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Opportunities for Science in Art Experiences

"A great deal of creativity is required to make scientific breakthroughs, and art is just as often an expression of (or a product of) scientific knowledge." ( Have you ever thought of the relationship between art and science in this way? Think about the art experiences you have offered to the children in your care just in the past week. What did children do? What did children notice? If you think back to the experiences, you likely will discover that they each included elements of science.

From a broad perspective, consider each art experience as an investigation. As children are gluing objects to paper, they must determine how much is just enough glue to cause it stick. When painting, they might observe new colors being formed as they paint mixes together. Each of these experiences requires children to determine a plan to solve their problem and then test it out. If it doesn't work, they will need to adjust their plan and try it again.

As teachers, we can help to surface the science in art experiences by being very intentional about the materials we provide as well as thoughtful about the language we use during the experiences.


During a painting activity, provide children with just the primary colors. As children paint and seek out additional colors, challenge them to investigate how they can create a specific colors out of the red, blue and yellow paints they do have, surfacing stability and change.

Provide children with a variety of tools to explore with during a clay experience. Invite children to notice structure and function as they make connections between how various tools are designed and what effect they have on the clay. The pointed tool is great for drawing details into the clay while the wide cylinder is best suited for rolling over the clay to flatten it.

After collecting nature materials outside (e.g., leaves, bark, flowers) provide paper and wide crayons to children to make rubbings. Explore force as children explore how much pressure they need to use to have the details come through the paper. This is also a rich opportunity to invite children to observe and describe these details.

Science never happens in isolation. This is why it is a great platform for planning lessons that connect multiple learning domains. The result is deeper and more meaningful learning for the children in your classroom.

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