How Arts Education Helps Kids – An Elementary Lesson Plan

Did you know that all human cultures around the world have some form of music and dance? Imagine a world without music, without your favorite songs, without movies and TV shows, without novels, or (gasp!) without Hamilton. If your clothes didn’t have patterns or there were no funny t-shirts. Even businesses and schools have logos and other graphics that were designed by someone who studied art. These are just some examples of the ways in which art and creativity are a part of our everyday lives. Despite being such a big part of our everyday lives, art education programs are often the first to be eliminated when school districts need to save money. Keeping math, science, and language arts programs going is important, but what if you’re a budding artist? And what if learning about art actually helps you be a better student? Learn more about how arts education helps kids in many ways.

How Arts Education Helps Kids

Be sure to check out all of our amazing art project tutorials for kids, including projects inspired by Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh, Kahlo, Dali, O’Keeffe, Warhol and Klimt!

How Arts Education Helps Kids

One of the great things about studying and practicing art is that it looks like play but teaches you other skills while you’re having fun. Here are some of the many benefits of learning art in school:

Artistic skills help us learn at an early age

Human beings are visual learners, which means that we take in lots of information using our eyes, starting from infancy. When preschool students learn to use scissors, identify colors, and draw basic shapes, they’re not just using artistic skills but also learning how to work their fingers and to basic language skills.

Cultural awareness

Studying art is a great way to learn about other cultures, whether in another country or even a different neighborhood than yours. Often issues that are important to a society at a given point in history are expressed through art, or people look to the past to try and better understand history, as Lin-Manuel Miranda did with Hamilton. “Outsider art”

Creative thinking

Creative thinking isn’t just essential to art, it’s also a life skill that you can use in many other areas. Whether learning to paint, sculpt, play an instrument, or write a poem, you’re developing skills like innovation (a new idea or way of doing things) and improvisation (making or doing something without planning beforehand). Just as math is important for engineers and scientists, being able to think creatively is a great skill for people in business.

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Better grades and test scores

According to the Arts Education Partnership, research shows that students who study art in school get better grades, do better on standardized tests, and improve their reading skills. Because art works across many other disciplines – reading, making guesses, communicating with others – it helps you boost other skills without realizing it, which is a fun way to learn that sticks! Studies also show that kids who study the arts also feel better about being at school.

Cooperation and communication skills

Many art projects and after-school activities are done in a group setting, which is true for how many people work as adults in their careers. If you’re part of a group that has to paint a mural or perform in a school play, you have to learn how to work with others, how to solve problems when they come up, and how to communicate with each other throughout the process. Talking about your art projects and being able to explain what inspired you to choose a certain color or to improvise a design also boosts your communication skills. These are valuable skills that help you throughout your life, at school and beyond.

Critical thinking skills

At first, it might seem like creativity and logical thought don’t go hand in hand, but once again, this is where arts education helps students in surprising and effective ways. In an age of “fake news,” learning how to think critically–examining facts and data in order to better understand a subject–is more important than ever. Being able to talk about the process of making art, and to examine what choices an artist made when creating something supports critical thinking skills.

Examples of careers in the arts

Can you think of any artistic careers that aren’t listed here?

Fine artist – Painter, Sculptor, Ceramicist
Dancer
Choreographer
Graphic Designer
Photographer
Fashion Designer
Illustrator
Singer
Actor
Writer – Fiction, Poetry, Script-writing
Director – Stage and Screen
Musician
Art Teacher
Art Director
Museum Curator
Art Therapist

Arts Education Vocabulary Words

Critical Thinking – Examining facts and data to better understand something
Cultural Awareness – Learning about how people in other cultures live, think, and celebrate – including people in your own community
Improvisation – Being able to think of ideas on the spot, without prior planning
Innovation – Coming up with new ideas
Cooperation – Working with others toward a common goal
Communication – Being able to talk with, write to, or otherwise engage with others so they understand what you mean
Artist – A person skilled in one or more art form (painting, music, etc.)
Painter – An artist who uses paint to create visual art on paper, canvas, or even walls to make murals
Sculptor – An artist who uses physical objects like wood, metal, plastic and other materials to make art by carving, welding, or shaping
Innovation – A new idea or way of doing things
Photographer – An artist who creates by using a camera
Musician – An artist who plays a musical instrument
Actor – An artist who performs on stage or camera
Dancer – An artist who expresses him or herself through dance
Writer – An artist who creates through writing – fiction, poetry, screenwriting, etc.
Singer – An artist who sings
Illustrator – An artist who draws or creates images or pictures to explain or decorate
Graphic Designer – An artist who combines words and images to explain or decorate

Reading Comprehension Questions

  1. _________________ is the process of looking at facts and data in order to better understand a topic. (Critical Thinking)
  2. A ____________________ makes art using a camera (Photographer).
  3. Working together for a common goal is called _________________ (Collaboration).
  4. A person who is skilled in painting, music, writing, or similar creative pursuits is called an ____________. (Artist)
  5. Name at least two benefits of arts education in school.
  6. Working together with others toward a common goal is known as ____________. (Cooperation)
  7. Every human culture around the world has some type of this art form __________. (Dance)
  8. Name three types of creative writing (Fiction, Poetry, Scriptwriting)
  9. An ____________ performs in a play, musical, TV show, or movie. (Actor)
  10. A ______________ creates art using words and images (Graphic Designer)

Art Class Lesson Idea: Make a Mixed Media Collage About Art

Yes, we’re going to make art about art. We’ve explored many types of art careers and forms of artistic expression so far, and now it’s time to make a collage that reflects these different disciplines. You can cut pictures out of magazines, catalogs, or newspapers (just make sure you have permission from your parents or teachers to use them first!), and paint, sketch, or draw different artistic elements, like musical instruments. You can make your collage about one art form, like theater, or a bunch of different ones. This is your chance to innovate and improvise to communicate the value of art using art itself.

Magazines
Newspapers
Catalogs
Glue Sticks
Scissors
Pens and Pencils
Crayons
Markers
Paint
Yarn and Fabric Scraps
Your Imagination!

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Language Arts Lesson Idea: Artist Biography and “Selfie”

People have created art throughout history, from prehistoric cave paintings to your favorite YouTube star. It’s fun and inspiring to learn how people decided to become an artist or pursue work in a creative field. In this assignment, you’ll select an artist and write a brief biography from their perspective, including a hand-drawn “selfie” in a square frame. Include the following details in your biography sheet:

  • The artist’s name
  • Their country
  • The type of art they are best known for
  • An example of one of their most famous works
  • Why you think this artist is important
  • The artist “selfie” – a simple sketch inside of a square frame placed on your worksheet

Early Learning Drawing Books for Kids

Making art easy and accessible to kids is a big part of our mission at Woo! Jr. Kids Activities. Over the years we’ve published two books that give kids a simple, step-by-step process for drawing almost anything. They have sold over 70,000 80,000 copies!

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About the author

Toni McLellan is a writer and podcast host who lives with her husband and three kids in Loveland, Colorado. Learn more at ToniMcLellan.com

View all articles by Toni McLellan

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