Overview: Integrating Math, Music and Visual Art through patterns from the Nutcracker and various art pieces.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve focused primarily on the connections between ELA and the arts. These connections always come naturally to me. Even though as a music teacher, math is integrated daily in my classroom. Today, I’d like to step outside my comfort zone to share a lesson plan on how one of the standards for mathematical practice can be integrated through several arts contents. This practice can be integrated into the arts classroom easily, while maintaining the integrity of the arts themselves, and inversely, the arts can be integrated into the general classroom to support this practice in math content. This math and art lesson plan developed for kindergarten, can be adapted for other grade levels by choosing various patterns integrating math and the art.


Integrating Math and the Arts through Pattern


Math: Standard for Mathematical Practice 7: Look for and make use of structure.

Music: MU:Pr4.2.K.a: With guidance, explore and demonstrate awareness of music contrasts (such as high/low, loud/soft, same/different) in a variety of music selected for performance.

Dance: DA:Cr2.1.K.a: Improvise a dance that has a beginning, middle, and end.


Whiteboard or interactive board

Recording of  Trepak (“Russian Dance”) from The Nutcracker

Attribute blocks

Visual art examples


Draw a variety of AB patterns (AB, ABA, AABA) on the board using shapes and/or colors, etc. Ask students to identify how to name these patterns, and the attributes that make each one a pattern.


Explain that patterns integrating math and the art can happen in the world around us. Ask students to think of examples of AB patterns, and write examples on the board. Look around the classroom to find examples as well. Give each student a set of attribute blocks and have them practice arranging them in various AB patterns. Allow them to also explore creating ABA, AABA, ABB, etc.

Display examples of visual art from Google Art Project (links above), and have students create patterns with attribute blocks to match patterns integrating math and the art in the artwork.


  1. Display a list of movements for the class, such as walk, skip, leap, march, etc. Ask students to create movement patterns based on the AB patterns that were displayed in the pre-assessment. Choose two different movements for each pattern (e.g., create an ABA pattern with skipping and marching movements).
  1. Listen to “Trepak” from The Nutcracker. Ask students to notice elements of the music:
    1. Is this music high or low? (high in the A section, lower in the B section)
    2. Did you hear any patterns integrating math and the art in the music? (repeated rhythms and melodies)
    3. Did you hear any changes? (slight change in rhythm and instrumentation for B section).
  1. During a second listening of “Trepak,” guide students to an awareness of the ABA pattern in the music (note: this piece might be expanded to AABA pattern for older students).
    1. What changes in the B section? (slight change in rhythm and instrumentation for B section).
  1. During a third listening, ask students to “map” the form of the song using attribute blocks as they hear each new section. For example, they might put down a big blue triangle at the beginning of the song, another big blue triangle on the repeat of the A section, put down a small yellow circle when they hear the B section come in, and another big blue triangle during the final A section. Informally assess which students are recognizing the changes in the music and putting down their blocks at the correct time.
  1. Divide students into groups. Ask each group to choreograph an ABA movement piece to go along with “Trepak.” Ask students to choose movements that will reflect the mood of the music. There should be a clear distinction between movements for A and B. 


Did students recognize AB patterns in surrounding environments?

Were students able to construct ABA patterns with manipulatives?

Do student movements reflect an ABA pattern, and do these movements align with the ABA form of the music?


 Allow each group time to present their dance sequence along with the music. After each group’s performance, have other students discuss how their movements demonstrated an ABA form or patterns integrating math and the art.


Watch the “Trepak” from Disney’s Fantasia. How did the animators demonstrate ABA form in the cartoon?


Have students create a piece of artwork that has an ABA patterns integrating math and the art.