The sciences are a great way to implement art into learning, especially biology, thanks to how frequently diagrams are used. Most body parts and functions can be learned about and demonstrated by making models from a variety of materials. 3D sculptures of the brain can be made and labelled before revising the functions of the various lobes, while a model of the digestive system - complete with ‘food’ to travel through it - will familiarise children with the internal organs and their jobs. Groups can be responsible for making one organ each, before joining them together to complete the working system.
2. Classical Art
Picasso said that “every child is an artist - the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up”. Encouraging children to take inspiration from the work of others and make it their own through interpretation is a huge leap in the direction of retaining artists into later life. When it comes to educating children about classic artists such as Van Gogh or Klimt, do not simply have them copy one of the works to the best of their abilities. Take time to discuss the meaning these artists put into their pictures, how to interpret use of colour and shapes, and allow children to use this knowledge to express themselves.
The structure and varying atmospheres of the planets in the solar system can be better demonstrated practically. Russian doll-style models of the layers of each planet – decorated and labelled with their name and function – are a creative and informative way of learning about space. Make a group project out of the constellations by dividing a map of the night sky and allocating each child a section. Then have them map out the stars on dark paper and make holes in place of each star, before joining the pieces together and sticking them over the classroom windows, to simulate stargazing.
World cultures are a vast tapestry of creative inspiration. They not only expand imagination and educate on the sheer variety of the planet, but offer another great opportunity to take inspiration from a source and make it one’s own. Many cultures have distinguishing visual features, making them perfect for interpretative artwork. Explore and discuss the styles and customs of a particular culture, then invite children to use these influences to design something. Perhaps a costume, or a way of decorating a room. Ask them to write or explain why they chose these particular features, what they feel it represents, and the feelings they were trying to express with their own work.
These are only a handful of ideas of how to get children embracing everything that art has to offer in the classroom, and it should help you start to come up with new ways of combining crafts with the curriculum. But whatever you end up doing, try not to lose the element of freedom from the activity, as that is the main asset that art provides in an otherwise contained structure. It’s about more than making less palatable subjects fun to younger students, and should be assigned with the aim to let children explore subjects in their own ways. For further ideas, I recommend:
Want to receive cutting-edge insights from leading educators each week? Sign up to our Community Update and be part of the action!