Arts Integration for Elementary School Students

For five years, the FSO and Woodburn Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia have collaborated to create a program that integrates arts of all genres with student classes such as Language Arts, Social Studies, Library, Spanish, Physical Education and Student Counseling. The program culminates in a FSO Masterworks concert at the George Mason Center for the Performing Arts which includes the music students have studied and an exhibit in the Art Center's lobby of the art the students have created. Students and their families receive free tickets and transportation to hear the music performed live and to see their own artwork exhibited.

Recently Woodburn students had the opportunity to connect American History content they were learning about the Civil War to music that the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra performed in concert. This multidisciplinary program began with students in music class listening to the music and analyzing lyrics of works that would soon be performed in an upcoming FSO concert. The program emphasized that composers use their own experiences to both create their music and express their emotions. Students then researched the composers in library class, discussed the projects in homeroom, and created theme-related art in art class. To enrich this experience, teachers selected themes that were present in the Civil war and are also commonly expressed in the arts such as freedom, unity, division & separation, and honor & integrity and that are also part of our heritage and daily experience.

In art class, students chose a theme, for example freedom. They created a landscape picture which expressed a personal metaphor of their theme or told a personal story essentially exploring a moment in their own life when they felt connected to their chosen theme.

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In physical education class students created movement pieces to represent their selected themes. In Library, students read historical fiction books drawing connections to the themes. In Spanish, students recently studied the Salvadorian Civil War, identifying the presence of these themes in history. Students wrote poetry inspired by their artwork to further explore these themes and the school counselor engaged students in discussions about how these themes can help one become a resilient individual.

The FSO and the Woodburn Elementary School for the Fine & Communicative Arts are committed to expanding this program and continuing to discover new ways to integrate art into our students' education and their everyday activities.