Arts Integration in Practice


What are some arts integration connections to math?

Classroom Example: Drama

Classroom Example

Integrating Geometry and Visual Art in Kindergarten and First Grade

Arts integration provides an engaging and effective way to achieve standards in both math/geometry and visual arts. By analyzing the work of Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky, students developed math skills of identifying, classifying, and describing the shape, size, color, and location of geometric figures. They also developed visual art skills of identifying line, color, and shape and spatial relationships. All the knowledge and skills gained through the analysis of Kandinsky’s art were then applied as students created class mural and individual collages. This example follows students at Bailey’s Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences (Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia) as they engage in a six-step process for learning about geometry and visual arts.

Teaching Artist Interviews

Meet two Kennedy Center teaching artists who connect math with music and movement/dance.

Music/Movement Example (grades Pre-K-6)
Marcia Daft points to the conceptual parallel between number concepts and music and movement. She describes how to make number concepts highly concrete, visual, social, auditory, and kinesthetic to help all students learn, from the most challenged to the most advanced.

Dance Example (grades 3-8)
Karl Schaffer, with his colleague Erik Stern, engage students understanding mathematical concepts, such as pattern, through “physical problem-solving” with everyday gestures and movement. Applications are made to understanding least common multiple and types and patterns of symmetry.


Editors & Producers

Amy Duma
Director, Teacher and School Programs
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Lynne B. Silverstein
Senior Program Consultant
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Kenny Neal
Manager, Digital Education Resources

Marcia Daft is a Kennedy Center teaching artist. She is the Founder and President of Moving Through Math and Moving Through Science. Her company produces award-winning children’s books, instructional materials, and videos that bring arts-integrated learning to life. Marcia’s teaching methods have been used in schools for 20 years. Ms. Daft worked for 10 years as a Master Artist for the Wolf Trap Institute and has written more than 20 children's educational booklets with CD’s for The Smithsonian Institution and the National Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Daft holds a BSE in engineering from Duke University, a MA in music from The University of Chicago, and a Master's in Dalcroze Eurhythmics - a technique of integrating music and dance. marciadaft.com

Karl Schaffer is a Kennedy Center teaching artist. He teaches dance as an independent artist, mathematics at De Anza College, and has a Ph.D. in mathematics from UC Santa Cruz. He and ERIK STERN co-direct the Dr. Schaffer and Mr. Stern Dance Ensemble, which tours internationally. Their dances explore ideas ranging from Shakespeare to the extinction of the dinosaurs, from basketball to science. Their show “Two Guys Dancing About Math,” has been performed 500 times throughout North America. Their book Math Dance, with Scott Kim, is a guidebook for teachers on how to combine mathematics and dance. They have been funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, and Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County. mathdance.org

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