5 PBL and the Arts Lesson Ideas

2 Min Read  •  Project Based Learning

PBL arts lesson ideas that connect with the arts can be few and far between.  Project-based learning is such a comprehensive teaching approach and we often wonder: how do we fit this in?  Fit it in with our content, our curriculum, or our own teaching philosophies.  Our resident PBL and the Arts expert, Brianne Gidcumb, has shared a wealth of resources and ideas for integrating project-based learning and the arts over the past several years.  Today, we’re sharing an easy way to pull this all together and take the first step forward.  Here are 5 PBL arts lesson ideas that connect with the arts and can be used in any classroom!

Each of these arts lesson ideas contains a connection between one content area and an arts area, as well as the corresponding anchor strand from the National Arts Standards.  Additionally, you’ll find a driving question for each connected area and a project arts lesson ideas you can use to jumpstart your thinking.


Strand: Creating

Driving Question: How can the principle of symmetry influence the creation of an original piece of choreography?

Project Lesson Idea:  Students will work collaboratively to create a dance that effectively demonstrates symmetry, in both locomotor and non-locomotor movements, as individuals, pairs, groups and informs.


Strand: Producing

Driving Question: How can presenting or sharing media artworks in a public format help a media artist learn and grow?

Project Lesson Idea: Create a media project to accompany a piece of art which incorporate geometric concepts (i.e., Mondrian perimeter vs. area). Record an artist statement, explaining the mathematical process and use the ShowMe app to create a digital display of their creation.

3. MUSIC and E/LA

Strand: Responding

Driving Question: How can we interpret the intent of a piece of music?

Project Lesson Idea: Engage students in a guided listening experience. Have them write a monologue as a “character” from the piece (the composer, the performer, an instrument, etc). Present the monologue to a small group, and journal about the choices they made in their creation.


Strand: Connecting

Driving Question: We usually see theatre represent stories related to people, times, and places. How can theatre be used to communicate a story related to a science-related topic?

Project Lesson Idea: Students research plays and stories related to topics in the sciences. Have students collaboratively choose a topic or assign topics related to a scientific unit of study, and have groups create scripts that tell a story related to that unit of study.


Strand: Presenting

Driving Question: What criteria are considered when selecting work for presentation, a portfolio or a collection?

Project Lesson Idea: Students curate artifacts related to a social studies topic. Include music, visual art, videos, digital media, information about important individuals from the time/culture, and cultural/historical items in their exhibit. Artifacts should be cataloged and given museum tags, and students should be able to act as a docent to visitors.

Hopefully, this chart and examples make the overwhelm with PBL a little bit easier and provide a way to get started with this approach in your own classroom.  Also, be sure to check out the EdCloset online course Project Based Learning in the Arts, which provides templates, sample arts lesson ideas, and resources to help navigate project-based learning through the lens of arts integration.

What are some ways that you currently use project-based learning in your classroom?  Let us know in the comments below!