Amy Traggianese | December 2015

Colorful Arts Integration Ideas

So, you want to do some colorful arts integration with your young students, but don’t know where to start? Do you think you are not creative enough to increase student achievement through the colorful arts? Well, don’t believe that for one minute! Here are some easy ideas to do with your whole class or with small groups:

Write sight words with marker! Yes, I know this sounds way too easy to even work. However, in my own experience, it does! Imagine being 5, or 6, or 7, and having to write in drab pencil every day. Boring, right? I had a small group of first graders SO excited about their sight words on drawing paper. They called it a “word wallet” and carried them around in their pockets. And, their teachers reported that this helped them practice and remember more sight words! Awesome.

Colorful Arts Integration Ideas, Education Closet

A “word wallet”

Colorful Arts Integration Ideas, Education Closet

Writing sight words is more fun in color!

“Write” your letters, words, numbers or number facts with colored modeling clay! Using this medium helps with letter and number formation, while helping develop those little hand and finger muscles. I show the students how to warm up the clay, and roll it to make coils. Then, students use the coils to make their letters and numbers. It helps to have an alphabet or number line by each student to minimize reversals.

Colorful Arts Integration Ideas, Education Closet

First grade students love using modeling clay to form letters and numerals.

Use washable finger paint!

No? Oh, I know what you are thinking: WAY too messy for a classroom! Well, you can have the finger paint without the mess by putting it inside two gallon size plastic zipper bags. Lay it flat and write letters, words, or numbers on it with your finger!

Or, if you’re really daring, you can put a tablespoon of finger paint on a tray or directly on the table for students to “write” in it. I have done this on trays in the art room while co-teaching with a classroom teacher. With two of us, it was easy to check everyone’s work and easy to clean up because my art room has four sinks. (Yes, four!) I showed the students how to put their tray down in the bottom of the sink and scrub it with a sponge, then scrub their hands with the sponge. It took about ten minutes to clean up. If I were in a regular classroom I would probably do this in small groups. It would be much more manageable this way!

Colorful Arts Integration Ideas, Education Closet

The number lines are laminated, for obvious reasons!

Have you used art materials to help students learn? Using different mediums can help students retain many different concepts. I’d love to try some new colorful arts ideas with my students. (See, I told you you could do it!)

About the Author

Amy Traggianese has been an elementary visual arts educator in CT since 1995. A former kindergarten and first grade teacher, she has over 30 years of arts integration experience. Amy specializes in integrating language arts, math, science and technology into the choice art studio. She is an arts integration coach for The Institute for ARts Integration and STEAM. Amy is an active educator voice on Facebook and Twitter and loves a good Twitter chat. Connect with her on social media or at [email protected].