Common Sense Review
Updated June 2014


Impressive cross-curricular resource helps put the A in STEAM
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • Educators section is of primary interest to teachers, but other sections also include valuable resources.
  • The site’s 187 lessons can be easily searched by keyword or sorted by grade level, arts subject, or content area.
  • Thoughtful site design uses a product carousel at the top to link worksheets and related resources, and tabs below for lesson details.
  • High-quality interactive features, like the Shadow Puppets tutorial, allow students to engage with both the art and content.
  • Worksheets, like this Mountain Poem activity, are pre-made and coordinate with each lesson.
Amazing resources and detailed lessons help teachers and students connect the arts and other subjects in meaningful ways.
A few lesson links are dead, and help isn't as readily available as one might hope.
Bottom Line
A useful and engaging resource for integrating the arts into a variety of other subject areas.
Christie Thomas
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

Superb images, videos, audio, and interactives reel kids in. High-interest topics (explosions) and engaging activities (puppet making) are found across age groups. The well-crafted lessons are easy to implement.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Impressive lessons meaningfully integrate the arts and subject-area content. Most end-of-lesson assessments incorporate critical thinking skills.

More on-site interactivity for kids would create even more opportunities for learning.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

The site is organized and easy to search, but visitors may miss help options or FAQ’s. Sections geared to families and students are excellent, but younger kids will need adult direction to locate resources.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers can try a lesson as-is, or simply pull something from a lesson to make it their own. Math teachers can expand their repertoire by practicing fractions with musical notes. Geography students can demonstrate learning about world cultures through dance. Science classes can explore sound by studying pitch across an orchestra. Teachers in STEAM programs will find immense resources that connect a variety of content to the arts –- both through processes and products.

Art teachers will find tips for arts-integration advocacy under the How-To’s section. Try these out at a faculty meeting and then dive in with a few eager colleagues. Start small -- just 20 minutes in Biology focusing on scientific illustration. Or offer to lead a 6th grade Ancient Civilizations venture into Chinese shadow puppets; kids can use the interactive tutorial while you help out with creation. Try changing venues: Join second graders in their classroom for a week of adjective study and monster making. The possibilities are vast.

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What's It Like?

ArtsEdge, an educational resource from The Kennedy Center, is rich with tools for teaching the arts across a variety of other subject areas. No account is needed; all content is free and available for any teacher to use. From the homepage, teachers will see sections for Lessons, How To's and an arts standards selection tool. Other sections (Students, Collections, Media) house many interesting resources, not all of which are utilized within the lessons themselves.

The Lessons portion of the Educators section boasts nearly 200 high-quality options. The database is easily searchable by keyword, grade range, arts genre, or content area. The site's lesson-resource interface is easy to use, with a rotating carousel that displays images and links to content. The tabs below provide details for preparation and instruction, as well as relevant state, and art, standards. Two other sections -- the How-To’s and Standards -- are primarily geared toward art teachers.

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Is It Good For Learning?

ArtsEdge epitomizes the "STEM-to-STEAM" ethos, with excellent integration of arts-related concepts across a variety of subject areas. For example, science students cultivate yeast cells while studying scientific illustration. Young kids can learn about mathematical AB patterns through musical instruments. World History students can analyze artifacts as they explore Greek civilizations. The lessons offered provide guidance for connecting these traditionally disparate topics in ways that will likely pique kids’ interest. This more holistic look at the world might just help kids gain a stronger understanding of topics than they would from learning about topics in isolation.

Teachers who think of themselves as squeamish when it comes to things like, say, incorporating dance into their classrooms, may find pause to reconsider. The lessons here are well designed, easy to implement, and easily tweaked to match a variety of specific needs. Resources like video footage from the Great Depression, or an interactive feature on perfect pitch offer opportunities for rich learning experiences that are rarely found elsewhere.

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