Who Has Time for Art???? Ideas for Incorporating Art in the Classroom

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Who Has Time For Art? Ideas for Incorporating Art into the CurriculumIdeas for Adding Art to the Core Content Areas

I love art projects!  I am crafty by nature and if time and teaching standards were no issue we’d do art all the time.  But alas, in the real world, my world, teaching standards (TEKS
in Texas – very similar to Common Core standards in other states) control what I teach.  But also part of my real world, is funding cuts that led to no more art teachers at the elementary level in my district.  So teaching art is part of my job.  I love it but sometimes it can be tricky to fit it all in.  The best way I have found is to tie our art lessons
into the core curriculum.   Occasionally, usually tied to a holiday, will I do an art project just for the fun of it.  However, 99% of the time I tie it to a core area and I truly love how nicely it all ties together.  Today I  want to share a few ideas with you on how I incorporate art into the core curriculum.

One of the easiest ways to incorporate art is with writing.  I love adding a writing component to almost everything that my students make.  We have done everything from creative writing to expository writing.  Here’s one of my favorite Christmas time activities in which the students have to use problem solving skills to explain how they will get Santa unstuck from their chimney!  You can find Santa’s Stuck Writing Craftivity {HERE}.

Santa's Stuck Writing Craftivity
I wod tikol Satus fet bi climen up the chimne. (He would) wigol daon the chimne.
In case you don’t read Kindergarten: I would tickle Santa’s feel by climbing up the chimney.  (He would) wiggle down the chimney
Santa's Stuck Writing Craftivity by Teaching in Blue Jeans
Wve ef Sat wus suc ni the chnine I wou po eyoo and wdr.  I wod pro wooy in th chin th chnine.
What is Santa was stuck in the chimney – I would pour oil and water.  I would pour oil in the chimney the chimney (good start at repetition for poetry 🙂

I also love this wintery themed Snowman writing.  Living in Texas we know a lot more about melting snowmen that we do building snowmen.  So we had lots of fun with this Melted Snowman Writing and Craft.  For this (and most art projects) I model the entire project then let my kiddos loose to do it themselves.  Here’s a little slideshow I did of this art and writing project.

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One of the reasons that I love incorporating art into science and social studies is because some of these concepts are just downright abstract and tough for a 5 year old to understand.  Any time I can allow my kids to feel it,  manipulate it, or create it I feel that it really helps them understand the concept better.  A couple months ago we were studying Texas and landforms.  I decided that this was the perfect time to incorporate some art into social studies.  We made 3D Landform maps.

3D Landforms Map by Teaching in Blue Jeans

3D Landforms Map by Teaching in Blue Jeans
Here’s a side version of the same map so you can see the 3D features.

In this project, the students used salt dough to create the mountains and hills.  We later painted them with water colors and then glued them on.  We also used water colors to paint on the rivers, lakes and the Gulf of Mexico.  We also added salt to the paint of the ocean to help the students remember that the ocean is salt water and the rivers and lakes are fresh water.  We glued dirt on for the desert and went out to our playground (aka empty field) and gather grass for the plains.  We made a huge mess putting this project together but the final result was incredible!  The students were not only proud of their maps, but they know their landforms!

Like Social Studies, Science is another great way incorporate art into a study.  I like to do art projects as culminating activities as we finish a unit.  This way my students have a solid knowledge base on which to create their art project.

In science we recently studied the life cycle of butterflies.  As a culminating activity we made symmetrical butterflies using watercolor.  This was a great way to add a little “bonus learning” as I call it.  After looking at lots of photographs of butterflies we discussed symmetry.  I modeled how to make the butterfly symmetrical by laying the wings side by side and then let the students get to work!

Painting in math and science by Teaching in Blue Jeans

Their final butterflies were so beautiful.  We finished the life cycle unit by writing about the life cycle of a butterfly.

Butterflies and symmetry by Teaching in Blue Jeans
Butterflys and Symmetry adding art to math

4.  ART & MATH

Yes, it is even possible to incorporate art into math.  Some of my favorite ways to do this are by having the students use art to create an addition or subtraction story problem.  Just last week, we made these adorable frogs to illustrate our understanding of addition!

Spring Addition Sentences by Teaching in Blue Jeans

Art in math illustrating addition sentences

Another one of my favorite math art activities is having the students make a scale to show their understanding of heavier and lighter.  This is done at the end of our study on weight so the students have already had lots of hands on practice weighing different items and using a scale.  They already understand that the heavier item makes the scale push down and the lighter item goes up.  I model how to create simple scale and then send the students off with paper and magazines.

Finding math in magazines

I love how this project allows me to check this student’s understanding
of the math concept even though they are struggling with writing.

Incorporating art into the core curriculum doesn’t have to mean big projects.  It doesn’t have to be time consuming and YOU don’t have to be an artist.  I mentioned at the beginning that I’m crafty by nature, but artist I am not!

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