Susan Riley | January 2014

EdCloset Best of 2013: Coloring Connections

EdCloset Best of 2013, Coloring Connections, Education Closet

This week, the EdCloset staff will be taking time off to enjoy their families and friends during the holidays.  We’ll be using this space to share with you the most popular posts from 2013.  This is a great time to catch up on pieces you may have missed, or to refresh your toolkit as we prepare for the New Year!

I love when concepts jump out at you with what seems like an obvious connection across curricular areas!  In her August 14th blog post “Board Already for Back-to-School?” right here at Susan made the following suggestion:

Write a boring adjective at the bottom of the paint strip on the most boring color. Give each student a paint strip and they can use a thesaurus or a word wall to think of “more colorful” words for their strip. Hang all of their strips on the door and they can use those words to help “make their writing colorful!”

Brilliant, right?  Well it got me thinking about color and the way we refer to things and people as “colorful”.  Suddenly I had a brainstorming session with myself about how to take this concept of color and apply it to other curriculum areas.  Of course, Susan already related the paint strips to language arts.  Below I just flesh it out her original idea and point out some other coloring connections.

ART:  Have the students create the paint strip themselves and turn it into a lesson on intensity.  Each student can start by choosing a favorite color.  Next the student must choose whether to add black or white to the chosen color to change its intensity.  Each time more white or black is added to the chosen color, another sample is added to the paint strip being created. Once the strips are dry, the students can then use them for the language arts coloring connection of creating more colorful writing.

WRITING:  A general way to approach this coloring connection is to list a bunch of “boring” adjectives like “nice” or “fun” and assign one to each student with the challenge of finding “more colorful” words with similar meanings.  To make it a more personal exercise, you could have samples of each students’ writing and charge each child with finding a boring or overused word from his/her sample and then researching other words that could add some color and/or variety to that piece.  This could extend to other parts of speech (verbs like “said” and “like” come to mind!).  It would be so interesting to see what words the students identify from the writing samples as “boring” or “tired/overused” and then hear the conversations between students as they try to decide which words to place where on this hierarchy of colorfulness!

SOCIAL STUDIES:  Now that the students have grappled with colorful language and related that to intensity of color, this line of thinking can be extended to thinking about people and eras being described as colorful.  I know that history always became more interesting to me when my teacher or an author tried to paint a more complete picture of a person or period in history by telling colorful details. What makes a person or time period more colorful?  What about this person makes them colorful and memorable to you?  This is also true, of course, of fictitious characters in literature.  Ooo, another connection!

Editor’s Note: this piece originally appeared on on October 3rd from author Deirdre Moore.

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