Connecting art and math through money can be a challenging task.  So when two teachers in our Arts Integration Certification Program tackled this with a genius arts integration lesson, I had to share it with you.

Karen McGraw and Alyssa Pilarcik created this 2nd grade lesson to teach both the value of money and the value of art.  Both are topics that garner a lot of discussion and inspire questions like, “why does this artwork cost so much and this one cost so little?” and “how does money get its value?”.  Even though this is meant as a 2nd grade lesson, questions like these are exciting even for older students.

Lesson Outline

The lesson starts out with direct instruction of money values for quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies and even dollar bills.  It’s important that students understand these values and how to add and subtract them.

We then have students look at various artworks that have sold for different amounts of money.  Have a discussion about why each work sold for the amount that it did.  Then give students different roles (like a museum curator, a homeowner, an office owner looking for display paintings, etc) and ask them what they think the value SHOULD be for that artwork, based on the role they have.  Does this change the value of the artwork based on who is looking at it?

Lesson Extension

Once students have this value concept in mind, they can create a piece of artwork of their own for a specific kind of buyer.  They can then pitch this work to their “clients” and try to get it to sell.  The student “buyers” each have a certain amount of money to purchase a variety of works.  They need to select pieces based on their value and use the correct amount of money in their purchase.

Often, when we look at arts integration lessons, we see that one content is really “serving” the other, making it false integration.  But in this lesson, Karen and Alyssa have really ensured that both the art content and the math content have equal weight.  Enjoy this lesson!  And for more lessons like this, visit our Arts Integration Lessons page.

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