Integrating Art History into K-5 Social Studies Classrooms

Kate Schlegel

Name: Kate Schlegel
Majors: Art History, Education
Advisor: Tracy Cosgriff & Allison Neptune

This independent study investigates the possibility for interaction between art and history in elementary school curriculum. I chose this focus to combine my disparate backgrounds in art history and elementary education because, though these disciplines are very different, to me they speak to each other very clearly. An analysis of current education initiatives at the federal level establishes the need to create a more effective history—or, its counterpart at the elementary level, social studies–curriculum. Since other subjects, such as English, math, and science, are mandatorily assessed through federal initiatives, while history is not, this subject is often under-emphasized by teachers in order to meet learning targets in these other subjects. A study of educational theorists, such as Jean Piaget and William Blake, establishes the potential for the study of history with younger students, who are at lower stages of cognitive development, through the integration of art. Using this art integration in the social studies classroom, a model curriculum is provided through the development of a unit and its defense, along with a discussion of existing curricula with relevant elements. Finally, the opportunity for extension through field trips to art museums is explored through a discussion of the resources these institutions offer, such as our case study, the Frist. Though the integration of art history and social studies is not yet commonplace, this independent study seeks to exemplify the potential for increasing student outcomes in history that this practice offers.

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Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2022 on April 26, 2022.

5 responses to “Integrating Art History into K-5 Social Studies Classrooms”

  1. Lucie says:

    Congratulations! So proud of you and all your hard work <3

  2. Dante King says:

    Hi Kate! This is really interesting, and I totally agree that “visual literacy, empathy, and a historical and cultural understanding of the past” should all be fundamental in early childhood education. I’m also inclined to think that your insights could be applied to higher educational contexts as well… Phenomenal job! 😀

  3. Anne Bowers says:

    This is amazing and I am so proud of everything you have accomplished! I can’t wait to see what you do in a classroom and can’t wait to see how you will continue to intergrate art history into the classroom!

  4. Tracy Cosgriff says:

    Congratulations, Kate, on this outstanding accomplishment! I’m delighted to have watched this project grow and deepen over the last year. Your interdisciplinary work is inspirational – your future students will be very lucky to have you! Brava!

  5. Rosemary n Horner says:

    Congrats Kate! Hope to see you in Chicago!

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Graduate as a licensed teacher in pre-K-12 in fields ranging from science to music education

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