Amy Traggianese | May 2016

Learning Math From a Different (Art) Angle

Last month, I was planning an arts integration unit with two fourth grade teachers. For students who are learning math with higher level concepts, the arts can be a very natural connector. In our school, these once-a-week planning sessions are called HOT Blocks. Classes work with their classroom teacher and me (the art teacher) for about nine weeks to learn reading, writing, math or science concepts through art.

I have worked with fourth grade content before, but I never taught angles in math. All I could remember was obtuse, acute and right angles. Time for me to review my CCSS for math (and figure out how to fit in cubism.)

diff angles

Observing these students at work during their regular math lesson was very useful. I could see how they were applying their knowledge of geometry and how they used protractors. One of the teachers had the brilliant idea to use cubism for our arts integration lessons, known as HOT Blocks. Fabulous!

We decided to review angles, have students look at, learn about and critique cubist art, and then the students would find angles in one of the art works.

Next, the students learned about cubist art, Picasso, and viewed and talked about many of his cubist works. The classroom teachers and I discovered


Factory at Horto de Ebro, 1909 by Pablo Picasso



Here are the Common Core Math and National Arts Standards that we addressed in this lesson:

CCSS: Draw and identify lines and angles, and classify shapes by properties of their lines and angles.

Draw points, lines, line segments, rays, angles (right, acute, obtuse), and perpendicular and parallel lines. Identify these in two-dimensional figures.
Classify two-dimensional figures based on the presence or absence of parallel or perpendicular lines, or the presence or absence of angles of a specified size. Recognize right triangles as a category, and identify right triangles.
Recognize a line of symmetry for a two-dimensional figure as a line across the figure such that the figure can be folded along the line into matching parts. Identify line-symmetric figures and draw lines of symmetry.
National Core Arts Standards:

Responding: Understanding and evaluating how the arts convey meaning

Anchor Standard #7. Perceive and analyze artistic work.

Anchor Standard #8. Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.

Anchor Standard #9. Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work.

Connecting:Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context.

Anchor Standard #10. Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.

Students had their own copy of Picasso’s Factory at Horto de Ebro to find, measure, color and label different angles. They enjoyed this lesson and reviewed geometry simultaneously! Awesome.

angle work

How are you integrating the arts into mathematics? I’d love to find out!

that fourth grade students love talking about abstract art! Pretty cool.

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].