An Integrated Lesson Plan for Expressive Art

Art and History

Integrating art into history lesson plans is simple because art tells the history of the time it was created. For instance, if the curriculum calls for lessons on the Great Depression, the work of photographer, Dorothea Lange is an excellent means of visualizing this time period for students. Paintings, sculpture, and prints can also offer students a taste of a particular period in time.


Ways of including art into history include:

  • posters or prints hung on a teaching wall
  • postcards of art handed out to the class can be researched with students telling how they relate to the history of the time
  • political cartoons can be used to show changes in social attitudes
  • ask students to pick five different works of art to tell a story of a certain time period.

Art and Math

Art can be integrated into math in many ways that can be fun as well as educational. For instance, geometry can be taught with along with Picasso’s cubist period.

Younger students can be given postcards or small prints of various works of arts done on the same subject (landscapes, still life, pastoral scenes, etc.). A game can then be played to help them learn to count. Students can be placed in groups or alone. Each group receives ten cards, individuals receive five. Have the students spread the cards out on the desk so that they can see them. Now, ask them to find a card with five apples, or find the cards that have a total of six trees.

Other ideas include:

  • finding the Golden Triangle and Golden Rectangle in various portraits
  • teaching Fibonacci numbers by showing Van Gogh‘s Sunflowers, along with real sunflowers so students can see the patterns
  • using tanagrams to create art while teaching geometric shapes

479px-Vincent Willem van Gogh 128

Art and Science

Biology, botany, zoology, physics, and anatomy all lend themselves to art. Many artists during the early days of modern science created detailed sketches of the body, plants, animals and birds, which are still used today in teaching. The work of artists such as Audubon, Monet and Divinci is found in textbooks as well as art museums.

Ways to incorporate art and science are:

  • have students keep a sketching journal for studying plants, show them sketches from Franz and Ferdinand Bauer or Celia Rosser
  • have students compare the sketches of Divinci with modern illustrations of the human anatomy
  • study optical illusions, why does the brain “see” things that are not there

436px-Leonardo da Vinci Studies of Embryos

Art and Language Arts

The old adage is that a picture is worth a thousand words. What better way to demonstrate this than to have various works of art posted around the class for the students to study. Assign a 1000 word essay on the piece of art that touches them most. Have a small prize (perhaps a poster of a work of art) for the student that comes closest to 1000 words.

Language arts and art can also be integrated by:

  • use art to discuss metaphor and simile – political cartoons are good for this
  • give students a poem, for instance, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost – have them find a picture, sketch or photo that captures the essence of the poem – ask them to write a brief essay on why they feel this way
  • use art as a writing prompt – students study the art, then write about how it makes them feel, what they see, what they can compare it to in real life, or what other works of art are similar

377px-Landscapes of near Litang

Art Everywhere!

When enhancing subject matter with art, integrated lessons plans allow the curriculum to become rich and full of great experiences for students.