Learning / Additional Programs



Arts Vision Statement

The Arts at CAIS (Music, Dance, Visual Art, Design) are a mission-vital component of our overall curriculum. Arts provide the CAIS community with an avenue to Embrace Chinese, Become Their Best Self, and Contribute to a Better World. Through instruction in the arts, curricular integration, collaboration, and community engagement, the Arts program empowers students to develop skills, take risks, make meaning, and enact change.

The Arts at CAIS values Chinese as a lens to explore multiple perspectives, and engages the community through a pedagogy that is experiential and collaborative. The Arts inspire the CAIS community to creatively and critically investigate and respond to the complexity of and exchange between culture and identity, process and product, and the dynamic exchange between contemporary and traditional art forms.

The Arts Team

Student Art Gallery
Click above the see the Student Art Gallery shared in conjunction with the Spring Talent Recital

Music and Movement


Once a week, preschool children enjoy music and movement classes with a CAIS specialist teacher. Through singing, dancing, and playing small percussion, they use their imaginations and interact with their classmates while learning the elements of music and dance.

Kindergarten to Third Grade

In Kindergarten through third grade, we teach music and movement based on an approach to music education known as Orff Schulwerk. As described by composer Carl Orff, the creator of the approach, Orff Schulwerk offers “A music exclusively for children that could be played, sung and danced by them, but that could also in a similar way be invented by them—a world of their own.” A music exclusively for children—”a world of their own”—means that this approach recognizes the child’s need to move, touch, explore, experiment, discover and make connections in a playful, risk-encouraging atmosphere. Playing, singing and dancing ensures multiple approaches to training the musical intelligence and honors the diverse needs of the students.

Music and movement classes at CAIS provide an active, hands-on approach to understanding, practicing and creating music and movement. Using the Orff Schulwerk approach, students sing, learn folk dances, explore with movement and play pitched and unpitched percussion instruments. Our classes emphasize working together as a group as students grow to understand the elements of music and movement, and apply their understanding through creative expression.

As the students progress through the grades they explore the music and dance of many world cultures. We teach using authentic percussion instruments from those cultures; which include China, Ghana, Indonesia and others. Traditional and historical songs, dances and instrumental pieces are taught and performed.

Fourth through Eighth Grade Dance & Movement  

Students experience a dance/creative movement program that is child-centered and developmentally appropriate. Through embodied experience they develop their tool (the body) for self expression.  Understanding dance elements, improvisation, and compositional tools and structures students communicate what is meaningful to them (in themselves and in the world).

Students come to value dance and creative movement as an important subject to be learned and find value in this form of expression.

The program is enhanced by live performance, guest dance workshops, exploration of dance in the San Francisco bay area and other parts of the world. Over time students gain both an experience and deep understanding of the social, cultural, and spiritual role that dance plays in their lives and in the world.

Studio Art

Preschool to Third Grade

The preschool through Lower School Visual Art program at CAIS is a child-centered and developmental approach. Students engage in hands on exploration with art materials and are also encouraged to represent subject matter that expresses their own life experiences and interests. To support this process, students view and discuss work from a diverse selection of time periods and artistic traditions. Students use materials and techniques that mirror both traditional and contemporary art practice.  Students work independently as well as in groups to collaboratively produce art work.

Fourth and Fifth Grade

In the higher grades of lower school, students become visually literate and apply the language of art to their understanding of the discipline, and explore opportunities for visual communication and personal expression. As with learning any new language and skill set, students build upon the foundation from preschool to third grade studio art and expand their knowledge of terms and techniques.

During these developmental years, fourth and fifth grade students work from their memories, observations of their immediate environments and their imaginations. They relate their ideas to specific art terms such as the elements of art and principles of design, and begin communicating connections. A student working on a project inspired by nature might be asked where, or on what they have noticed patterns. Creative and critical thinking engages students and asks them to answer the question “why?”. Students continue to develop the fine motor skills required for handling tools more effectively. They are exposed to and experiment with a range of supplies from hammer and nail to a variety of art brushes in order to discriminate about which tools will serve their intended outcome. In preparation for Middle School the fifth graders are encouraged to be inquisitive and become more independent with their decision making. Constant reflection and brainstorming activities remind them that the work can evolve and adapt.

Middle School

The Middle School Visual Art program centers around the student as a developing artist. Students are encouraged to explore traditional and contemporary art making techniques in two and three-dimensional media. With an emphasis on studio production, various contemporary art making methods are introduced to facilitate personal expression. Students are challenged and supported to think critically, to problem solve, and communicate effectively.