Three Ways to Integrate American History and Art

Washington Crossing the Delaware

Do your students get a hazy look in their eye when it’s time to learn about American History? Despite being full of fascinating stories, social studies can be a hard topic to bring to life for kids who only think of memorizing names and dates.  Taking a more hands on approach works well for the advancement of progress in this subject. Integrating art into classroom learning is one of the most successful ways to ensure kids retain the information they learn. These are three of our favorite ways to use art and history together for a positive learning experience.

Design a Stamp

Designing a stamp is a great way to teach kids about history because it’s a project that’s easily adaptable to any time period. Create a jumbo stamp with markers and poster board which examines a particular state or historical event. For a state based stamp, have your students look up important contributions of the state, any notable events that took place there and what landmarks set it apart.

You can also choose to adapt your stamps to a specific event like The Boston Tea Party. Students learn the significance of the event and then illustrate it in a way they feel is most commemorative. By allowing students to choose what images to include on their stamp, you can examine their reading comprehension. It also gives them a fun chance to learn a lot about any particular event.

Life Sized History Friends

Historical figures can truly come alive when you create them in life size versions. Let your students select an important American figure they want to study. Enlarge photocopies of their chosen figure’s face and let your students create a body out of construction paper and other materials. Each body should reflect the correct time period and style of their famous American. Allow your students to be as creative as they can, using clothes, objects and classroom materials to bring their creations to life. Hang the finished products on the wall and have each child “introduce” their historical pal. This is a great place to tie in a research paper or test prep too.

Recreate a Classic

Artists are some of the best record keepers and lavish storytellers, so familiarizing your students with classic works of art is like a visual history lesson. Studying a painting is a great step to understanding what was going on during a particular time period. Recreating the picture is even better. Choose some important pieces like “Paul Revere” by John Singleton Copley or “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze and prompt your students to recreate them in various mediums. Use pastels, paints, markers, watercolors or pencils to get as many details as possible. Have your students explain the importance of their work of art and tell them how it fits into the larger picture of history.

To take the project a step further, let students be the record keepers for modern times and challenge them to create a work of art that symbolizes modern history as they see it.

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Nona Taut

Nona Taut is Sales Director for Makit Products, located in Dallas, Texas.

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