Collaborating with Art Class-Molding Student Research

Collaborating with an Art Class provides a wealth of opportunities for the library to be utilized, especially for research. A few years ago, the art teacher on my campus and I developed a research project in conjunction with third grade students’ art projects. They were working on creating some amazing pinch pots from clay. She didn’t want to simply mold an every day pinch pot, but rather something unique that would spark student interest in the library, as well. We came up with a research project that incorporated nonfiction texts, encyclopedias, and online reference materials.

In art class, the teacher read the book What If You Had Animal Teeth by Sandra Markle; it’s a wonderful illustrated storybook that incorporates some nonfiction information about the special reasons some animals have uniquely shaped teeth.  Animal Teeth

After reading the story, the students brainstormed animals with unique teeth or animals that had prominent teeth, like tigers, bats, and alligators. Each student chose an animal, and then, molded their clay pinch pot into their shape. The opening of the pinch pot would be the animal’s mouth with the teeth showing.

Animal Teeth   Art Elephant   Art-Alligator

As a beginning lesson in research in the library, students learned about the Dewey Decimal System and how to locate books using our OPAC (online public assess catalog). Students searched the OPAC and the library for a book about their animal and recorded one fact from the book. They also utilized our reference section and located information about their animal in an encyclopedia (old school, I know). This lesson led to collaboration in the computer lab with our amazing lab teacher. She had students utilize online resources and record one fact from a reference site. Each lesson stressed the importance of using your own words, not plagiarizing, and always citing your sources!

Students now had collected three facts about their animals, concentrating on facts about their teeth and how they use them. They recorded their information on a graphic organizer, cited their sources, and displayed their artwork along with their research. Many students also drew a self-portrait as if they were the inspiration for the cover of the book!

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We truly loved this collaboration effort, and it even stretched into their classrooms. Teachers extended the art/research collaboration lessons by teaching units on animal defense and habitats.


*Book cover photo courtesy of*


Author: Ashley Cooksey

Library Media Specialist in Arkansas. Self-proclaimed geek. Lover of nature and music. Always learning.

Categories: Blog Topics, STEM/STEAM

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