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Curriculum center

Explore this collection of arts-integrated lessons written by BRAINworks teachers! Lessons are public domain, free to download and use and adapt in your own classroom. Each is aligned to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and include alignment to the levels of Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK) to illustrate the rigor of student tasks.

All lessons incorporate accommodations for Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Some curriculum documents are lesson plans, other are Learning Stories: lessons that BRAINworks teachers have implemented and then returned to to add reflections and insights that came from teaching the lesson. Learning Story reflections are denoted in orange text within the document.

Making Music with Our Bodies

PREK - MUSIC and SCIENCE

Students will explore ways to make sounds with their bodies and learn about body percussion. Independent exploration will help students understand that their bodies can be used as a tool to make sound. Students will be asked to express their understanding visually, orally, auditorily, and kinesthetically, and participate individually.

Move with Me and See What I Am Trying To Be

PREK - DRAMA and ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS

This lesson, designed for an art class of fifteen PreK students, combines the theatre/acting arts standard of creating characters through physical movement, gestures, and sound traits with the PreK reading standards for informational text when exploring onomatopoeia. Students will work with a partner and small groups developing positive social-emotional relationships while they create animal movements to represent onomatopoeia associated with given animals. Students will become more aware of their body and how it moves as they manipulate their body to create the various movements to represent animals and the sounds they make. They will also justify why they chose their movement to represent the animal.

Guess Who?

PREK - DRAMA and SCIENCE

In this two-day lesson, preschool and special education students become natural actors as they use pantomime, which is the art of acting without words, to provide gestures as clues showing attributes of an animal for a partner to guess. Students will wear a headband with the photo of an animal, and class partners will act out the animal. They will also demonstrate knowledge of attributes of animals through pantomime and on an Animal Classification Sheet. This lesson is for Day 2.

Ten Little Leaves Song

KINDERGARTEN - MUSIC and MATH

In this lesson progression, students will work to apply their knowledge of the backwards counting progression of numbers from ten. This will conclude with expansion upon the Fall song, Five Little Leaves, creating new verses to turn the song into Ten Little Leaves.

Math Movement

GRADE 2 - DANCE and MATH

This lesson is an introductory lesson on math and movement. Students will learn interpretive movements to mathematical equations while exploring the relationship between addition and subtraction. They will then create interpretive movements to represent a mathematical equation they choose.

Town Meeting

GRADE 3 - DRAMA and SOCIAL STUDIES

Using the Norman Rockwell painting Freedom of Speech, students will be introduced to the idea of a town meeting as a government proceeding, as well as the art analysis method known as Visual Thinking Strategies. After analyzing the painting for artistic choices that draw the eye to various elements of the painting and discussing what is happening in the painting, the teacher will provide students with the background story of a town meeting in Vermont. Students will take on the poses of the subjects of the painting and discuss how they might feel if they had been there. Once the concept of town meeting as the people’s voice in local government is developed through discussion and reading of text, students will act out a “class meeting” to discuss important issues.

How Matter & Energy Transfer in an Ecosystem

GRADE 5 - DANCE and SCIENCE

Students create a visual arts poster showing how matter and energy transfer in a food chain in order to more effectively understand the basics of this concept. Then the students work in small groups to choreograph a dance to show how energy transfers from the sun, directly to producers, to consumers, to decomposers, and then back to producers to start the cycle again. Through dance this cycle of energy transfer is illustrated with body movements to deepen students’ comprehension of the process, and teamwork and problem-solving skills are fostered.

Musical Self-Portrait

GRADE 6 - MUSIC and TECHNOLOGY

Prior to this lesson, students will have instruction on how to use a free, web based digital audio workstation called Soundation. After learning about movements of music, students will use Soundation to create a three- movement musical composition that reflects who they are as a person. Students will take into account personality traits, relationship roles, and activities when considering the question: how can someone depict themselves accurately? The resulting musical composition will be called a “musical self-portrait.”

It's A Matter of Perspective

GRADE 7 - VISUAL ARTS and MATH

Students will observe and discuss art through the lens of balance and perspective, then create scale drawings to incorporate new features and reinterpret how the addition shifts perspective, balance, and/or meaning. They will explore famous paintings from the collection at the Clark Art Institute, consider how scale and proportion influence the overall impact of these paintings, and reimagine an artwork with different sense of scale and proportion by adding elements and/or changing sizes. They will then consider the effect of these changes on the overall feeling communicated by the new, revised, work of art.

Product and Advertisement Design

GRADE 7 - VISUAL ARTS and ENGINEERING

Prior lessons introduce students to the use of language to create influence in our culture. Students become familiar with the power of connotative language to sway a viewer’s opinion. This lesson builds on that by adding the influence of images and asking students to explore the role of the designing engineer. Students learn about the power of marketing by investigating advertisements and propaganda posters. In small groups, students design a prototype of an original product that can solve an everyday problem. Then they develop an accompanying advertisement to experience the whole process of creating and marketing their ideas. 

You're Keeping Me in Suspense!

GRADE 9 - DRAMA and ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS

In this lesson students explore the author’s use of suspense in the short story “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connel. This lesson occurs after the students have read the story. Students demonstrate understanding of suspense by enacting tableaux connected to the text. Tableaux is French for “pictures,” and is a static dramatic scene created by using one or more actors or models. By creating a living picture of suspense of the story, students find the meaning of the suspense created by the text.

Collage in the Time of COVID-19

GRADES 11 & 12 - VISUAL ARTS and ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS

In 2020 the Norman Rockwell Museum had an exhibition called Finding Home: Four Artists’ Journeys. It featured artworks and online interviews, rich in discussion about what it meant to “find home.” Because of COVID-19, school communities carried out stay-at-home orders in 2020. This lesson is a perfect way to explore what home means to students in a collective experience. Students watch the museum’s videos, look at the artworks about home, watch teacher-led demonstrations on collage with found materials, and problem solve to create their own collages. This lesson can be taught as an in-classroom experience, or as an online learning experience.

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