Easy Ways to Integrate the Arts Into Your Curriculum

Susan from the PD Department

Arts Integration: An Essential Component of Education

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts defines arts integration as “an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process that connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both.”


How the Arts Benefit Our Students

All children naturally learn by acting, playing, singing, and exploring their own world. When teachers integrate art into the language arts curriculum, they tap into students’ natural learning style and help them apply it to their education. Teachers can use artistic, creative activities to make natural connections to the arts using everyday strategies that make learning come alive.


Easy Ways to Integrate the Arts Into Your Balanced Literacy Program

Children’s literature with an arts theme provides a range of standards-based literacy strategies that promote listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Use these literacy activities in your curriculum:

  • Read-alouds
  • Shared reading
  • Independent reading time


Some of my favorite books for arts integration are:

I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly by Nikki Smith This classic folk song is my all-time favorite. It is a great book to use during shared reading that integrates rhyme and repetition into music. Students can also be introduced to the art forms of watercolor and collage using the book’s illustrations.

Grade level Equivalent: 1.9

Lexile® Measure: AD250L


Vincent’s Colors by Victoria Charles Written to educate readers about the artist Vincent van Gogh, this book will help students develop phonemic awareness through descriptions arranged in rhyme. The descriptive words used in context lend opportunities for the teacher to develop mini-lessons for writing using descriptive language.

Reading Level:1.7


The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds This is the story of a little girl who feels she can’t express herself in an artistic form. The book will provide teachers with an opportunity to demonstrate how students—including English Learners—can clarify and communicate thoughts, ideas, and feelings through drawing. It is a fable about the creative spirit that is alive in all of us.

Grade level Equivalent: 2.1

Lexile® Measure: AD500L


From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg In this chapter book that students can read during independent reading time, we discover that protagonist Claudia is bored, so she runs away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Teachers can have students view The Met’s website and research the museum’s works that are mentioned throughout the story, leading into an independent informational writing activity or a group research project.

Grade level Equivalent: 4.7

Lexile® Measure: 700L


Barnyard Dance! by Sandra Boynton This is a fun read-aloud that introduces students to rhyme, instruments, and dance. It is a great way to get students up and moving after enjoying the book. They can role-play as the characters when the book is reread to them. This provides an opportunity for teachers to engage students in conversation based on character traits and character actions.

Reading Level:1.3

Lexile® Measure: 400L


Reader’s Theater Available for Grades 1 through 6, these books provide an excellent way for students to demonstrate their comprehension of complex text through acting. Benchmark Literacy’s whole-group instruction block uses leveled text in every three-week unit to engage students’ interest and develop comprehension.


It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of the arts in education, and we’re here to help you include them easily in your lessons. For more information and ideas, please check out the sites below.


Additional Resources:

Education Closet offers valuable information, including professional development, lesson plans, and resources for teachers to reference when integrating the arts into their curriculum.


Edutopia, a site dedicated to ‘showcasing what works in education,’ offers many best-practices ideas for arts integration in the classroom.

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