When art and music teachers learned their schools would be closed due to the Coronavirus, many teachers thought, “Can the arts go digital?” While not all households have access to an abundance of art supplies or musical instruments, most homes do have access to a smartphone. Research shows that around 80 percent of American households have a smartphone, which means teachers can find creative ways for students to learn remotely, especially for those who have limited supplies at home.
Things to Consider When Planning for the Arts at Home
There are a lot of things to consider when planning for the arts during remote learning. Do students have access to art supplies, musical instruments, or the internet? Will they be working alone or with a parent or sibling? Is it possible to recreate what you wanted students to learn in the classroom at home?
Instead of focusing on the skills you planned on teaching while in the classroom, change your focus to encourage creative engagement through whatever supplies students have at home. For example, students can repurpose toilet paper rolls and egg cartons and turn empty containers into works of art. For music class, students can also use household items like pots and pans to make music and, of course, their voices. With limited materials at home, teachers can still find ways to teach students through virtual meetings, singalongs, YouTube videos, and basic household items.
Ways to Bring the Arts into At-Home Learning
While schools may be closed, many teachers have found creative ways to continue teaching their students from the comfort of their homes. Here are a few ideas.
Utilize Digital Resources
If you asked yourself at the beginning of this pandemic if the arts can go digital, the answer is yes, it can! There are a lot of digital resources for the arts. For example, you can lead students through easy art activities such as drawing by creating a YouTube channel or over a video-conferencing app like Google classroom or Zoom. Teachers can hold one-on-one sessions with students via a Facetime app or assign students to watch online videos on how to perfect their art techniques or to learn about a famous artist. Students can also tour virtual museums like Met Kids.
Music and drama teachers can also go digital by leading their students through a virtual singalong. My daughter’s chorus teacher has weekly Google Meets, where the entire chorus class virtually sings together. Band teachers can also go digital by assigning students to watch YouTube videos to learn new notes or songs for their instruments. They can also have a virtual band class where students practice their instruments together online.
Utilize Unconventional Materials
If you’re under the assumption that some of your students do not have access to the internet all the time, you can rely on unconventional household materials to be the foundation of your lessons. Students can create their own art activities and turn food packaging into suncatchers and use empty egg cartons as paint dishes to create a work of art. Students can also learn to create art, such as a color wheel, from food or other household items.
Music and band teachers can encourage students to utilize their household items to make music too. Students can create songs using pots, pans, and a spoon, just like when they were toddlers. Or, you can challenge students to get creative and see how many different household items they can use to create a song. You’d be surprised by the music you can make with a carrot on a plate.
Create an Activity Themed Around the Pandemic
Students need a creative outlet, and what’s a better way to be creative than to incorporate what students are going through right now into their art classes and music classes?
Many performances from drama class that were scheduled have unfortunately been canceled. Challenge students to create new lyrics to the songs they were set to perform, but these lyrics have to do with what they’re experiencing right now during the pandemic. For example, they can change some of the words to include “six feet apart,” “social distancing,” and “life in quarantine.”
Create an Online Performance
While performance-based rehearsals may seem challenging to re-create online, it can be done. Students can gather on Google Meet or Zoom and rehearse just as they would in class. The only downfall is that it may be hard to hear when students speak over one another, so rules would have to be into place beforehand. However, an online performance is better than no performance at all.
The arts have been known to help people destress and heal from anxious times. By encouraging students to continue to be creative, you are creating a safe space for students who can no longer hang out with their friends in person. Art therapy is a great way for students to have a creative outlet in such trying times.