So often we think that arts integration is relegated to school for our kids, but in reality “arts integration” lives all around us. Anytime a child makes a connection between their world and an art form, they are practicing the skills required for arts integration. As a parent, one of the joys I receive is watching my child play with the arts. Many parents I know take their children to choir, enroll them in an art class, or climb in their cars to go to dance class each week. These are all fantastic ways to ensure that our kids are receiving extra arts experiences. But what about being able to integrate their world at home through the arts? Enter a fun new way to approach the arts at home: Family Integrated Arts Night!
In this approach, parents and children get to participate in an art project together, which also happens to focus on another area your child is focused on either in school or at home. This helps facilitate important connective experiences between family members, to build an awareness of your own child’s growth, and is simply something that is fun! We did this the other night in our own household and it was a wonderful way for me to connect with my daughter and build our art skills together.
How to Create Your Own Family Integrated Arts Night
What if you’re not “artistic”? That’s okay! Pick an area that you are comfortable with to model an arts technique for your child. Maybe you’re a great singer. Or maybe you like to doodle. Maybe you just like to dance around the room. Whatever it is, use it and let go! Your child will love doing something that you love.
In our case, my daughter loves to draw. I’m terrible at this, but I do know how to use a stippling technique (using dots to create a shape or picture) and it was something new for my daughter. We started by me asking her what story she wanted to tell on her drawing. She said “I want to make something about fall” and so we began with this pretty tree…
Notice that I wrote a sentence about the tree around the shape of the tree. This helped us talk about the tree’s shape and what trees do with their leaves in the fall.
Next, you want to choose something you know that your child is working on either at school or home. This might be an academic concept, or it could be something that you’re working on with behavior or social/emotional development. For us, I know that my daughter is working on tracing letters, and reading sight words. I asked her what sight words she knew about fall. She told me “fall, down, and see”. So we took her tree drawing and created a phrase that said “see the leaves are falling down, down, down”. I wrote the words and she traced them.
Finally, let your child’s imagination run wild. Ask questions about what else could be included in what your child is working on and how they could be included that make sense to the overall theme. My daughter decided to make this into a fall carnival with a roller coaster and fireworks. We talked about what other media would make sense to show fireworks and decided on some confetti. It also gave her a chance to work with other arts materials and tools, such as the glue stick, and to use it with precision.
With a little bit of planning and time, a family integrated arts night can be an easy way to connect with your child and increase their understanding of academic concepts at the same time.
How do you connect with your children? What other ways do you enjoy spending time with your kids? We’d love to hear your ideas!
Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.