The elementary school years are formative. A holistic approach to learning is part of a well-rounded education. Subjects like math, language, art, history and science should overlap and be integrated with each other because they overlap in the real world. So they should not just be taught separately.
Create fractal art in math class, write poems, stories and plays in English or French class. Teach a class about the first radio, and then make your own simple radio in class. Bring in some science by explaining AM and FM waves and how they travel through the air. As a class, produce a segment for a local radio station. Let the kids do weather, sports, interviews, and more.
Education students should be taught and shown how to do creative activities with this idea in mind so that they can someday incorporate them into a creative classroom of their own.
These tools can include games, stories (both acting them out with masks, etc. and having kids read them expressively to each other), making book covers for their own stories or for a favorite book, etc.
To make history come alive, write letters from the colonial era using old colonial words (think ye, yea, verily, thees and thous and verbs ending in eth). Write them on paper that has been antiqued by being crumpled up and mixed with coffee grounds.
At Christmas, Valentine’s, Halloween, and other holidays, make crafts out of recyclable materials like toilet paper tubes, jars, cans, and more. Make fun creatures/characters/scenes with modeling clay, felt, paper, and more to illustrate a child’s original story. Then let him/her act it out for the class. To make sure everyone gets a chance to share, consider making this an activity for groups. Provide lots of crayons, markers, pencils, glue, google eyes, felt, cotton balls, pipe cleaners and other raw materials to feed a child’s imagination.
After reading about a silly dream collecting giant in “The BFG” by Roald Dahl (a blast to read from the same guy who gave us “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”), split the students into small groups of two to four each. Tell them to write and illustrate their own silly dreams. As one might expect from dry British humor, the funny thing about the dreams is that they mangle language. When kids see how the giant plays with language by taking ridiculous liberties with it- i.e. deliberate bad grammar and or bad spelling and mixed metaphors, they become more aware of how English actually functions.
For example: I is seating at the Mooey King (ok, if you are not Canadian or American you will not know about our restaurant, Dairy Queen) eatering a Princely treet. I is shoveling into a befuffely i scream Saturday! I is tasted sweet apple pine and yummy hayberries, and chalklit be drippeling up my chinny. The freezy, flufferly, smacked cream be smoozing thru my throaty. But suddenly…My i scream feast be rupterinted by me daddese cawl, Et Gup! Blumberdoodle and get yous willpo out yous yap!
Another useful tool is a totebag centered around a specific theme (for example, Jungle) filled with at least 6-10 books about your subject and six extension activities radiating out from that theme which teach different math, reading, listening, craft, or cooperative skills while the children have fun learning about jungle animals, plants, nutrition, people and the Amazon.
Everything in the totebag should be durable and reusable. Although this will be a lot of work and perhaps expensive to make, you will have a great resource that will serve you well. Sewing skills really come in handy here. If you do not sew, find someone willing to help here. Use an extremely durable cloth or denim. Be warned, though, that a good, tough sewing machine is necessary to work with denim because a regular sewing needle will not even pierce through it!
With a little creativity, the sky is the limit. Creative helping helps students remember the lessons their teachers spend so much time crafting. Show students how knowledge in one subject area is transferable to another- for example, good math skills come in handy when visualising how long it would have taken Columbus to sail on the Nina and Pinta. Celebrate holidays that are part of the year’s rhythm with special learning enhancing projects. And above all, don’t forget to have fun!