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Cross Curricular Ideas for Art and Language Art Lesson Plans

written by: Natasha Stiller • edited by: Jonathan Wylie • updated: 9/11/2012

Tired of reading a book and not being further involved in your class? I've provided some examples of how to integrate art lessons to language arts and bridge the gap between children's imaginations and understanding of literary work.

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    Fun Lesson Plans

    Creating lesson plans for children that correlate to multiple subjects and expose students to a variety of mediums throughout planning can be so much fun. Formulating lessons that tie Art and Language Arts can be a fun creative process for kids of all ages. There are many books and resources that can tie in to multiple subjects, creating unit studies or many projects that help children immerse themselves in a story and their characters. This gives them a better idea of the plot, characters, main idea, and allows them an opportunity to be creative and enhance their understanding of literary work and Language Arts.

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    Younger Elementary Students

    For younger children, a great cross-curricular idea for Art and Language Arts includes The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. The story can be read, introducing the days of the week, the amount of food that is eaten, progressively adding to every day, as well as introducing the life cycle of the butterfly.

    After reading the story, children can make a flip book, with the first page being the shortest and resembling the first day, and the food item that the caterpillar eats, progressing throughout all days of the week.

    To prepare: create a flip book that has seven pages, with each added page being slightly longer than the first page. The total length of the book will be 8 ½", the smallest page can start out at about 2”. You will need clip art of each of the foods the caterpillar eats though.

    Students will work on adding these foods into the correct order. Once the foods are all in, students can tape on a string of yarn and a caterpillar so the students can act out the story independently. Once the caterpillar has eaten all of his food, the students can wrap up the caterpillar with the yarn to show that he has turned into a chrysalis. A clip art picture of the butterfly can be added to the back cover of the book, if desired.

    Students can also create a life cycle of a butterfly on a stick. A stick about six inches is ideal. The first item represented for eggs can be rice or barley. These can be glued on in excess to represent eggs. Second, the larva or caterpillar stage can be represented by either a string of yarn or several pompoms glued together. Third, an item can be added to represent a chrysalis, (children love to work on wrapping yarn around almost anything); and lastly a tissue paper or craft butterfly can be added last to show the metamorphosis of the caterpillar.

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    Fun Lesson Plans

    Another fun adaptable lesson plan to combine these subjetcs is for the book Chika Chika Boom Boom. After reading the story of the happenstance activities of the alphabet, a project where kids can interact helps them apply the story to the alphabet they are learning about.

    The first step is to create a tree. This can be done with playdoh, brown construction paper, etc. depending on if you want a flat tree or a three dimensional tree. Another idea is to fill an old pantyhose leg, taping the ends together and adding leaves. With green construction paper (or playdoh) you can create the palm leaves. With magnetic or foam letters, kids can act out the story of Chika Chika Boom Boom over and over again. More Chika Chika Boom Boom activities can be found in this article.

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    Art and Language Arts for Older Kids

    Older elementary children can have just as much fun combining Art and Language Arts lesson plans in the classroom. Students can take The Secret Garden and create a diorama of the story, creating their own perfect garden. Girls especially will love to recreate the garden with paper, making flowers and gardens that represent this fascinating piece of literature.

    For films that are starting to take the big screen, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, students can create their own journals and start to document different events in their life. This will incorporate Language Arts, Art, and writing - bonus!

    For lovers of novels like Artemis Fowl and Harry Potter, students can make costumes, create secret codes, and dive into exploratory art projects that help them grasp and understand the dimension of these science fiction works. For novels of this nature, there are lesson plans and forums created by the authors the help teachers and parents provide subject based projects and lessons to work on in addition to reading the novels. These are a great resource for parents, especially since these novels have inspired so many children that weren’t previously readers to read!

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    Integrating Art and Language Arts into the Classroom

    Providing Art and Language Arts lesson plans allows students to explore deeper into the text of the books that they are reading or exposed to, and have a better understanding of the material, the characters, and how they can use their own imaginations for projects. Students naturally learn more when they are sharing ideas and their own personal interest. As teachers, we should definitely promote more hands-on lessons that integrate Language Arts and Art so that children feel inspired by the activities they are participating in. When this happens, students don't even feel like they're learning, and when teachers can see natural learning, it definitely can bring a smile to their faces.