Using Visual Arts to Teach Math Concepts

Over the course of educating young children, it has already been established that interdisciplinarity plays a significant role in terms of developing kids’ critical perception of reality and creativity. However, despite the widespread use of a cross-disciplinary curriculum, many educators still draw a distinct line between STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and other subjects. In order to prove such an approach wrong, researchers have introduced the so-called STEAM model, which integrates arts as means of presenting science to children. Indeed, there are various benefits to introducing art as a way to explain mathematical concepts.

Visual arts make theoretical concepts more comprehensible for young children. When learning a certain math term revolving around numbers and symbols, children often have a hard time imagining the concept. A prime example of such a challenge would be the introduction of frequency tables among kids. While the concept itself is not complicated, it is of paramount importance that children imagine the scopes of frequency distribution in order to draw tangible conclusions and classify between the most and the least frequent incidents. In such a situation, a teacher may encourage children to pick a few items that are easy to imagine and draw and then collect data within the group with such questions as “What is your favorite item among the four items represented (e.g., fruit, pets, flowers, colors). Once the data were collected, children would draw the items as many times as was indicated in the survey.

As a result, children would have the ability to visualize the frequency distribution more clearly than it would have been depicted with plain numbers. Apart from visualizing, children may use verbalizing techniques like tally charts, journaling, graphs, T-charts, and maps in order to create a connection between theoretical knowledge and empirical perception of the science phenomenon. It is beneficial for students, as such connections contribute to the kids’ overall literacy and cognitive flexibility.

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