Art and Education

Integrated Art is Important in Classroom Experience
Posted on 12/12/2019

Written by:  Rene Carroll and inspired by CES Teachers

Carson Elementary School is a shining example of how the arts can be incorporated in classroom curriculum to help deepen the connection in many areas of study.
“Art is integrated by all teachers to help students understand the principles they read about or observe firsthand,” explained Sarah Marino, Carson Elementary Principal. “Students learn about the history of the United States and cultures from all over the world through our strong music program. Poetry is a special unit in both the fourth and fifth grades as part of their literature program, CKLA. Math concepts are translated into visual patterns. Students paint, draw, collage, and fold paper to help develop all their talents and to enrich their lives.”  CES art project
Third grade teacher, Ashley Ferguson, integrates art with science, literature and critical thinking in her classroom. “Art is an important and expressive component in lessons that connect student learning in a hands-on way,” she said. “Around Thanksgivings, my students worked on building a turkey using a cup, paper, and strings as their primary tools. This opportunity allowed them to let their creativity run wild.”
For perfectionists this task was slightly daunting, Ferguson explained. “It forced them to use critical thinking to figure out the perfect way for them to apply the paper onto the cup for the turkey’s body, without the paper bowing. Furthermore, this art project was not merely a fun Thanksgiving project, it had deeper roots into our curriculum around gravity and forces.”
Two holes were cut in the top of the cup, where the strings went through. Students learned that the “weight” force of the cup along with gravity kept the cup down in a resting state. But once the students pulled the strings the “lift” force was stronger than the “weight” force which brought the cup shooting up the string, allowing the turkey cup to take flight.
Origami in the classroomThird grade students of Sarah Brown were introduced to the ancient art of Japanese Origami to integrate art with culture, history, language, math, spatial reasoning and fine motor skills.  “Origami is challenging and rewarding,” said Brown. “One project surrounded the story of Sadako and the Thousand Cranes. We used geometry language and followed directions to create a Japanese symbol of friendship, hope and kind wishes.”  As a student of international studies and Japanese language and culture, Brown looks for ways to integrate art from around the world into her classroom instruction. 
Sharon Campbell, special education teacher at CES, integrates the arts in her reading curriculum, CKLA.  From the book Native American Stories, she introduced art projects like weaving and plays for students to perform.  She also incorporated other literature to add to their knowledge and experience with different cultures.  “This is how I like to supplement or add to our curriculum,” Campbell explained.  “Students will end this unit with writing their own story.”
Fifth grade teacher, Jeff Griffiths, integrates art and science in his classroom.  For instance, he challenges his students to create drawings to demonstrate their knowledge of scientific ideas such as the life cycle of a salmon.
Fourth grade teacher, Alaina Mead, uses art to let her students express their feelings toward the natural world around them.  They completed several projects using various media to capture the beauty of the season.
Other recent examples of school-wide connection to art was a PTA-sponsored assembly featuring three African musicians who shared their culture, music and humor with the students.  Third grade teacher, Linda Ostergard, used the assembly to allow students to write paragraphs describing the assembly and artwork depicting what they remembered most vividly. Additionally, as a show of respect for local Veterans, many students recently created paintings and paper collages of poppies, inspired by the poem “In Flander’s Field” by Liet.-Col. John McCrae.
“Art defines us as humans,” said Brown.  “Art provides us with inspiration, beauty and comfort… it fills both the artist and the viewer with joy.” And at CES, art enriches the learning experience in a wide array of subjects.