When a teacher hears about arts integration, they probably think of the general classroom teacher embedding artistic experiences into their classroom lessons. Then, they may think of other teachers: special education, ELL, reading specialist, etc. But arts integration can be implemented into the art teacher’s classroom too, creating rich, meaningful experiences.  Let’s look at some ways to integrate movement, music and poetry into visual art!

Movement –

When we look at art, we can notice the movement of it. The lines that are drawn, sculpted, or painted mimic movement in space. As I sit here in my office, I can see the various lines in paintings I have on my walls. Some flow, some rush, some wiggle, some hop; some reach out, some pull in, but they are all dancing right there on the page.

This summer, I instructed an elementary art teacher who took one of my courses. One of her integrated lessons was for students to draw and move as different lines.  As we experimented with her lesson idea, we drew lines on a page and moved as those same lines across the floor. Sometimes we would move and others in the class would draw the lines that were created, other times students would move as the line that others would draw. I participated in this lesson and it was a wonderful way to make the lines come alive.

Years ago was part of another class where a group was challenged to transform a painting into a dance or series of movements over time. Take this painting, Moon Rising by Derek DeYoung.   You can see the movement and imagine what a small group of students may do to showcase the movement in the painting.

Many students need to feed their kinesthetic impulses and in this way, students can start to make bodily connections with the art they study and create.


If you think of music as anything from a beautifully orchestrated symphony to the light breeze heard through the leaves on the trees, the possibilities of music integration with art is as endless as the noises we can hear. Our focus here will be on the creation of art from music and then music from art.

Listening to certain pieces of music can elicit different emotions that can then be illustrated on paper using a variety of mediums. You can also choose certain pieces for their different musical qualities and have students paint or sketch as a reaction to the music. In this way students may discover new techniques of putting a medium to paper. For example the beginning staccato notes of Haydn’s Surprise Symphony may move an artist’s hand to make short strokes, while the occasional legato would invite a sweeping movement.

It can work in the opposite manner also.   Take the Moon Rising painting again and listen in your own mind to the music or sounds that may go along with this painting. You may hear certain instruments or vocalizations. Students could use their bodies (body percussion) to create a series of sounds or even a short short piece to accompany the painting. You could also borrow some simple hand instruments from the music teacher and give students the option of using those.  This would also be a great time to discuss color and texture and to think about what sounds would go with the various elements in the painting.


Poetry is a wonderful way to reflect on art whether it be an original piece or one students are studying. Brainstorming words that can be used to describe the movement, color and mood of the art can be an inspirational springboard for the poetry. I like to tell my students to “jump into the painting” and move around inside; to use all their senses to explore and experience all parts of the artwork. Once they “jump back out” they are able to discuss the artwork with more detail and can then begin to reflect on it in poem form. (Keep in mind that not all poetry needs to rhyme or have a metered rhythm. Some of the best poems are free form and flowing.)

Here’s an example of a haiku poem one 6th grade student wrote in reflection of this painting Pink Chant by Maura McDonnell.

Lost in red velvet

Like veils, they hide me away

Backing up, I rest


Integrating the arts is more than utilizing the arts to help teach math concepts. True arts integration occurs when art forms are used to not only enrich student learning, but help learning come alive. With visual art, other arts can provide students the opportunities to experience art forms in ways that deepen their understanding of mediums, techniques and interpretation. A true artist is able to make these connections with art and allowing for these types of experiences in the art classroom will help to make great artists!

This article was originally written as a guest post for Jessica Balsley’s website Art of Education.  She is an art teacher who provides many resources and ideas for other teachers interested and invested in arts education.  I decided to stay with my focus on arts integration and cater to her major audience – art teachers.  The post is no longer available on her site, so I wanted to revise and share it here.  ~EMP