(This is Part 1 of a 2 Part Story!)

I did it!

I finally got a job at my dream STEAM school and everything was going great until the principal approached me to schedule my formal observation. She wants to see a math lesson.


I cannot blow this. We just started fractions (2nd Grade) and it has been a hard sell to get these kids excited about how parts make up a whole.

How do I make a good impression and keep the kids engaged?

Arts Integration!

What is Arts Integration?

Arts integration can be at the classroom or school site level. In the most general sense, it is shifting the curriculum to provide a solid art program by integrating visual arts, dance, music, theater & media arts into the curriculum. It is not about monthly or occasional art projects or crafts that tie in with a lesson here or there.

STEAM is a popular arts movement in schools because it specifically integrates STEM topics with the arts, is engaging for kids and helps puts the creativity back in teaching for teachers. STEAM integrates Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics into daily learning. For me STEAM is a win, win, win situation!

Why is Arts Integration Important in the Classroom?

I integrate the arts into lessons because kids NEED it!

It is developmentally appropriate for children to spend large amounts of time engaged in the arts early in their academic career. Kids need dramatic play, dance, music, art and even crafts.

Monthly arts & crafts and regular color, cut & glue are all important early childhood skills as they develop basic fine motor skills, but are not always true arts integration.  The skills that art helps kids master is the foundation of their academic career. It is a catalyst for language development, self esteem (children do better when they feel better), and life-long learning.

What is school wide Arts Integration?

School wide arts integration is where the entire school participates in an arts integrated program and sets aside time and money for professional development and the supplies necessary for school wide arts integration.

School Site Example:

Seneca Academy is a K-5 elementary school and has been an Arts Integration school for 35 years. They sum up very well why arts integration is so important.   Here are a couple of highlights that tie in with STEAM specifically:

  1. Working in the arts helps learners to develop creative problem-solving skills.
  2. Arts experiences boost critical thinking, teaching students to take the time to be more careful and thorough in how they observe the world.
  3. The arts provide challenges for learners at all levels.

Can Art Help Students Learn?

Students learn best when they are interested and actively engaged. Art is naturally engaging for children.

  • You get to make a mess, and learn how to clean it up.
  • Self expression: You get to express yourself. (Even in a guided art lesson they all turn out uniquely awesome.)
  • Students feel a sense of ownership and appreciation in a job well done.
  • Problem Solving: I always tell my kids art has only one rule… “There are no mistakes in art. You don’t have a mistake you have a problem.  Let’s solve it!”
  • Build fine motor skills.  The hands require at least 8 YEARS to begin develop the muscles necessary for fine motor work like, “neat” handwriting, cursive and extended writing projects.

How do you Integrate Art into the Classroom?

Not all schools are able to commit to arts integration.  My solution is to integrate the arts into my classroom. My formula for integrating art into the classroom is asking and answering a series of questions about the lesson (or unit) I am going to teach (or collaborate with others to teach).

  • What subjects naturally integrate with the topic?
  • Where can the subject/objective be found in real life?
  • How does art compliment this?
  • What standards/subjects do I need/want to teach with this lesson?
  • How can art compliment the standards?
  • Which artistic expression would best compliment this project? (class play, role play, Reader’s Theater, music, dance, visual art, off-site enrichment, etc.)
  • What are my student (learner) objectives?
  • What are my teacher objectives?
  • Is this a collaborative project (students or teachers)?

So, arts integration it is!  Tune in next week to see what lesson I devised for my observation.  It includes math, technology, drama and . . . pizza!


Seneca Academy https://www.senecaacademy.org/10-reasons-why-integrating-art-is-important-in-school/

Kid Sense: Fine Motor Developmental Chart https://childdevelopment.com.au/resources/child-development-charts/fine-motor-developmental-chart/

What is True Arts Integration?

About the Author: Serena has an MA. Ed. In Curriculum Development & Instruction and has been teaching K-3 for over 12 years.
She teaches part-time at a wonderful STEAM Based Elementary school in Ca., homeschools preschool and is a blogger at www.mudpiesandmanis.com where she shares with families how they have fun learning at home.