Art and Literacy Connections

The Art of Words

The Art of Words is an art-based literacy program geared towards children aged 2 to 13 years old. The program consists of introducing reading and writing skills to children by integrating art with direct instruction. The basic foundations of reading and reading comprehension will be provided during each session, in addition to the development of fine motor and critical thinking skills through the process of art making.


Children meet weekly with a teaching artist for 45 minutes each session.  The teaching artist has a background in painting, drawing, photography or ceramics and has been trained to introduce, teach and assess literacy skills and its development.

At the beginning of each session, the teaching artist will read a children’s book to the student. The book selected pertains to the concept being taught for that session. For example, if the teacher is to teach the vowel sound A, then he or she will read the book Are you an Ant? By Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries or There’s and Alligator under my Bed, by Mercer Mayer. After reading the story, the teaching artist will ask a series of simple comprehension questions based on the age of the child. If the child understands the content of the story, then the teaching artist will begin a 5-minute session of direct instruction; whereby, they will teach the phoneme associated with the letter being introduced on that day.  In this case, they are learning the vowel sound A, and the teaching artist will say the sound the phoneme makes, show them the letter card, then ask the student to repeat the vowel sound several times. This section of the instruction should last no more than 10 minutes.

Immediately following the reading of the book and the direct instruction, the teaching artist will then begin the art instruction. The art session is based primarily on the teaching artists’ artistic background. If the teaching artist has a background in painting, then the child and the artist will explore various painting mediums to not only reinforce the concept taught on that day, but to teach an art skill.

The art project for the letter A may be to create an ant or alligator out of clay, paint ant trails, or learn how to draw the shapes of an ant or alligator. The art activity is approximately 20 to 30 minutes and may not be completed on that day; however, the child will have all the materials to complete the activity with parental guidance or on their own.

The teaching artist will leave a copy of the lesson plan for the day and their materials at the end of each session, so that parents can reinforce the content taught on that day during the week.  When the teaching artist returns the following week, they will assess the child to determine if they have retained the content from the previous week, before they move on to the next.


Bi-monthly informal assessments will be given to determine if the scheduled curriculum needs to be changed in any direction. A written assessment will be given to the parents at this time. This assessment will include written feedback from both the teaching artist and the coordinator to discuss the child’s progression in the program.  School aged children (6-13) will receive more formalized assessments to assess more specific areas of reading comprehension, fluency, writing and phonological awareness. The outcomes from these assessments will determine the content and pacing schedule for the remaining sessions. 


All teachers have 3 or more years of training in the arts and have completed a training program with the coordinator. They have been fingerprinted through New York State and have no criminal records. All teaching artists have a substantive portfolio of their work have provided references of their work ethic and personal and professional attributes.