Learning is Fun Again with Art Integration

There have numerous studies on how music can affect a person’s brain. Science has determined that a human being uses only about 10 percent of their brain; but when that same human being listens to music all sorts of synapses fire and as much as 50 percent of the brain is engaged.

And if that person plays music!

All 100 percent of the brain is engaged!

piano

So why is it that the instant a school board needs to make some changes, instead of eliminating the excess administrative staff, they cut out music, art, and theater?

In this age of Common Core, it is even more important that school children are given an outlet to not only stimulate their imaginations; but also, to help stimulate brain function.

Falls Church, Virginia kindergarten teachers Carol Hunt and Melissa Richardson has found a way to bring the arts into her classroom. She uses theatrical play to teach her wee ones basic math concepts.

As the children become various animals in the jungle, they learn how many steps it takes for each animal to reach the “watering hole”. Elementary and kindergarten teaches have long known that small children learn best by play; but in the days of common core, play and imagination are substituted by a convoluted math concept that has everyone baffled…including the teachers.

dinosaurs

As arts and music programs are cut from the curriculum, teachers are turning to “art integration” where they fuse the lessons plans into some artistic endeavour. One big complaint with many school aged children is that school is boring and all the teacher wants is for them to memorize information that can be regurgitated on to a test form.

Art integration is a way to make learning fun and interesting. It is also a way to reach some children who have nontraditional ways of learning.

The art/math program used by Hunt and Richardson was developed by The Wolf Trap Institute. And according to a study by the American Institutes for Research the program is working. The study showed that children taught using the art integration program scored better on math tests than the students who were taught math by traditional methods. And the art integration students were further ahead than their traditionally taught peers…by over a month during the school year. Researcher Mengli Song noted that the art integration students had a better grasp on the lessons that were taught.

The art integration program isn’t just for kindergarten children. Rogers Heights Elementary School fourth and fifth grades got a science lesson in song when music teacher Ari Stern wrote a song to explain the water cycle. Stern has also used art integration for teaching math and reading.

guitar rack

School Principal Barbara Bottoms made a visit to one of the classrooms at her Rogers Heights Elementary School an was very surprised at what she found; saying, “I expected the students to be interested. But I didn’t expect a large group of students working together. I saw them excited about learning, and I saw them excited about learning reading and language arts through music.”

Hunt admits that it does take more time to plan the lessons and figure how she can use theatrics to demonstrate her lessons; but Hunt also says that the payoff is worth it. The 17 year teaching veteran says that the art integration program is an excellent method for teaching students whose native tongue is not English.

Rogers Heights teacher Joli Butler admits that using the art integration program has renewed a passion in her for teaching. Speaking on the program she said, “It’s allowing me to find those natural connections in music and art and drama and dance. And it’s making me enjoy teaching again. It’s making me enjoy learning again.”

The art integration programs also encourage movement, something else education officials are concerned about with more and more children living sedentary lives at home.

The Prince George County School system currently has 41 schools using the art integration program and is looking to expand the program to all 211 of its school over the next few years.

Art integration is a new program in the school system, but the concept is far from new. Back in the days when Saturday mornings were filled with cartoons like Bugs Bunny, the Pink Panther, Scooby Doo, and the Archies; children were introduced to “Schoolhouse Rock” where cartoons and music was used to offer up a little Saturday morning school lessons in a manner that few children realized was a school lesson.


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