Cells, cells, and more cells! This lesson couldn’t have been any more fun! The only science related lesson I had taught before was abstract galaxies to my fifth grade students. Even though they turned out great and I experimented with different materials each lesson, I became bored with it. I needed something that would catch everyone’s eye and make them think, “Wow! This came from the art room?”.
Again, collaboration is key when it comes to arts integration! I knew the moment we all returned from winter break I would march to the opposite end of the school (the longest walk ever) and talk to the fifth grade teachers. I wanted to know what they wanted to see happen in the art room. I tried computer animation programs with math and science, hybrid animals mixing the predator and its prey, now it was time to create cells. The particular teacher I spoke with mentioned that students in fifth grade still had a hard time identifying differences between plant and animal cells, its organelles, and its functions. She provided me with detailed charts she had used in the past. Even I was overwhelmed when I looked at it. So now my job was to figure out how I could make plant and animals cells sound, well….fun.
The Art Itself!
Once I presented the lesson, the students did not seem interested, actually quite puzzled as to why I brought this up. We compared, contrasted, discussed the importance of cells, and discussed how we can make this into art. I allowed the students to pick their own type of cell for the art project. They began creating small sketches, choosing to do one large cell or multiple cells. Once they began drawing, I saw that they were more engaged with the lesson. To allow more creativity, each table of four students had to create a brand new organelle as a team, regardless if they chose plant or animal. These students had to explain the function of the cell and the positive and negative effects it has on its host. Once they were allowed to add their very own organelles and explain to me verbally or in a written form how this works with other organelles in their cells, I saw that they were finally understanding how cells work!