When I hear a young child say “I hate math” or “math is hard,” I am always perplexed. Most children know more about math and use it more
in their everyday lives than they realize.
Picture two children who are given a snack
and asked to share it: a sandwich cut into
four equal pieces; a plate with ten grapes;
three cookies. Now, any two children I
know would be highly interested in making sure that the snack was shared equally.
They would divide the sandwich pieces so
that each got one half. They would count
the cookies, giving each person one cookie
and, without even thinking about it, break
the third cookie in half for sharing. They
might count all the grapes and make two
neat piles of five each or “deal them out”
like cards: one for you, one for me, until
they were all gone. Then they would
count how many grapes each received to
make sure they were equal. As they ate
each grape, they might notice how many
were left on the plate. Without thinking
about it, they have employed the usefulness of math in a sensory way, in the real
world, to achieve a sense of justice in the
equal distribution of their snack.
I had the good fortune to work as an art
teacher for several years in a Chicago Public
School that had an integrated curriculum
based on the belief that children learn with
all their senses. ere were two aspects of
this that interested me. e first was that art
class was used to augment learning in core
subjects like reading, math, science and so-
cial studies which was a very interesting way
for me to refocus the art curriculum. e
second was that art was no longer seen as
just a separate sort of play time or prep time
for teachers but was elevated to an impor-
tant part of the learning day. e ideas for
the Draw Plus series arose from this class-
room experience. To develop these lessons,
I had to determine how art intesected with
subjects such as math and science.
We all know the old adage “a picture is
worth a thousand words,” but we could
add to that. A picture is also worth many
math concepts such as geometric shapes,
patterns, relative size, quantity, and position; and scientific observations of plant
growth, life cycles, seasonal changes, and
characteristics of organisms. Creating lessons with these concepts can help students
enhance their math learning in a fun way.
It’s also a great way to reach students who
are visual learners or who are struggling
with traditional ways of learning.
Integrating art with math and science
Kids love to draw. Why not harness that motivation to teach abstract concepts?
by Freddie Levin
Freddie Levin’s Draw Plus books use drawing activities to teach math and science concepts.
You can preview them on Amazon.com. Peel Productions: www.drawbooks.com/drawplus/