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Arts Across the Curriculum, Grades K-5

Integrate Music and Visual Arts with Social Studies, Math & Science

Found In: arts, preK-2, 3-5

C. P. Snow described the sciences and humanities as two intellectual cultures in The Two Cultures. E. O. Wilson described how they could be reconciled in Consilience. As the following lessons and activities demonstrate, the sciences and humanities have never been exclusive realms.

Lesson Plans

Social Studies

A Story on a Vase
Students in grades K-5 examine a scene depicting Herakles (Hercules) and the Hydra on a black-figure water jar. They then read Greek myths and choose one to depict in the style of the vase painter.

Egyptian Symbols: What story do they tell? (PDF icon PDF, 34 KB, 4 pgs.)
Students in grade 3 demonstrate their understanding of symbolism in Egyptian art by creating a stele with model magic.

Chops and Axes — A Jazz Talk Show
Students in grades 4-8 explore the lives of various jazz musicians.

Mathematics

Elements of Visual Art
Students in grades K-2 identify the elements of art (line, shape, and texture) in works of art and will sort them into categories.

Tap Your Feet
Students in grades preK-1 practice following a pattern and become familiar with the concept of beat in music.

Number Line Dancing
Students in grades 3-5 identify the position of whole numbers on a number line with various intervals.

Science

Capturing Light: The Science of Photography
Students in grades K-12 create their own simple cameras to understand how artists use and manipulate light to capture images in photographs.

Insect Anatomy and the Scientist as Illustrator (Beginning Level)
Students in grades K-12 classify the plants and insects depicted in a painting.

Experimental Music
Students in grades in grades 5-8 learn how differences pitch, rhythm, tempo, timbre, melody, and harmony can create differences in expression and feeling.

We’ve Got Rhythm
Students in grades 5-8 experiment with rhythm and create their own syncopated and non-syncopated rhythms using their hands, feet, simple rhythm instruments and/or an online interactive featuring animal sounds.

Good Vibrations!
Students in grades 5-8 experiment with modulating various familiar sounds through a 4-band graphic equalizer.

Curriculum Units

Social Studies

All Curricula and Guides (Education at the Getty)
36 units and guides, many perfect for teaching visual arts and social studies.

  • When Impressionism Was a Dirty Word (Education at the Getty)
    Lessons for elementary and secondary teachers to prompt classroom discussion and learning of the history of Impressionist painting.
  • Landscapes, Classical to Modern (Education at the Getty)
    Lessons for elementary and secondary students can examine the distinct ways artists have portrayed the world around them.
  • Historical Witness, Social Messaging (Education at the Getty)
    Students in grades K-12 explore how art can influence social change and increasing awareness among individuals and governments.
  • Gods, Heroes and Monsters Curriculum (Education at the Getty) Lesson Plans
    K-12 students investigate ancient Greek and Roman mythology in Western art and literature.

Integrating the Arts, The Walters Art Museum
Twenty lesson plans for K-12 integrate visual art into social studies, science, language arts, and math.

ArtsWork
K-12 arts education materials for visual arts, dance, music and drama/theater in formats useful for teachers, students and parents.

Mathematics

Music and Math
Lessons for grades 3-12 illustrate how math concepts underlie important ideas in music theory.

Science

Art and Nature
K-12
students use works of art investigate connections between art and science.

Art & Science Curriculum | The J. Paul Getty Museum
Ten lesson plans for grades K-12 address the science of art production, conservation, and scholarship.

Activities

Real vs. Virtual: Examining Works of Art Online
11 visual art activities using Google’s Art Project that can be used across the K-12 curriculum.

Math Forum: Symmetry and Pattern: The Art of Oriental Carpets
Students in grades 3-8 learn how symmetry offers one approach to analyzing patterns in Oriental carpets.

Hearing and Seeing Harmonics
This activity shows students in grades 3-8 how instruments vibrate in fractions called the harmonic series.

Art Safari
Students in grades 3-5 explore animals and art.

Multimedia

The Artist’s Toolkit
Students in grades K-5 explore the tools artists use — line, color, and balance — to create art.

Integrating the Arts: Interactive Resources for K-12 Art Education
Interactives require Adobe Flash and Acrobat Reader.

The Music Instinct
Three tools that let students K-12 explore musical concepts of chords, frequency, and rhythm.

The Art Zone | National Gallery of Art
Students in grades K-12 create original works art with a variety of online interactives.

  • Mobile — add branches, shapes, and colors to this virtual mobile
  • Cubits — build a geometric sculpture
  • Diamonds — 3 activities experiment with diamonds
  • River Run — orchestrate a flowing array of colorful shapes and patterns
  • Wallovers — create a mural design with colors, patterns, and brushstrokes
  • 3-D Twirler — design and texturize three-dimensional shapes

Leonardo da Vinci | Multimedia Zone
Students in grades 3-12 can explore perspective, vanishing point and sfumato.

Mr. Picasso Head
Students in grades 3-12 use line, shape, and color to create works of art.

Books

Check local libraries for these excellent resources.

  • Creating Meaning through Literature and the Arts: An Integrated Resource for Classroom Teachers
    by Claudia E. Cornett
    Prentice Hall, 3rd edition (paperback, 2006)
  • Musi-matics!: Music and Arts Integrated Math Enrichment Lessons
    by Karin K. Nolan
    Rowman & Littlefield Education (paperback, 2009)

last updated: February 5, 2014

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Teaching Strategies

The Arts Are Essential

Arts programs are frequently the first to be cut when school budgets are tightened. Preserve them by integrating them across the curriculum.

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