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Instructional Resources

Series Info

Episodes: 8

Length: 30 min.

Grade Levels:
Kindegarten, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, Professional Development

The Arts

Teacher's Guide


Art to Heart

Art to Heart offers parents and teachers of young children insight into how involvement in visual arts, dance, drama, and music from the earliest years contributes to children’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development—as well as ideas and inspiration for activities to do together. The series’ visits schools, child care centers, museums, and community centers across the country to explore a wide array of innovative hands-on arts programs. Researchers, artists, teachers, and parents offer examples of enjoyable and beneficial arts activities for both home and educational settings.

Episode Guide

1. Children’s First Language — Introduces the arts as a way young children communicate their thoughts, ideas, and feelings. This series overview visits programs at the Wolf Trap Foundation’s Center for Education, East Tennessee State Child CareCenter, the Daviess County (KY) schools, and the Art Sparks gallery at Louisville’s Speed Art Museum as well as a home to see a mother and daughter make art together. Leading researcher Howard Gardner explains his theory of multiple intelligences.

2. Visual Arts — Explores how visual arts activities can foster literacy, self-esteem, problem-solving skills, and parent-child bonding. Programs featured include a rural Kentucky Head Start center where fathers and preschoolers create steppingstones; the art-focused Reggio Emilia approach in two St. Louis schools; a Louisville art class; a preschool class at Philadelphia’s Settlement Music School; and activities at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution’s Early Enrichment Center that explore art and books. Martin Rollins, Associate Curator of Education at Louisville’s Speed Art Museum, explains the stages of drawing development.

3. Music — Music activities—from singing to writing songs to learning to play an instrument—help build physical and language skills, self-confidence, and promote cooperative behaviors. A music teacher at Philadelphia’s Settlement Music School explains the importance of young children discovering their singing voices; a couple in Lexington (KY), sing with their infant; an artist-in-residence introduces Massachusetts kindergartners to songwriting; music therapists use music to build preschool skills; and a classical musician teaches inner-city youngsters in Louisville to play the violin.

4. Movement & Dance — What’s the difference between movement and dance? Why are both important and enjoyable experiences for young children? This program shows a wide variety of dance and movement activities—from African and Appalachian dance to ballet and modern dance—in programs in St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Berea and Louisville (KY). Movement education specialist Rae Pica explains why it’s important to pay attention to movement basics.

5. Drama & the Literary Arts — Children are natural dramatists, and activities that fuel their imagination and ability to make believe foster creative and academic skills. Inspired by a painting, third graders in Louisville, Kentucky, take on roles of explorers and Native Americans; mother and neuroscientist Lise Eliot explains the connection between reading and brain development; teaching artists use books and puppets to help children bring stories to life in the classroom; and children at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center use artifacts, storytelling, and dramatic play to connect ideas in science and history.

6. The Artful Environment — An environment that fosters creativity is more than bricks and mortar. Materials, attitude, and teacher/parent involvement are also important to providing a comforting yet challenging atmosphere. At the Key Learning Community in Indianapolis, Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences is put into practice; Reggio Emilia educators explain the importance of providing a variety of art materials; parents and children explore the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and thePlease Touch Museum in Philadelphia; and a Louisville artist and his daughter draw each other.

7. Arts for Learning — Can the arts help teach any subject? Why are arts activities in early life beneficial to future learning? What makes a good art teacher? This program explores a variety of aspects relating to the arts-learning connection. Third-graders in Louisville learn about recycling and pollution through “Eco-Drama”; neuroscientist Lise Eliot explains how music, movement, and visual stimulation help prime the brain for language development and future learning; a university professor goes into the classroom to demonstrate best practices for teaching art; and Slavko Milekic discusses his interactive museum software for children.

8. Arts Everyday — Both parents and educators stress the importance of making the arts part of young children’s everyday experience. At Gateway Association Child Development Center in Anderson (IN), the arts facilitate learning for children with a variety of abilities and needs. A Louisville father and artist emphasizes the importance of parents spending time with their young children. Two programs designed to encourage parents to read to young children—Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and Reach Out and Read, founded by Boston pediatrician Barry Zuckerman—are showcased. At a library branch in Lexington, Kentucky, an arts project called Bilingual Boogie Bees brings neighbors and cultures together.

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