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Tips for Teachers: 8 Projects That Integrate Art with Other Subjects

When it comes to planning assignments, it can be difficult for teachers to come up with ways to integrate other subjects into visual arts. They all seem so separate from one another -- math and science are so methodical, while art is so creatively free. At a first glance, other subjects and the arts feel like oil and water, but this actually isn’t the case.

An photo of March break camp. An instructor is surrounded by various students.
Throwback to March Break Camp in 2019 back at the live studio!

While science and mathematics are considered the baseline essentials, art is just as essential to humanity. It integrates itself within our daily lives without many people noticing. Art is linked to our methods of communication, our entertainment, our technology -- everything that you use every day has gone through the hands of an artist to ensure its design is well crafted.

Art integration is essential for learning

Visual arts are important when considering communication; visual arts can help someone communicate complex concepts using diagrams and visual cues. While individuals who are more analytically and technically inclined may prefer numbers and facts, those who are more intuitive and creative learn better by seeing visuals, or hearing stories.

Math and science are far more connected to visual arts than one might think. Here are a few examples of ways you can have art integration in your next assignments!

Integrating Art with English/Language

Comic/Graphic Novel Illustration

A wordless comic illustrated by Jessie Chang of a man climbing a mountain. A sunset is seen in the final panel as the main subject overlooks a long ravine
A comic illustrated by Jessie Chang from her Cartooning and Anime class

Writing a short comic or graphic novel can integrate the need for illustrations into your next creative writing assignment. Visual art also helps with presentation -- having an alternative method of communication for your English/Language assignments can give more options to the different learning styles your students may have.

Have students focus on composition and visual storytelling in order to tell a short story, whether that includes words in the comic itself or through a separate text that tells the beginning, middle, climax, falling action and resolution. You can task your students with writing a story using only images -- they’ll have to figure out how to communicate ideas using only visual cues and imagery.

Here’s a tip: Classroom protocol posters can be somewhat boring if there’s only words; formatting it like a comic can make it more fun for students to read!

Visual Poetry

An alliteration illustration by Fei Lu. Along the top, it reads "Fei fears farting flamingos", while what is written is illustrated below.
Alliteration illustrations can lead to some really silly ideas!

Incorporate illustrations into your next poetry lesson by having your students illustrate what they’ve written. For instance, if your students are learning about alliteration, they can illustrate what’s being described in the scene that they’ve written. Students may also interpret poetry, music lyrics or short literature by creating illustrations to show the mood and story.

Integrating Art with Science

Native Animal Illustrations

An acrylic painting by Jessie Chang of an arial silks dancer who's lower half is the body of a spider.
An interpretive painting of the Goldenrod Crab Spider, showing off its beauty

Have your students research a certain animal that’s native to the country. Based on their research, they can create an interpretive piece that best represents the animal and its biological traits. Students can take inspiration from the animal’s habitat of origin, the animal’s hunting patterns, or certain defense mechanisms that it may possess. Have your students decide what would best represent the animal in question that they’ve chosen to illustrate.

Here's a tip: Older students may choose to draw the animal indirectly -- maybe they're represented through another figure or pattern!

Creating a skeleton

A chibi self portrait by Jessie Chang. Half of the chibi is drawn as normal, while the other half is drawn as a skeleton.
Skeletons can also be cute, just like in this half skeleton self portrait!

Integrate the need for researching skeletal anatomy by having your students draw skeletons. These skeletons don’t have to be human -- they can be anatomical studies of animals instead, or they can be of fictional characters or creatures. This lesson can be especially interesting if you have your students come up with skeletons for characters that don’t fall into specifically human or animal skeletal systems (Spongebob, Kirby, etc.).

Here’s a tip: These don’t have to be illustrated! Perhaps students can sculpt different parts of the skeleton instead with polymer clay. Afterwards, they can be baked and assembled with glue to create 3D skeletal models.

Integrating Art with Mathematics

3D Form Design

A cardboard house.
Using recycled materials for your 3D forms is also a great way to help the environment

Integrate geometry into your art assignments with designs using 3D forms. This can include anything from product designs such as toys or appliances to interior designs that involve area measurements. These don’t have to be completely drawn either -- you can have your students work with materials like clay, cardboard, cardstock or plasticine to create physical models.

Here’s a tip: While elementary students can focus more on simple isometric shapes, highschool students can instead focus on perspective drawing with more difficult shapes. For instance, while elementary students may identify forms within everyday objects, highschool students may instead draw a 2 point perspective interior room from observation.

Anatomy/Figure Drawings

A proportions drawing sheet by Fei Lu. On the sheet is an adult male, an adult female, a female child, a female elder, and a baby.
Figure drawing lineup drawn by Fei Lu from her Figure Drawing Intensive class

Have your students focus on human anatomy and human proportions. Human proportions and getting them right all rely on measurements within the body, whether it’s measuring the body with head lengths or measuring the face with eyes, etc. Proportions also deal with ratios, and learning how they change as an individual ages.

Here’s a tip: As a bonus, you could have your students practice different body types or give their human figures personalities/identifying traits! This can help with extra added creativity rather than it continuing to be so technical heavy.

Integrating art with phys-ed/health and nutrition

Quick gesture drawings

A full sheet of 30 second gesture drawings.
These gesture drawings took 30 seconds each!

Have your students sit in a sports event or during gym class at your school. Based on the players, students must make quick gestural drawings that capture the athlete’s actions. This will allow them to focus on capturing the line of action and more fluid movement within their human figures, but will also allow them to become quicker and loosen up while drawing.

Creating a healthy meal plan

A black sheet of construction paper with "breakfast", "lunch", "dinner" and "dessert" written on it. Under each word are plasticine models of varying foods attributed to that meal of the day.
All of the items of food are made from plasticine!

Integrate health and nutrition into your arts assignments by having your students illustrate healthy foods that they enjoy. Have them plan out the balanced meals and calculate the nutritional value of the food items they’ve chosen to draw. This will allow students to research the food guide while also learning about still life illustrations.

Here’s a tip: This doesn’t have to be illustrated. Students could also model their favourite foods from sculpting material to make 3D modelled meals!

There you have it! The arts are as heavily integrated and important as the other subjects taught in school -- incorporating it into assignments and other areas of study is important to teaching students how vital it is to the working world.

Want more resources for your classroom? Check out our art resources for teachers section on our website, filled with other teachable subjects and assignment ideas.

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