Amanda Koonlaba | May 2018

Are You In Danger of Making This End-of-Year Mistake?

The end-of-year can be insanely busy. That’s normal!  Unfortunately, though, many teachers get so caught up in the hustle that they make one fatal mistake.

That mistake? Not planning arts integration lessons for the coming year.

I know, I know. That may seem like a ludicrous statement. After all, we are wrapping up paperwork, finishing assessments, entering grades, and cleaning. We’ve got field day and awards day and end-of-year conferences with parents. There are field trips and art shows. It might seem impossible to even begin to think about the upcoming school year, but I can promise you that if you do this one thing you will be able to rest easier over the summer AND you’ll be set up for success when the new school year starts.

Plan out Your Major Arts Integration Lessons

There’s no need to plan out the full curriculum via pacing guides and curriculum maps. That would be way too much to tackle at the end of the year. I suggest focusing on your biggest and most significant arts integration lessons.

When I consult with schools and teachers on the arts and arts-integrated curriculums, I usually recommend planning out one lesson per grading period with the understanding that opportunities to use the arts pop up much more often than that. Ideally, the arts should be embedded in everything a school does and teachers will still plan lessons throughout the new school year that use the arts. It just really helps if there’s a plan in place for at least one lesson per grading period, especially if the teachers or schools are new to using arts integration.

This will help you make sure the arts don’t get lost in the hustle and bustle of the school year. Let’s face it! The end-of-year is really hectic, but so are many other parts of the school year, and we all know how hard it is to stop and plan something last minute.

What to Plan

You don’t have to write an extensive lesson plan by the end-of-year. You can add this into your written lesson plans as you are writing them next year. However, here are the three key pieces you need to plan out right now:


You need to know what skill you want to address through the arts. I recommend looking at one that is traditionally hard for you to teach or one that is always difficult for students to grasp. For instance, one school that I worked with always struggled with theme in English Language Arts. Theme was a skill that was difficult across all of the grade levels, which was repeatedly reflected in student assessment data. That made theme a perfect choice for planning ahead for arts-integrated instruction.

Art Form

Next, think about what art form should be paired with the skill you want to address. Many times the arts vocabulary overlaps with other content. This vocabulary is a great access point for planning an arts-integrated lesson. (You can find a FANTASTIC and FREE article about using vocabulary to access the arts on our website.) Looking for this overlap will help you decide which art form would work best for the skill you want to teach. From there, you can find a specific project or lesson to use.

Of course, I recommend any lesson seed you find on the Education Closet website, and you should most definitely look into the IntegratED curriculum for  comprehensive lesson resources. Did you know about our Art Integration Kits? Those could be the done-for-you solution you need.  And don’t forget, you can always reach out to us here at Education Closet for help!


Once you have the previous things in mind, you need to make a list of supplies. This is crucial because you don’t want to wait until the last minute to try to round up the supplies you will need. If you go ahead and figure this out before school gets out, you will have time to determine what supplies you already have access to and what supplies you will need to acquire. Once you know what you will have to acquire, you can figure out how to do so. The first place you should look is within your school. Ask your principal for help. Then, check out this informative (and free) article from Education Closet on funding. The article mentions and I highly recommend Donors Choose, but you need to go ahead and get that going right now. It takes time for those to get fully funded, which means you can’t wait until the last minute!

Set Yourself Up for Success

I can’t say enough about how much you deserve to be set up for success. When you, the teacher, are successful, your students are successful. It’s WIN-WIN. Take a few moments before the end-of-year and do this one thing: plan your arts integration for the next school year. You will be so glad you did!

For more tips like these, check out our online trainings. In Managing the Arts Integrated Classroom, you will learn more about planning for arts integration as well as how to set up your entire classroom for success.

About the Author

Amanda Koonlaba, Ed. S. is an educator and educational consultant with over 12 years of experience teaching both visual art and regular education. Her career has been driven by the power of the arts to reach all learners. She is a published author and frequent speaker/presenter at education conferences. Amanda was named the Elementary Art Teacher of the Year for the state of Mississippi in 2016 and received the Arts Integration Service Award from the Mississippi Whole Schools Initiative (Mississippi Arts Commission) in 2015. She holds an Elementary and Middle Childhood Art certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. As a coach for The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM, Amanda is on a mission to ensure every student in America has access to a high-quality arts-based education. She blogs at