Students Learn Through the Arts: Cross-Curriculum

By Nancy Gavrish, Elementary Art Instructor

I still remember the day my first grade teacher shared with the class the cover I made for an assignment. I do not remember the teacher’s name, the assignment, or what grade I received, but the memory of the achievement and recognition is still clear. That teacher knew the importance of engagement. She is one of the reasons I am here today as a teacher and an artist who thrives on sharing this effect with my students.

As an educator, I know that not all students enter our classroom with the same strengths, interests, and backgrounds. At HTEA, we realize that we need to address students with a variety of learning styles. Using art is an effective way to engage all learning styles and a successful way to use cross-curriculum collaboration for that connection. I am fortunate that the faculty at HTEA opens their doors to collaboration.

In second grade art we are studying authors and illustrators. We began with Leo Leonni and the story of “Swimmy.” Swimmy is a little fish that is different in color, but shows strong character by helping others. We made our papers like Leonni did to collage an illustration “Swimmy Continued.” We discovered that Leonni’s favorite art form to make as a child was mushrooms. So we did, too! We researched and tracked sea turtles to include them in our illustrations, used an art app to draw them and will sculpt turtles in clay. The classroom teachers teach a science unit on turtles and have students use descriptive language skills to write adjectives about their Swimmy story. In library, they hear other stories by Leonni.

Our next exploration was creating a winter cityscape. We looked at different Illustrators and used the iPads to design our cityscapes which we then created using recycled materials. In science, the students used the green screen to study metrology, the study of measurement. In music class, they interpreted their images through music and movement. The music will be used as a border on their cityscape images.

We are now working on landscapes and studying Eric Carle’s “Rooster’s Off to See the World.” We are creating our art papers using Carle’s techniques. In the classroom, the students will be writing stories about their image. In PE, they will play a game that uses movement to identify farm animals.

To pull all our studies together, we will visit the Loggerhead Marine Institute, attend the folk tale, “The Legend of Mulan” at the King Center, and have a book club reading of “Liang and the Magic Paint Brush.”

To learn more about how Holy Trinity uses art created to reinforce your child’s academic studies, watch this video.

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