Practice in Action
Integrating the Arts with Other Subjects combines the creative engagement of arts activities with content from other subject areas, such as math, science, language arts, social studies, and technology. There are many ways to integrate the arts with specific content areas. For example, an interplanetary travel brochure combines science content with art skills.
There are many types of arts-integrated activities. Some examples are project- or problem-based, or thematic projects that require collaboration and incorporate content across the curriculum. For instance, in designing and publishing a brochure that advertises travel to a selected planet, students have to learn about the planets (science), travel advertising (economics, technology), persuasive writing (language arts), and combine all of those into an aesthetically pleasing print product that "sells" the planet of their choice.
Begin by connecting with school-day teachers to find out what themes students are studying in different classes. If students are studying the early explorers in social studies, you can extend their learning with arts-based activities such as creating maps, replicating costumes and plays based on the life of early explorers, or designing a flag to mark a new settlement. To incorporate reading and writing skills in an arts-based activity, students can make and illustrate their own books around a theme. It is important to develop arts-based activities that also tap students' interests, such as animals, cooking, music, or technology. Whatever the activity, be sure that students have an opportunity to explore, express, and present something that incorporates learning from different subject areas.
Integrating the Arts with Other Subjects works because students are able to use different strategies and learning styles to explore a variety of subject areas. Students who struggle in science, for example, might enjoy the content more if it is presented in the context of an art activity, ultimately increasing their desire to learn. Giving students opportunities to dance, act, draw, paint, or play music draws on their strengths and broadens their learning experience across the curriculum.
Planning Your Lesson
Great afterschool lessons start with having a clear intention about who your students
are, what they are learning or need to work on, and crafting activities that engage students while supporting their academic growth. Great afterschool lessons also require planning and preparation, as there is a lot of work involved in successfully managing kids, materials, and time.
Below are suggested questions to consider while preparing your afterschool lessons.
The questions are grouped into topics that correspond to the Lesson Planning
Template. You can print out the template and use it as a worksheet to plan and
refine your afterschool lessons, to share lesson ideas with colleagues, or to help in professional development sessions with staff.
Lesson Planning Template (PDF)
Lesson Planning Template (Word document)
What grade level(s) is this lesson geared to?
How long will it take to complete the lesson? One hour? One and a half hours? Will
it be divided into two or more parts, over a week, or over several weeks?
What do you want students to learn or be able to do after completing this activity? What skills do you want students to develop or hone? What tasks do they need to accomplish?
List all of the materials needed that will be needed to complete the activity.
Include materials that each student will need, as well as materials that students
may need to share (such as books or a computer). Also include any materials that students or instructors will need for record keeping or evaluation. Will you need to store materials for future sessions? If so, how will you do this?
What do you need to do to prepare for this activity? Will you need to gather
materials? Will the materials need to be sorted for students or will you assign students to be "materials managers"? Are there any books or instructions that you need to read in order to prepare? Do you need a refresher in a content area? Are there questions you need to develop to help students explore or discuss the activity? Are there props that you need to have assembled in advance of the activity? Do you need to enlist another adult to help run the activity?
Think about how you might divide up groups―who works well together? Which students could assist other peers? What roles will you assign to different members of the group so that each student participates?
Now, think about the Practice that you are basing your lesson on. Reread the
Practice. Are there ways in which you need to amend your lesson plan to better
address the key goal(s) of the Practice? If this is your first time doing the activity, consider doing a "run through" with friends or colleagues to see what works and what you may need to change. Alternatively, you could ask a colleague to read over your lesson plan and give you feedback and suggestions for revisions.
What to Do
Think about the progression of the activity from start to finish. One model that
might be useful—and which was originally developed for science
education—is the 5E's instructional model. Each phrase of the learning
sequence can be described using five words that begin with "E": engage, explore, explain, extend, and evaluate. For more information, see
the 5E's Instructional Model.
Outcomes to Look For
How will you know that students learned what you intended them to learn through this
activity? What will be your signs or benchmarks of learning? What questions might you ask to assess their understanding? What, if any, product will they produce?
After you conduct the activity, take a few minutes to reflect on what took place.
How do you think the lesson went? Are there things that you wish you had done differently? What will you change next time? Would you do this activity again?
Use desktop publishing to design and publish brochures. Students can use word- processing software to write articles, scanners to recreate images, and digital photography to download pictures into documents.
About Desktop Publishing
National Geographic Solar System
Research Summary: The National Standards describes integrating the arts across art forms (visual arts and music, music and theatre, music and dance, theatre and dance, etc.) as well as a way to understand other subject areas: "Be able to relate various types of arts knowledge and skills within and across arts disciplines, and apply to other disciplines as relevant (i.e. integrated or project basis, 2003, No. 5)." The issue of integration and integrated strategies emerges as a theme in much of the afterschool research. Miller describes project-based learning as an effective method of developing problem-solving skills, critical thinking, ability to make connections across academic disciplines, and cooperative teamwork and planning (2003). Ingram and Seashore (2003) in their study of Minneapolis Schools found a significant relationship between arts integrated instruction and improved student learning and achievement. This relationship was more powerful for disadvantaged learners, and helped to close the achievement gap. The relationship of arts integration and reading achievement was stronger for students in free and reduced lunch programs and English language learner programs. They state that their findings show it was not the mere presence of arts integration but the intensity or persistent use of it that related to gains.
- Miller, B.M. (2003a). Critical Hours: Afterschool Programs and Educational Success. Nellie Mae Education Foundation.
- Ingram, D. and K. R. Seashore (2003). The Arts for Academic Achievement: Summative Evaluation Report. The Annenberg Foundation and Minneapolis Public Schools.
- National Standards for Arts Education (2003). Retrived from the web: