How Art can be used to Teach Math

Using art to teach other subjects can help the students see mathematics in a different way. Art and math are two subjects that work well together as art can present math formulas in a visual and concrete way.

Addition and subtraction

Using art to teach addition and subtraction is as basic as cutting out figures, and then showing how groups of the figures work together to demonstrate an equation. This activity can be taken a step further by allowing the students to demonstrate the equation by either drawing a picture or cutting out figures to demonstrate their knowledge for the class or a small group.

Geometry

Geometry is a mathematics that also uses artistic terms in the teaching of the subject. The shapes and angles used in geometry make it easy to employ art in the lessons.

One idea teaches the students about size and shape. To complete this activity the teacher cuts different sizes of the same shape, so the smaller shape fits within the dimensions of the next larger shape. So the teacher may have four circles that fit inside each other. The shapes can be any geometric shape and works best if the shapes are cut out of cardboard or plastic coffee can lids. Give the students a set of shapes of varying sizes. Each student will trace the largest shape on a piece of paper. They then choose the next smaller one and trace it inside the previous one. After they are done, each student will have a picture with different sizes in it. The teacher can then discuss how the shapes, in each drawing, are similar and different. After the discussion, the students can color in each shape however they like, and then the drawings can be displayed.

Another fun geometry idea is to cut many shapes out of different colors of construction paper. The shapes can be in many different sizes. Have each child take several shapes to their seats and they will then use the shapes to create a piece of artwork. After they assemble their pictures, discuss what shapes were used and why. The students then can add details to their art and the pictures can be displayed.

Graphing

Ask each child to bring in their favorite fruit from home. If they do not have any at their home, they can bring in a picture of their favorite. The next day tally the number of each fruit represented. Then show how the numbers of each fruit can be represented in a bar graph. For younger children, each bar should be drawn in a different color on the graph.

A pie graph can also be used for this activity with the entire circle representing all the fruit brought in, while each section will show the number of each fruit as a part of the total.

Symmetry

After a class has talked about reflective symmetry, discuss how this can be used to draw a human face. Give each child a magazine or catalog and ask them to find a close-up picture of a face. The instructor will then need to help each student to draw a line down the center of each picture using a ruler. The student will then place a mirror along the line and draw what is reflected. After the students finish, attach their drawing to the photograph. After discussing how this represented reflective symmetry, display the artwork.

The different ways that art and math work together are only limited by an instructors imagination and willingness to cross curriculums to help make more rounded students.