Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Visual Art in Education and a FREEBIE!!

 I heard on the news this morning about a school that was banning the use of crayons by students unless it was appropriate. They want to increase academic scores on tests that students take each year. I would like to address using visual arts to increase reading and math skills. I did my capstone(thesis) on this very topic when I received my Specialist Degree in Elementary Education. 

One use of art in education is to check students' comprehension of nonfiction or subject area text by asking them to draw a picture of what they have read. An example of this would be using a nonfiction book at a listening station and then have students draw a picture of what the book was about. Another example would be the teacher reading aloud a story without showing the pictures and then have students draw a scene they might have visualized while the story was being read. Using art with reading increases comprehension.

All subject areas have a specialized vocabulary which is often hard for children to learn because it requires comprehending the terms and remembering them. Memory can take place only when the left and right side of the brain are active so art is a good means to insure that children are learning the vocabulary. The teacher can assign a word or students can choose a word to draw a picture of to show they comprehend what the word means. Of course there are charts and graphs that are visual representations too.

 Art not only teaches creativity, it also teaches critical thinking. Research shows that art improves learning in all areas, fosters social skills, and is critical to full brain development. It increases problem-solving skills as well. Visual art lets children observe the differences in shapes and colors to create and replicate patterns.
Math skills of sorting and classifying are an important part of visual art. There is an important connection between the arts and better spatial intelligence which contributes to better abilities in math.

I could go on and on!!

Coloring in Kindergarten helps with spatial relationships, eye-hand coordination, learning color words, understanding that words have meaning, etc. When my school was a Reading First school we were encouraged NOT  to use coloring or cut and paste during reading time, not even in stations. That is one reason why I decided to do my Capstone Research on how visual arts can increase reading and math skills.

Well, I will get off of my soap box now(as you can see, I am very passionate about including art in the curriculum). I would like to show you a couple of art projects that you can use during Halloween that can be used to increase problem-solving skills, eye-hand coordination, patterns, etc.

Here are 2 different art projects I have used with my class in the past.
I am going to show you the process the students use to complete the ghost. These are torn paper projects which my students love to do.
First I start by giving the students a pattern to glue on the black construction paper. I find that a pattern is helpful when they have to cover it with torn pieces of white construction paper.

Here is the ghost pattern: (clic on pic to get a freebie)
Students cut out the ghost pattern and glue it to black or any color construction paper.
Next, give students a piece of white construction paper to tear into pieces to cover the ghost.
 Next, students glue the strips of construction paper to the ghost, covering the entire pattern.
Have students trace two black eyes and a black mouth from the pattern that is provided and glue to the ghost.

This is the finished product!! Isn't it cute and so simple to do!!
Another way this art project could be used is to let students choose which picture they want to make, the pumpkin or the ghost. When they have finished, make a graph showing how many students chose the pumpkin and how many chose the ghost!! Graphing!! Another math skill used with art!!

Sorry this has been such a long post, but I guess I had a lot to say!! LOL!


  1. Banning crayons? That's just crazy talk to me. These are super cute though. I did a few of these last year. I'm going to use your ghost pattern for our art project on Friday! Thanks for sharing!

    Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

  2. You are so welcome Marcy! Glad you can use it!


  3. Good grief. Really? Banning crayons will raise test scores? So I wonder who defines "appropriate"? Sounds to me like they're grasping at straws. I really think these problems are much simpler to solve. Get quality principals in place who SUPPORT their teachers! We had the BEST principal ever last year. He shouldered the burdens and treated us like professionals. Yes, we still had problems, but they seemed less significant. Our test scores went up. Happy teachers, happy schools, happy students! (Oh, and test scores went up in spite of the fact that we colored--with--*GASP*crayons!)

    On a happy note, thanks for your ghost!

  4. I so agree!! Happy teachers and students can make such a difference in the teaching and learning environment!! Your principal from last year had the right idea! Glad you like the ghost!