So, 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. However, in my own experience, it does! Imagine being 5, or 6, or 7, and having to write in drab pencil every day. 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.
“Write” your letters, words, numbers or number facts with colored modeling clay! Using this medium helps with letter and number formation, while helping develop those little hand and finger muscles. I show the students how to warm up the clay, and roll it to make coils. Then, 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.
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’re 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 this way!
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!)
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.