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Infusing Visual Art, Music, Acting, and Dance in the Classroom
by: Ms. Jasztal

One thing I have always worked hard to do is infuse visual art, music, acting, and dance in the classroom. Well, perhaps not dance, but I will share some ideas here and hopefully incorporate them sometime.

Visual Art:

  • Sketch comic strips depicting a major event that occured in state/ territorial/ provincial/ national/ world history.
  • Envision the novel you are reading as a play or musical, indicating what the scenery would look like.
  • Design a costume that is representative of a period or individual in history.
  • Furthermore, have students sew the costume they have designed. If you have access to a sewing machine, this could be a wonderful project!
  • Sketch a comic book that explains how to tackle a mathematical concept.
  • Design a brochure about anything being studied in class (ie. the outer planets, biomes, event that occurred during the American Revolution, a historical site in your country)
  • Electricity units can be enhanced by incorporating visual art. Students can learn about paper circuitry using Chibitronics circuit stickers. The classroom pack costs $110.00. There are less expensive options as well. Then, the website includes several incredible tutorials. One great tutorial is the "Piano Notes".
  • Board game design for scientific, mathematical, literary, or historical concepts is also exciting for students.
  • I always have my students sketch their prototypes for their engineering challenges.
  • Show your students some inventors' sketches-- Thomas Alva Edison was quite visual, and then Leonardo daVinci was the ultimate Maker in history. Sharing sketches of Walt Disney's plans for Disneyland is quite wonderful as well.
  • When I taught fourth grade and my students acted in our class play, I made duct tape vests for the conquistadors. Perhaps your students can make costumes for some kind of production they are putting on, even if it's a five minute video you are recording.
  • If your students have access to a 3D printer, a great deal of visual arts can be incorporated, starting with the use of a CAD program.
  • Make plaster masks during your chemistry unit. This tutorial from Artlex is awesome.
  • Design scrapbook pages dedicated to a novel you are reading in class.
  • Salt dough maps are also a tremendous way to review geographical concepts. When I taught fourth grade, my students made one of Florida, and my fifth graders have made one of the United States.

    Music:

  • Electricity units can be enhanced by incorporating the Korg kit from littleBits and/or the MaKey MaKey. Students can make piano stairs.
  • There are numerous channels on YouTube that include wonderful songs that cover a wide array of concepts, but a cherished favorite with my fifth graders is 6th grade science teacher Mr. Parr.
  • You never know, but a few of your students may be ecstatic to write a song or rap about a concept they are reviewing in class.
  • Chants in science class helped my students to grasp concepts more readily. Shawn Coleman's chant "Break, Move, Drop" was a weathering, erosion, deposition chant my 2014-2015 students enjoyed.
  • I love using musical soundtracks to teach about positive and negative mood in Language Arts. Students have also written adventure story excerpts with soundtrack music playing in the background.
  • Play instruments in science class. Plucking the strings of a guitar and pounding a beat on a snare drum may compliment your energy unit very nicely.
  • Make musical instruments from everyday objects while reviewing sound energy.
  • "Teaching Music in Science Class", posted on Classical MPR, is an interesting article.

    Acting:

  • Put on a play reviewing some kind of content you cover. Either you or your students can write the script.
  • An acting opportunity that incorporates technology is podcasting with Audacity. On and off over the course of the past seven years, students have written scripts about science and history concepts in my class.
  • Teach your students about prosody by having them read a script excerpt from a movie and then having them watch it to see how they fared with their expression.

    Dance:

  • Work with motion detecting sensors that light up LEDs. To learn more, read this page about electronic wearables on Makezine.
  • If you are a confident Maker (I am still getting there), construct a Dance Dance Revolution pad, which incorporates science and movement.
  • The Teaching Channel has plenty of incredible ideas for integrating dance.
  • Incorporate dancing and brain breaks in your classroom. My friend Angela wrote an article on Scholastic in 2010 called "Are Your Students Working Hard? Time for a 'Break' Dance!" that I recommend reading.

    (c) Ms. Jasztal, over the course of many years--2014-2019, and beyond.