Arts-Based Methods

Teachers ask children what they observe in the painting and how they would bring the characteristics of the animals to life. Students work in groups on dialogue, props, costumes, scenery, music, or other aspects of the production that interest them. In each phase of preparation, teachers look for opportunities to integrate arts-based inquiry with other art forms and subjects:

  • In writing dialogue, students role-play conversations with each other, assuming the roles of various animals and brainstorming what they might say. “The students are having the kinds of conversations that young kids need to have in order to grow and develop as good successful people and not just to be successful academically,” says first-grade teacher Geralyn Broussard.
  • Some students listen to the Stravinsky music while thinking of an animal in the Brueghel painting. They imagine how the animal would interpret the music, draw pictures of the animals dancing, and use vocabulary words to describe the dances.
  • Other students research how the animals act and move, then design puppets with those features. Second-grade teacher Megan Neelis challenges them to think about how the animals move — “How would you flap as a bird? What would you do as a jaguar? How would a rhino move?” — and come up with action words for their answers.