Art in education may be used to increase reading comprehension skills

Art in education may be used to improve reading skills as the benefit of art education exists beyond the art room. Reading comprehension activities using art especially help left handed children. The reason is that being left handed indicates that a child is probably right brained. And this indicates that she may learn differently than her left brained classmates.

In simplistic terms, the left brain is interested in logic whereas the right brain is interested in beauty. (I said simplistic!) The right brain seeks and appreciates the aesthetics - music, drama, dance, and art.

The way to the brains of many children is through the use of music, dance, drama, and art.

This places the responsibility of art in education on the classroom teacher and not just on the art teacher. Art and reading interdisciplinary units are perfect for both right and left brained children, and with art education funding in jeopardy, regular classroom teachers are going to have to give attention to right brain function and its implications for regular classroom instruction.



The Dolch art paragraphs I have written work especially well to develop the reading fluency necessary for developing comprehension through the use of art. They also improve reading comprehension skills by teaching children to recognize the main idea. The Primer paragraphs are available here.


Another use of art in education is to check students' comprehension of nonfiction or subject area text by asking them to draw a picture of what they have read. A good example is the description of Azilia, a proposed settlement, which appeared in our Georgia History textbook. There was no picture, only a description, so I asked my students to draw a picture exactly as described.

I found an original sketch on the internet and printed it out so that we could compare their drawings to the real thing. It was amazing to see the beautiful artwork my students produced, and we enjoyed comparing them to each another's and also to the original.

This was the assignment that raised my awareness of the value of art in elementary education.

Art in education strengthening reading comprehension

Student artwork drawn from description of Azilia (special thanks to the very talented Bill Chesser!)

Art in education for aiding comprehension

Actual sketch of Azilia


All subject areas have specialized vocabularies which are often difficult for children to learn because it requires not only that they comprehend the terms but that they also remember them. Memory can take place only when both sides of the brain are active so art is a good means to insure that children are learning the vocabulary of that particular subject area.

To check students' comprehension of the terms "acute" and "obtuse," for instance, I asked them to draw two "Angle Animals" in their habitats with the mouth of one formed by an acute angle and the mouth of the other formed by an obtuse angle.

The results of this assignment were absolutely breathtaking, and I discovered some unbelievably talented artists.

Using art in math education

Angle animal indicating student's understanding of an acute angle. (Special thanks to Allison Lolley, the artist.)

Art education in the regular math classroom

Allison's picture demonstrating her understanding of the term "obtuse angle" - and her amazing artistic gift! (Thanks, Allison!)

For more ideas on the use of art in math, please see Teaching Math With Art


One of the surest ways to improve reading comprehension with art is with graphs and charts. Since these are visual representations of information, it makes sense, and teachers in ALL subject areas would see improvement in comprehension if they put these to work for them.

Graphic organizers are visual representations, too. There are many different kinds, and we all have our favorites so please share yours below!

Have a Favorite Graphic Organizer?

What's your favorite graphic organizer? Please share it with us!

[ ? ]

Upload 1-4 Pictures or Graphics (optional)[ ? ]


Click here to upload more images (optional)

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

(first or full name)

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

  •  submission guidelines.

(You can preview and edit on the next page)

Return to Reading Comprehension Activities from Art in Education

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.


Teaching Math With Art
Teaching math with art is an excellent strategy. The connection between the two is often overlooked in articles about teaching math, but the truth is that using art in math significantly improves retention of key concepts and vocabulary.

Strategies for Teaching Writing: Hold a Flower Show
Coordinate writing and art with a Flower Show in the spring by having children design their own flower seed packets for holding "story seeds."

The Art Window
Fine Art concepts with student work as teaching examples. A Curriculum and Directory offers art explorations for students, teachers and all interested in art experience. Learning joy for all ages.


Highly successful people have the ability to think "outside the box" to see new and creative solutions to problems. Experiences with art help nurture creativity, but some classroom practices can actually do the opposite.

Ten Classroom Creativity Killers are identified by Marvin Bartel, Ed.D. on his excellent website regarding art education in schools.

The Art of Graphic Organizers

Since graphic organizers are visual representations of information I am including them in this section. You already know about them, of course, and I thought it might be helpful to place some resources here for your convenience.

Common Types of Graphic Organizers

  • Venn diagram
  • KWL chart
  • Flow chart
  • Fishbone
  • T chart
  • Web

What's your favorite graphic organizer? Please scroll down and share it with us!


Online resources for graphic organizers

There are so many cool graphic organizers online! Here are links to some of them - I'm sure you'll find just the one you need!


Education Place 


Reading Quest

Teacher Files