Arts Integration Curriculum Examples

Also see our Arts Vision Statement

 Arts Integration Definition


First Grade Chinese and Music & Movement — Toy Stories     

First graders connected with their unit on designing and making toys. In Music class they explored the idea of “toys” in many ways using movement and sound, first by brainstorming as a class and naming what the main characteristics were of each kind of toy, such as Matryoshka dolls, spinning tops, and slinkies. In small groups, they found ways to convey, through sound and/or movement, the unique nature of each toy. Here are examples of some of the word prompts the students brainstormed for these toys, which then contributed to their movement and sound ideas:

  • Molecules (these are plastic sticks and balls that can be joined in different ways)
    • Always changing, build, make shape, connect
    • Building up and out, like a construction, connecting, still
  • Slinkies
    • Stretch/drop, like legs, like a spring, spiral, like a wave
    • Stretchy, bouncy, wave, waterfall, change/combine colors, twisty, like a spring
  • Matryoshka Dolls
    • Take apart/put together; “giving birth;” Inside each other, big to small
    • Small/big, Old/young, Inside each other, “Eat each other,” growing up

Fourth Grade Science, Chinese, and Art — “Saving Energy”

In fourth grade science, art, and Chinese classes, students created an integrated unit called “Saving Energy.” Students learned about natural resources and energy as a part of their geology unit in science class, read articles about current issues on using energy and resources in Chinese, and then used the design thinking process to develop a prototype in art class with an idea about how to save energy. Students worked in small groups and then presented their final idea to their first grade book buddies. The students were assigned to groups of four and taught seven different ways that people create and use renewable sources of energy. Then, for their art project, in groups, the children drew and planned out a moquette (a small model of a lifesized idea) with recycled materials in art class. For example, some of the students made a cardboard car (that could fit on a desk) and pretended it was solar powered (they used CD covers, painted them blue, and attached them to the roof of the cardboard car). The project was then presented in Chinese class to work on their vocabulary.

Fifth Grade Geometry and Dance — “Moving Math”

The students learned geometry concepts and terms in Math class. Music and Movement teacher Ms. Womack-Freeman collected concepts from the classroom teacher such as point, lines, ray, circle, parallel, and intersection and then created lessons in dance that connected to those concepts. The students looked at Kandinsky’s geometric art and used that as an inspiration to create their dance. Students performed their Geometry dances at their Celebration of Learning.

Fifth Grade Chinese and Art — “Taiwan Trip Design Project and Reflection”

The fifth graders did two projects. The first one was a Design Thinking project. Students were assigned to construct a “carry-on” piece luggage about a month before they left for Taiwan. Each student made a life-size carry-on piece of luggage out of recycled materials. The children interviewed a classmate and became designers who had to think about what their “client” wanted for their luggage, such as pockets, zippers, windows, wheels, a strap, retractable handle, etc. The projects were presented in Chinese class. The second project with fifth grade took place after they returned from Taiwan. The assignment was to think of a memory they had from recent Taiwan experience and think about the colors that represent that memory and the smells. They were asked to paint that memory on canvas and their art was shown in the Ultra Arts Fair art show in June.

Eighth Grade Science and Design — “Aerodynamics”

Eighth grade science studies bird migration and bird flight and explores aerodynamics through wing and tail design using graphic examples and computer simulations. The class then participates in a design project in the Phanachet Design Lab to design the wing and tail shape that will allow gliders to fly straight and over distance. Students also had to experiment with weighting different parts of the glider.

The class worked with partners to shape cardboard or plastic glider parts using the tools (laser cutter and scroll saw) and then attached them to their glider body. Each group used a digital sensor and their iPad to measure altitude and distance during flight. Students also focused on trying to change just one variable for each round/flight. Students produced three different prototypes and collected data for each flight experiment. Lastly, the students had to prepare a scientific lab report including data tables to explain the results of their experiments. It was a great example of using the design engineering process to build and experiment with material and structure and the scientific method to test their hypothesis about aerodynamics and glider shape and to capture their results and analysis in a scientific lab report format. 

Eighth Grade Chinese and Dance - “Conflict”

Eighth grade Chinese class’s opening unit on “Conflict / 冲突“ featured a collaboration with Music and Movement class. In Chinese class, the students looked at conflicts between individuals, within families, and between nations centered around reading historical stories involving the Chinese officers Lin Xiangru and Lian Po (fl. 325-300 BCE), who worked in the state of Zhao during the Warring States Period (475-221 BCE). The two officials were rivals, and engaged in various conflicts with other leaders (most notably the First Qin Emperor) and with each other. Students’ reading focused on conflicts and how the two officials used various strategies to resolve them, based on the nature of the conflicts.

Concurrently in Music and Movement class, students were tasked to create dances that took their inspiration on conflict as a theme. Students developed a “motif’ (i.e., a movement that both repeats and develops in the course of their choreography), and articulated in Chinese what the “story” of their conflict was and how the motif underscored this idea of conflict. These dances were then performed and after each dance, each of the students had to make a short oral presentation about one facet of their creative process and how their work reflected a conflict.


Arts Team Integration

At Launch Week prior to school, Music and Movement teachers Susan Kennedy and Nia Womack-Freeman used dance to help colleagues visualize the different modes through which the Arts can be integrated with other subjects. Their fellow Arts teachers rounded out the presentation by providing specific examples, such as the scenarios described above on this page, in which they have connected students’ work in Art class with other disciplines.