Susan Riley | October 2013

Minute to Win It Arts Integration Strategy

Strategy: Minute to Win It

Arts Focus: Visual Art, Music, Dance, or Drama

Grade Level: K-12

One of the arts integration strategies that I like to use is called “Minute to Win It”.  If you’ve ever seen the TV show, you know that essentially you are provided with typical household items that you need to manipulate in a way that creates a game that you need to win in 60 seconds or less in order to continue to the next round.

One of the reasons this is so difficult, and thereby why we sit on the edge of our seats, is the time limitation.  If you simply bounced ping pong balls across a space with a paper plate without a time limit, we would get bored because anyone could do it.  The time restriction truly forces the participants to concentrate, draw upon their skills, and persist in the activity while being creative in their passage through the game.

As an arts integration strategy, this TV game premise is translated by limiting the time or providing a restrictive frame for an arts element or standard.  This naturally fosters creativity because students are forced to think beyond their limitations to bring their arts element or standard to life within the context of a naturally aligning content standard.  Just like your other senses will grow in their intensity when you eliminate a single sense from your repertoire (think about how much better someone who is blind can hear the nuances around them), by eliminating the sense of unlimited time, students creative senses grow in their intensity.  Here’s an example of how to use this in your classroom:

1. Choose a content standard and a naturally aligned arts standard.

2. Focus on what arts element would be the target used to achieve the desired learning outcome of the arts standard.  For example, if you’ve chosen the movement standard of “identifying and demonstrating movement elements and skills in performing dance”, select a dance element such as shape or space to use as a pathway to teaching that standard.

3. Embed a learning activity to teach the content standard through the arts element.  For example, if you are using the dance elements identified above to help teach geometric shapes, you can have students create a specific shape like a pentagon as a group of 3 people (limiting people compared to sides).

4. After students can master the first activity, then take something else away in addition to the first item.  For example, this time try taking away the ability to talk about how they will make the shape, as well as only working in groups of 3.

5. Finally, limit the time they are able to use their element to demonstrate their understanding.  For example, in addition to only being in a group of 3 and not being able to speak about the activity, limit students to only having 20 seconds to create their designated shape.

Ask your students for their reflections about their own level of creativity and “hard fun” after the activity.  Did they feel like they needed to be more creative or that the time limit took away from their ability to be creative?  Which limitation made the activity most difficult?  You may be surprised at how limitations can help your students break through their own perceived boundaries.

What strategies do you use with your students to help them refine their skills?  How do you help your students practice their creativity?

About the Author

Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, STEAM, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education. Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter. Email Susan