Arts Integration Lesson: Life Cycle Tracking

By | 2018-01-15T08:00:45+00:00 November 18th, 2015|

Grades: 3-5

Content Areas: Science and Theater

In today’s free arts integration lesson, we’re taking a look at metamorphosis and transformations.  Many students cover the idea of metamorphosis in grades K-2 by studying butterflies – how they transform from caterpillar to butterfly.  But when you look at the new Next Generation Science Standards in more detail, the idea of true identification, observation and description of the life cycle doesn’t happen until third grade.

One of the interesting things about students in grades 3-5 who are working on the life cycle is the way they tend to “feel” for the animal.  It’s as though they can characterize exactly what each stage means.  Ask a third grader about the process of a tadpole dropping its tale and many of them will say either “ouch” or “yes!” as if they are finally free of something themselves.

That’s why the drama process of Thought Tracking is so helpful during the kind of lesson.  By identifying the stages of transformation for an animal, and then acting out what the animal is thinking or feeling during each stage of the transformation, they are making a natural connection to how the life cycle internally feels as a part of their thought process.

In today’s lesson we’re pairing the identification and classification of the frog life cycle with this drama process of thought tracking to create a performance piece of the stages of frog development.  I can’t wait to hear what happens in your classroom when you try this!  Be sure to come back and leave a comment when you do.

Life Cycle Tracking


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Susan Riley is the founder and President of 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.

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