“Playing” Through The Arts

I taught JK-Grade 2 for 11 years before moving to Grade 6 this year. Even as a Grade 6 teacher, I do five periods of Kindergarten and Grade 1 prep coverage a week, and it’s funny how I very quickly fall back into singing, dancing, moving, and “playing” with these young learners. It was actually at our Staff Meeting after school yesterday that made me think about how important it is to move this “play” and movement from primary to junior.

Yesterday, we were fortunate to have our wonderful Arts consultant, Karen, come to present to us on integrating the Arts into our program. Early on in her presentation, she spoke briefly about the full-day Kindergarten program, and her belief in the importance of moving this play-based model right through the divisions. It was then that she had me hooked!

This week in math, we began our unit on geometry, and we actually had numerous hands-on activities, where students used everything from string to geoboards to playdough to create different triangles. The problem-solving component of each of the activities, and the open-ended nature of each one of them, really had the students eagerly communicating about math. The more they played, the more they wondered, and the more they wondered, the more they learned!

As Karen was speaking, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Arts could become a part of this math unit. How could we use Drama and Dance to help students explore geometry in new ways? This question was soon answered as Gina and I sat down to plan for next week. In an excerpt from our Livescribe Minutes below, you’ll hear how we plan on using the Arts as part of our math class on Monday. (I do apologize in advance for my giddiness! When the idea evolved, I was just so happy that I couldn’t help myself! This plan involves the Arts and technology: I’m in my element. :))

Even as mentioned in these planning minutes, when it came to teaching geometry, I was terrified! I have such a significant learning disability in visual spatial skills that I questioned how I was going to explain concepts in which I struggle. When Gina and I started planning this unit last week though, we really looked at how I could understand the concepts, and in doing so, we looked beyond just pencil and paper tasks. The visual and kinaesthetic activities that we planned for this week and for next week, helped make this unit fun, but also successful for all learners: myself included! 🙂

So a special “thank you” to Karen for coming in and talking at our Staff Meeting and a special “thank you” to our wonderful administrators, Paul Clemens and Tammy McLaughlin, who arranged for this presentation to happen. I don’t think that Monday’s math lesson would be what it is now without this presentation. Now I can’t wait to see how else we can use the Arts in other subject areas to make learning meaningful, engaging, and exciting.

How do you integrate the Arts into your class? What ideas would you suggest to others? I would love to hear what you have to share!


2 thoughts on ““Playing” Through The Arts

  1. Playing is just another word for inquiring – which we recognize in our current educational system to be important to developing critical and creative thinking, problem solving and collaboration. Using the arts to get students deepen their learning is so important…and engaging. If you really want to create critical thinkers, why not turn that question back to your students – how would they like to use the arts to deepen their learning and represent their thinking? That’s part of the basis of the new FDK philosophy – not only is it inquiry based but it is student centred inquiry. If the 4 & 5 years olds can do it, why not your grade 6’s? They will be meta cognitive gurus by the time they graduate! Thanks for sharing your thinking, Aviva!

    • Kristi, thank you so much for your comment! I LOVE this idea! We’ve had our students work with curriculum expectations all year as they structure their learning in Language, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Why not add this Arts component? Now my head is spinning! 🙂 I think that you’ll definitely be a part of next week’s Planning Minutes as we discuss letting the students decide how to use the Arts to “deepen their learning and represent their thinking.” Oh, the possibilities! Stay tuned! 🙂


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