44 Ways to Create Arts-Based Experiences

To truly embrace the arts integration and STEAM approach, it’s important to immerse yourself (your team and your students) in arts-based experiences. How often have you thought “it’d be nice to do something I actually enjoy for a change”?  We get so caught up with our responsibilities, testing requirements and life that we let the seemingly less important task of creativity fall away.

But the fact is, if you don’t fill your creative well, you’re setting yourself up for a rough road ahead.  When you don’t have an opportunity to explore new ways of expression and the joy of being creative, your health and well-being suffer.  You sleep less, you eat more.  You feel constantly stressed without an outlet for release.

As much as this is true for us as teachers and adults, the same holds true for our students.  They also need time and space to explore their own creativity and experience that of others.  Here’s a few ideas to help you bring arts-based experiences in (and out) of your classroom.


Developing community partnerships can enhance your current program at little to no cost.  Plus, it’s a great way for everyone to learn what’s happening right in your local area.  Here’s a few place you can connect with for these kinds of partnerships:

๏ Local arts museums

๏ Local/regional arts councils

๏ Local music halls/orchestras

๏ Local arts businesses and organizations

๏ Libraries

๏ Pop-up art museums

๏ Community theaters


Have you ever brought in a teaching artist or hosted a residency?  It’s an invaluable experience.  You’ll learn so much by having these artists come into your classroom and your students will be able to extend their learning with real-world examples.  Here are places where you can start to seek out those opportunities:

๏ State arts councils

๏ Young Audiences

๏ Local artisans

๏ Colleges/Universities


Not sure what kind of residency would be a good fit?  Here’s a great (starter) list of possibilities:

๏ Fiber Arts

๏ Ceramics

๏ Cultural dances

๏ Miming

๏ Slam Poetry

๏ Beatboxing

๏ Steel Drums

๏ World Music

๏ Recyclable Materials Art

๏ Puppetry

๏ Rapping/Writing

๏ Playwriting

๏ Instrument building

๏ Sculpture

๏ Choreography


What if you can’t afford to take a field trip or go to a local museum with your students? Bring the arts to them in a virtual way! Here’s some places that offer a virtual home for their artists to share with your students:



๏ Getty

๏ Annenberg Learner

๏ Metropolitan Museum of Art

๏ NY Philharmonic

๏ MoMa

๏ Smithsonian Online Exhibitions


There’s no real substitute for hands-on making and performing. But if you need a supplement for studio-time with your students, we’d definitely recommend these online sources:

The Virtual Instructor

Deep Space Sparkle

Quaver Music


There’s a lot you can do to bring these arts-based experiences to your school.  Here’s our best tips to ensure whatever you do is a success!

Experiences for Teachers:

  • Hold a professional development day at one of the local shops/museums/ organizations
  • Engage artisans and museum docents as PD providers for teachers throughout the year
  • Provide collaborative planning time for teachers to work on lessons while local organizations provide special programming for students

Experiences for Students:

  • Interview and host 1-2 artists-in-residencies each year which are aligned to your overarching goals (try to include different levels each time)
  • Use online tools and resources throughout the year in between residencies and special programming
  • Provide arts-focused assemblies throughout the year
  • Host arts-nights that bring together community organizations, families and teaching staff in arts creation and showcases.

No matter which options you choose, it’s time to get creative!  Take this list and start exploring all the possibilities available in and through the arts.

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