Susan Riley | May 2016

Mandalas Music and Math STEAM Unit

When we talk about arts integration and STEAM, sometimes we forget that integration can (and should!) happen between fine arts areas too. We spend so much time thinking about standards that naturally connect across the fine arts, and other areas, that we bypass the many ways that the fine arts connect with each other.

The Three “M”‘s:

For our brand new unit, Mandalas Math and Music, we’re highlighting some ways that music and visual art connect using math as the common denominator. In this unit, students are working on recognizing and creating mathematical rules using patterns, repetition and rhythm. Students explore this concept through studying 12-bar blues and mandalas. We look at ways that both of these artistic expressions utilize mathematical rules in their structure.

Maybe my favorite part of this whole math and art integration unit is the final project. After exploring the artistic format and math used in each arts area, students create a combined artistic composition. They create a 12-bar blues pattern and then create a mandala, which visually demonstrates the 12-bar blues pattern itself. When they present their final project to the class, they play the blues pattern while they show their mandala and explain how they used patterns, repetition, and rhythms as mathematical rules in the structure of their piece.

Looking for more math and music lesson plans like this one? Check out our online class, Designed to STEAM for templates, lessons, ideas and resources you can use right away.

As with all of our units, this is FREE for you to use. You’ll just need to either login or register in order to access the whole unit.

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