ColorfulSo, you want to do some arts integration with your young students, but don’t know where to start? Do you think you are not creative enough to increase student achievement through the arts? Well, don’t believe that for one minute! Here are some easy ideas to do with your whole class or with small groups:

Write sight words with marker! Yes, I know this sounds way too easy to even work, but in my experience, it does! Just imagine if you had to write in drab pencil- Every. Single. Day. And you are age 5, 6 or 7. Boring, right? I had a small group of first graders SO excited about their sight words on drawing paper, they called it a “word wallet” and carried them around in their pockets. And, their teachers reported that this helped them practice and remember more sight words! Awesome.


A “word wallet”


Writing sight words is more fun in color!


“Write” your letters, words, numbers or number facts with colored modeling clay! Using this medium will help with letter and number formation, and help develop those little hand and finger muscles. I show the students how to warm up the clay, then roll it to make coils. Students use the coils to make their letters and numbers. It helps to have an alphabet or number line by each student to minimize reversals.


First grade students love using modeling clay to form letters and numerals.


Use washable finger paint! No? Oh, I know what you are thinking: WAY too messy for a classroom! Well, you can have the finger paint without the mess by putting it inside two gallon size plastic zipper bags. Lay it flat and write letters, words or numbers on it with your finger!

Or, if you are really daring you can put a tablespoon of finger paint on a tray or directly on the table for students to “write” in it. I have done this on trays in the art room while co-teaching with a classroom teacher. With two of us, it was easy to check everyone’s work and easy to clean up because my art room has four sinks. (Yes, four!) I showed the students how to put their tray down in the bottom of the sink and scrub it with a sponge, then scrub their hands with the sponge. It took about ten minutes to clean up. If I were in a regular classroom I would probably do this in small groups, it would be much more manageable!

Finger paint math

The number lines are laminated, for obvious reasons!


Have you used art materials to help students learn? Using different mediums can help students retain many different concepts. Please share your ideas below, I’d love to try some new colorful ideas with my students. (See, I told you you could do it!)