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Object Lessons

Teaching Math Through the Visual Arts, K-5

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When Caren Holtzman and Lynn Susholtz look around a classroom, they see "a veritable goldmine of mathematical investigations" involving number, measurement, size, shape, symmetry, ratio, and proportion. They also think of the ways great artists have employed these concepts in their depictions of objects and space -- for example, Picasso's use of geometric shapes in his Cubist still lifes or contemporary artist Tara Donovan's room-sized sculptures of everyday items.

In their new book, Object Lessons, Caren (a math educator) and Lynn (an artist and art educator) use a highly visual approach to show students and teachers the art in math and the math in art. Integrating visual arts into math experiences makes the lessons accessible, engaging, and meaningful for a wide range of students.

In each chapter, the authors use everyday objects to create rigorous, hands-on activities that address key mathematics standards and concepts. Each lesson provides:

  • an introduction to the featured object that explains how it connects to key mathematical concepts;
  • a discussion of the artists, art styles and techniques featured;
  • activities organized by grade level and math content area;
  • the basic materials required to prepare and teach each lesson;
  • a clear picture of what the lesson will look like in a classroom; and
  • a list of resources.

The book and its accompanying CD feature a wonderful gallery of images—including art photos and student work—and a collection of links to art education organizations, museums, and websites that focus on the work of forty major artists.

About the Author(s)

Caren Holtzman began her teaching career with Oceanside Unified School District. She was a classroom teacher (grades 2-6) for ten years. She subsequently began her work as a faculty member at the University of California San Diego's Education Studies Program (EDS).

Lynn Susholtz has been involved in art and
education for the last twenty-five years. She has developed curricula for and
taught in private and public schools, community centers, and social service

Table of Contents

Preview the book online!


Chapter 1: The Face
Chapter 2: Food
Chapter 3: Grids and Graph Paper
Chapter 4: The Rock
Chapter 5: Paper
Chapter 6: The Shoe
Chapter 7: The Flag
Chapter8: The Journal
Chapter 9: The Classroom
Visual Art General References
Artist Chart

Product Details

Media: 228 pp/paper + CD-ROM
Year: 2010
Item No: WEB-0796
ISBN: 978-157110-796-1
Grade Range: K-5