources for this practice.
- Miller, B.M. (2003a). Critical Hours: Afterschool Programs and Educational Success. Nellie Mae Education Foundation.
- Ingram, D. and K. R. Seashore (2003). The Arts for Academic Achievement: Summative Evaluation Report. The Annenberg Foundation and Minneapolis Public Schools.
- National Standards for Arts Education (2003). Retrived from the web:www.ed.gov/pubs/ArtsStandards.html