During the last few years, I have been one very lucky art teacher! I get to co-teach exciting lessons with classroom teachers during nine week arts integration blocks. In our HOT School, these are called HOT Blocks, once a week sessions with lessons designed so all students, and especially those in need of academic support, can learn through multiple intelligences and the arts in addition to conventional methods.
My colleagues and I sometimes find it a bit challenging to plan integrated language arts lessons for kindergarten students, especially at the beginning of the year. We want all of the students to progress in writing without frustration. We have found that it is helpful for these young students to start with creating art, and after the experience of creating, the students write about their experience or about the project itself.
One lesson that has been successful early on in the school year is practicing writing letters and words in different media. Allowing young students to write using iPads is very exciting for them and helps with letter formation and word recognition. Students can also write in finger paint on trays, with different color markers and with a clay tool in a slab of clay. Using different media helps cement letter and word formation for young children. Let’s face it, using paper and pencil all the time is not very exciting for a five year old child!
Another arts integration lesson that helps students practice their writing is creating a sentence with a simple sentence frame. After reviewing the sight words “I” and “see,” kindergarten students write about where they have seen primary colors. This lesson brings learning objectives from the classroom and the art room together. I was thrilled when Quintin remembered what he learned in art about Mondrian. If you don’t teach Kindergarteners, you might have noticed: It can be a little difficult to read what these young students have written, especially at the beginning of the year! One technique I learned from kindergarten teachers is to have the student read their work to you, then you can write in any corrections or words that might be missing. This really helped me to understand what they were trying to say.
Clay is always a big hit in art class, and sometimes it is just the thing to use in our HOT Block. Many students in kindergarten were having difficulty with the difference between 2D and 3D shapes: circles and spheres, triangles and cones. So we created them out of clay! Making flat shapes and 3D shapes helped many students grasp this concept. After the students created all of their shapes and forms, they wrote about it. Ashton did a great job, you can definitely see how he hears the word “sphere” in his writing and drawing!
A triangle and a cone
Writing by Ashton
Young children can really benefit from arts integration lessons. Manipulating materials helps young students understand difficult concepts and the world around them. What kinds of arts integration lessons can you try to help your students understand more deeply this year?
Amy Traggianese is an elementary visual arts educator and has been an art essentialist at a Connecticut Higher Order Thinking (HOT) School since 2001. A former kindergarten and first grade teacher, she has over 25 years of arts integration experience. Amy specializes in integrating language arts, math, science and technology into the art curriculum. She presents at local and national conferences and at HOT School Summer Institutes. Amy is also an active educator voice on Twitter, helps to facilitate #CTedu on Tuesday nights, and loves to connect with other educators through social media.
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