Literacy in the creative arts

Unpacks the links between the creative arts and literacy through research and examples of literacy embedded in the creative arts.


Watch the literacy of the creative arts video (03:08).

You can use creative arts across the whole curriculum. Let's look at the links between literacy and the arts.


The creative arts is important in its own right when explicitly taught.

But did you know it can also contribute to developing literacy skills at the same time?

The creative arts have so many opportunities for students to develop their general skills. If only they could learn literacy skills while acting out, sketching cartoons, or singing up a storm.

The good news is they can.

Vocabulary growth occurs whenever students are exposed to new material like a story, singing a song, role playing, following dance steps, or describing an artwork.

Dance, drama, music, and visual arts give opportunities for emotion and expression, creating meaning, enjoyment, imagination, and emotional responses.

We all know there's value in arts learning. After all, it's a full brain-and-body workout. 'A man paints with his brains, not with his hands.'

'Every time a musician picks up the instrument, there are fireworks going off all over their brain.'

'Creative drama and dance activities provide rich verbal classroom interactions.'

But learning through arts is also powerful in its own right. 'Creativity will be the currency of the 21st century.'

The digital age has changed the way modern learners learn. For generations to thrive, our methods need to adapt amongst today's distractions and vividly engage students.

After all, creativity involves imagining, planning, and experimenting through artistic concepts and involves collaboration, communication, critical, and creative thinking-- in other words, the four C's.

These are at the core of the creative arts.

Given the increasing capability of technology to do almost anything that can be reduced to routines,

it may be that the greatest contributions to economic growth will in the future come from the creative arts.'

'Creativity is now as important in education as literacy.'

You can use creative arts across the whole curriculum. Let's look at the links between literacy and the arts.

Drama - creating narratives using drama or a text as stimulus. Why not compose scripts, ads, another text types

through play building and improvisation?

Music-- singing songs or performing and moving to songs that relate to a selected text.

How do the lyrics contribute to the meaning of the song?

Visual arts-- creating artworks to reflect a text.

What about when writing an artist intent statement to accompany an artwork?

Or dance and interpreting the movements of each other.

Use objects, images, or ideas to inspire the creation of a dance


The arts inspire outcomes.

It may just be the key to our survival.

[End of transcript]


The literacy you are teaching without even knowing it.

  • Reading, singing and analysing the lyrics of a song. Breaking up rhythms and syllables.
  • Discussing musical preferences and musical concepts. For example, using adjectives for tone colour - a 'majestic' sound.
  • Exploring the structure of a piece of music - relate this to the structure of a written text.
    Using quality literature as stimulus for composing or organising sound. For example, recreating a scene from a text, creating sound effects or sound stories to match the text. Why not include visual literacy?
  • Write a story based upon a composition you have heard or created, for example, listen to Beethoven's 6th Symphony Pastoral.

Visual arts

The literacy you are teaching without even knowing it.

  • Discussing artworks, artists, preferences, artistic forms and techniques. For example, describing the way an artist has used a particular technique to create an effect or interpretation.
  • Exploring the structure of an artwork - how has an artist constructed it and what layers were involved in this process? Planning an artwork is just like planning a writing task.
  • Using quality literature as a stimulus for creating own artworks. For example, recreating a scene from a text, creating images to reflect the text.
  • Exploring visual literacy or picture books. How does this representation tell a story? Create your own. Explore and discuss subject matter and interpretation by artists and audiences.
  • Using a series of artworks or illustrations to construct a narrative such as using a set artist or through programs such as Storybird.
  • Reading about artworks, art in advertising and media. Critically discussing meaning and intention.
  • Writing a story based upon an artwork you have seen. Firstly, discuss perspective and possible meanings. What could the artist have been trying to convey? What role does the title have?
  • Writing in visual arts journals or reflecting upon practice.
  • Critically reflecting upon historical studies of art and artists, representation, conceptual strength and meaning.


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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