Animal Patterns: Integrating Science, Math & Art
Lesson Objective: Use knowledge of patterns to create an animal art piece
Grades K-2 / Arts / Drawing

Thought starters

  1. How does integration benefit both students and teachers?
  2. What strategies can be used to model how to complete a project without tempting students to copy your work?
  3. How does Mr. Bak-Neilsen engage students in age-appropriate reflection?
I think that Mr. Nelson did a fantastic job on integrating several subject areas and allowing time for students to expand their knowledge of each individual subject-area. It's reassuring to bring the children back to the circle to examine the area of study just completed by the class. It allows students to examine where they are at in the process and to ask questions about anything that they do not understand.
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The clear explanations of each process, tools, the visuals, etc. make this a wonderful video for my Foundations of Education course for future educators!
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I like the pacing of the lesson and how students were given so many tools and visual anchor charts to achieve success in their research project.
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I like the patterning and finding lessons that can meet a variety of standards and cross curricular levels and areas. It is really hard sometimes to plan those lessons and the time we have for science, social students, and art in the primary grades is so limited that finding opportunity to integrate is valuable! Thanks for the lesson!
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You mention the Art Smart website. I have looked and I can't find it. Can you give me the url?
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  • Transcript of
    Focus on Patterns
    Teacher: David Bak-Nielsen

    As the days drifts by the blobs start to grow. They

    Transcript of
    Focus on Patterns
    Teacher: David Bak-Nielsen

    As the days drifts by the blobs start to grow. They get bigger and bigger. Each one becomes a tadpole. The tadpoles wiggle out of their eggs. So why don’t we stand up and pretend we’re tadpoles, that we’re wiggle, you’ve got to wiggled hard, you’ve got to get out of that jelly, good stuff and now we’re free, and now let’s go back and we’re in our pond.

    I just try to as much as you can combine different subject areas. With the curriculum being so demanding and so many different that you have to touch you can’t teach them all in isolation.

    Teacher: What do you think happens next in our story? Jonathan?

    Student: It’s going to lose its tail and turn into the frog.

    Teacher: Let’s see. He turns into a frog …

    We first started doing the science coming up with what we were going to be doing there, the lifecycles and changes in animals and then we took that since it was lending itself to so much reading and doing research we thought it would also lend itself nicely into the writing component, the language arts of it. So we’ve been working on that and then it just lent itself very nicely into doing an art activity, which that was the focus of today, as well trying to bring in an area map that we had already covered doing patterning, but this was just a way to go back and reinforce ideas that were already covered and incorporating that into the overall lesson as well.

    Teacher: We have an informational tracking wall that tracks where the students are at so even if they forget when we start in the morning, they just look over, see their name, and they say OK I’m on the drafting stage today for my first piece or I’m just starting my web or I have still to go on the computer and do my research and things like that. So it allows them to know at a glance exactly where they’re at, and also if a student is not aware I can look over and quickly redirect them and say OK, you’ve just finish your web, now you need to move onto your draft.

    Teacher: What was our first step that we had to do?

    Student: Title

    Teacher: Title, yes, so pretty important in our piece of writing to put the title.

    So it allows our audience to know exactly what they’re going to be reading about when they read for us. One of our first steps was to use the graphic organizer to give them not only the purpose for writing but to give them the structure to write. So often they don’t know where to start so we set it out where even if they’re not strong writers at the completion of the activity they’ll have a good quality 12 to 15 sentences that are answering or giving information science-related.

    Teacher: OK, our title is that. What was your interesting fact that you found about penguins?

    Student: They live at the South Pole

    Teacher: What were you investigating? Bunnies. What interesting fact did you find out about bunnies?

    Student: That they can hear from far away.

    Teacher: Is that why they have such big ears?

    By giving them their chance to work independently like that it does allow it for the students who are a little faster working and also allows for the students who are a little more detail driven that want to take a step back, slow down a little bit. So it allows for students to get a small piece of information around instruction. They know what they’re supposed to do. They can go to their desk, work on that. Some students might be done very fast and are ready for the next step. So we bring them all back to the carpet, they get another small piece of information. So instead of it being overwhelming and them not knowing exactly where they’re going to go to next, even if they’ve not done the one before the next instruction is still small enough that they’ll be able to finish up their first instruction and start into their second one.

    Teacher: Do all different animals usually have a certain way that they like to move around? Who can think of another way that different animals might move around? We saw frogs, they hop. Can anyone think of another word to describe how a different animal might move around?

    So we’ve had the students working together at the carpet first, working as a group, talking about the different ways animals move, the different movements that …how different animals maybe adapt to their environment and why they have to move that certain way or why their bodies make them move in a certain way.

    Teacher: Why can they run and a penguin can’t run?

    Student: Because they have long legs

    Teacher: Yeah, they have long legs so they’re really good runners. So what we’re going to do now is we’re going to get into some groups, I’m going to give you a little animal card and in your group you’re going to have to try to think for a moment how would that animal move.

    So in drama we were working on body awareness, allowing the students to know their personal space and then taking that into consideration when they’re trying to decide the characteristics of animals, how those animals would move around, what body parts certain animals would use and just try to get them to reflect that in their movement as well, if it was slow or fast.

    Teacher: You’ve had your own time to find your personal space in the room and practice those movements to see how that animal might move. Now we want to take the chance to share with your classmates how well you did working in groups. Action.

    Teacher: Oh, even some sound effects. See how they’re flying in? There’s the leader. What were some of the actions movements that they were doing that were giving us clues? Jonathan?

    Student: They were standing on one leg

    I think it’s very important for the younger learners to have that feedback immediately because if you were to do it after the fact and then say for the next time try this, I think the next time might be a couple days away, maybe next week, and that’s going to be forgot.

    Teacher: Let’s think of some other things that kangaroos might do or the way they might behave.

    Student: They have fur

    Teacher: They have fur so maybe they could be cleaning themselves a little bit to show. Good stuff, yeah. They don’t hop in a bathtub like we do, right.

    So I think it’s very important to have that feedback and trying it out more or less immediately.

    Student: I liked it when _____________

    We’ve been talking about all different types of living things. We’ve talked about that in science, we’ve done it in drama, we’ve been doing it in our language arts, we’ve written about them. Now we’re going to do visual arts with them as well. So step one was we have reviewed the different characteristics and kind of thought what might be an interesting animal to draw based on certain animals having more interesting type lines with them, like elephants with their trunk or their big ears or zebras with their stripes and things like that. So the students then had to go back and draw the image but not focusing too much on specific detail and fine detail, we were just trying to hit the overall shape and image of the animal down on the paper and then we stopped there. We brought them back to the carpet.

    Student: The most difficult and challenging part was making the animal because you had to make the arms and the body shape and it was hard. I ______________________

    The other day in math we were talking about lines and we talked about lines that go this way and lines that go this way. What do we call a line that goes across?

    Student: Horizon line

    Teacher: Horizon line in art, yes.

    We talked about the horizon line, putting that into the page showing them that everything … the horizon is not always on the bottom and the animals just standing on the ground and then having to fill up all the upper space of the paper just with things that were in the sky. So then once they did we came back and we talked about different patterns that could be incorporated into the animals. Hearts by itself. Is that a pattern?

    Student: No

    Teacher: What else would I have to do?

    Student: Heart and triangles.

    Teacher: Heart and triangles, and you’ll be doing it in pencil. Remember if you don’t like it that way you can erase it. I’m going to do it in markers so you guys can see.

    Student: Patterns they have to repeat or else you’re not a pattern. Like here’s a pattern one. One two, one two, one two.

    Some students chose to go realistic and make wavy lines for the elephants and some wanted to just do patterns that weren’t realistic but made their art special, so maybe it was just circle squares throughout so it made each one unique. Then they came back to their carpet again and we just spoke about different patterns that could be incorporated around the frame of the picture.

    Teacher: Addie, to be a pattern what does it have to do again?

    Student: Repeat

    Teacher: It has to repeat. So you might be working on your page like this, working across, doing your pattern, but what’s going to happen when you get down to here? Austin, do we choose a different pattern for over here? No, we’ve got to spin our page and keep the pattern going across there.

    With a project like this and with the younger students you do have to do it very step by step by step because if you just stood up at the front and said OK let’s do this and be done with it, by the end you would have 22 different things because certain students would remember certain aspects and really emphasize that and forget other ones. So I think that was really important, was to really model it for them, to show step by step what the expectations were so they could go back and also have success.

    Teacher: Now that most of us have finished retracing all our outside lines now your job to do is go into your picture in the middle and trace over any of the lines that you have there. So your animal now has to be traced around and all the patterns that you’ve put inside that animal also has to be traced.

    Teacher: What are you doing on yours?

    Student: I was thinking I could pull it this way or that way.

    Teacher: Let’s see, if we look at it this way how would you like, would you like black coming down or black going up.

    Student: Black coming down

    Teacher: Black coming down so you’re going to color on that one first.

    When you’re sitting down just talking to them about their animal that they’ve done you can ask them those specific questions where when there’s 20 of them looking up at you and you show them a picture and you say what animal group did this fall into, you only get to talk with one at a time, but this way you can actually sit down with them and you can say tell me about your picture, and hopefully they’re going to tell you oh, it’s a reptile, it’s cold blooded, it’s living here in the desert or things like that. So it allows me to actually get that one-on-one time to see if they did understand the different characteristics that we were looking for in our science unit but now they’re also talking about it during their art unit.

    Teacher: So friends, that’s the next step. We’re almost all to our finished product now. But we have to decide what color background paper we’re going to use based on the habitat of your animal that you chose. So in the video clip here on the smart board they said a snake lives in the desert and it might be a brown color. What color might you use for the background if you did a nice starfish ….Blue yes. Why would you choose blue for a starfish?

    Student: It’s a reef color …

    Teacher: Yes, it’s the color that you might find on the reef, a coral reef.

    Using the Art Smart website I found it very beneficial. It was very step by step so it was very easy to follow and I like the fact that it did as well take into the fact cross-curricular activities so it wasn’t just an art lesson by itself that it was focusing on. It was also including science using the animals as the main theme on the page and as well, incorporating the math and patterns ideas as well with it.

    Student: It was very fun

    Student: The tracing, the art and the drawing.

    Teacher: OK, friends you have completed your art job for today. All great fantastic work was done. Just a few friends that still have a few more things to finish up but those friends will have time to get back to that. What we’d like to do now is we’d like to go on our gallery walk. We’ve put your artwork up on the board, out in the hallway

    In every subject area in the curriculum some students are more advanced than other ones so I don’t so much look at the finished product as long as they were trying their best, going through step by step, listening to the instructions and working their way there.

    Teacher: Is there anything that anybody wants to say something that they really like about a piece of the artwork that we saw, or something about how someone followed the directions really well and came up with a really neat with it? Jonathan, which one? Remember we can point with our hands but we don’t actually touch the artwork, OK. This one here. What do you like about that one?

    Student: [inaudible]

    Teacher: So Jonathan liked this one here, how he said the feathers are coming out the back of the peacock. What part do you like about this one?

    Student: [inaudible]

    Teacher: Oh you like the small pattern on the inside of the border, excellent. And what do you like about this one?

    Student: [inaudible]
    Teacher: You like the pattern around the outside.

    At young ages they can’t look at their own work and critically analyze and say maybe I could have done this a little bit better or tried to do this differently, where younger students they’ll look at anybody’s work and just be honest and say maybe I would have done this better. They’re also very good at pointing out the positives where a lot of us, we don’t hear the good things so much about our work. It’s like OK finished and it’s done, let’s move on to the next thing. So I think that’s very important that they get to recognize something that they might not have seen as a positive in their piece of work but someone else has noticed and points that out to them, and they say wow, I never thought I did a really good job on that but somebody else has recognized it and given me cred it for it. So I think that’s really good for them for their self-esteem.

    Student: I like how ______

    Teacher: Well look how fantastic they all turned out. Good stuff. OK, let’s quietly walk back to our class, you can take one more look as you go by.

    I thought the day was very fun. I thought the students really enjoyed themselves. They didn’t see it as oh, we’re still talking about animals again, we’re still doing this again; it was covered in four different subject areas, with the writing as well, with the language arts and math, and I don’t think they recognized it as that, like we talked about the same thing all day long but we did and we’ve covered so many different things on it. So I wasn’t sure how it was going to go but I think they really enjoyed it, the different activities and things like that.

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Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Subjects / Collaboration

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Subjects / Planning

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Subjects / Engagement

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12 / ELA / Tch DIY