Humans' most important sense is sight and elementary art lessons use vision to plug ideas and concepts directly into our brains' learning centers.
Multiple learning pathways reinforce retention; brain science tells us that stimulating different regions of the brain at the same time helps kids remember knowledge gained during instruction. Elementary art provides students a perfect lens to give them a different - but related - perspective on reading, math, social studies and even science.
But the power of elementary art projects can be wasted if not used correctly.
While it is extremely important to involve art within our different elementary curriculum areas, it has to be used correctly and intentionally. Art cannot be used as a time filler in our classrooms. "Art for art's sake" has a place in school...that's what happens in art class.
In our rooms, art must always have a purpose in order to live up to its promise.
One of my early principals had a favorite saying which he used when he found teachers wasting time with unfocused art:
"We have no curriculum for coloring."
That was painful for many teachers to hear, but I do believe it's true. Art is so engaging that it has the power to distract from learning as well as enhance learning. When we harness art lessons to content we can see dramatic results, but when we let kids while away an hour doodling and coloring, we've removed their thoughts and attention from the learning process.
Elementary art lessons captivate young learners
I've made my stance against buying good behavior with candy very well known. Misusing art is not as bad as handing out M&M's, but I've known teachers who allow drawing during teacher read-alouds as a way to keep kids quiet.
Not a good idea.
The power of art will completely engage the minds of some children, shutting out any knowledge you hope to impart with your read-aloud. If students aren't paying attention during read-alouds, it's time to set some expectations ...and choose a more engaging book!
These elementary art lesson plan ideas will stimulate your creative juices for getting the most out of this powerful medium for learning. Just remember to:
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Elementary Art Education - Part 1
How to make art a priority for your kids
Elementary Art Education - Part 2
How to work with your art teacher
Elementary Art Lesson Plans
How to make art work in math, science and more
Elementary Art Projects
Managing the mess, setting expectations
A Math-Based Elementary Art Project
Step-by-step: Creating "measurement giants"