Arts are integral to the PYP. They are a powerful mode of communication through which students explore and construct a sense of self and develop an understanding of the world around them. Arts provide students with a wide range of opportunities and means to respond to their experiences and engage with historical, social and cultural perspectives. Students are stimulated to think and to articulate their thoughts in new ways, and through a variety of media and technologies. The PYP recognizes that not all learning can be supported solely through language, and that Art as a medium of inquiry also provides opportunities for learning, communication and expression. Learning about and through Arts is fundamental to the development of the whole student, promoting creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving skills and social interactions.

Different Forms of Arts


Dance is an integral part of many cultures. Dance plays an important role in society as it brings people and communities together. To understand and respond to dance, students need to understand how dance is used in cultural, ritual and social contexts. Exploring dance in a historical and cultural context, and in a variety of genres, enriches the student’s experience in creating and responding to dance.
Dance uses the body as the medium of expression. Students develop confidence in their personal physicality through body awareness, balance, coordination, flexibility and strength.


Drama explores how students express themselves physically and vocally. In creating, students explore the use of facial expressions, gestures, movement, posture and vocal techniques to convey emotional or cultural meaning to both characters and stories. Students are exposed to a variety of dramatic forms including creative movement, impersonation, improvisation, mask work, musical, role play, scripted drama, and skit. In responding, students experience a wide variety of scripts and stories from different times, cultures and places and, where possible, access live theatre performances and presentations. Students are given opportunities to present their creative work to an audience, to witness their peers in performance and through this become critically aware audience members.


Music enables students to communicate in ways that go beyond their oral language abilities. Music delights and stimulates, soothes and comforts students; music allows students to communicate in a unique way. Musical experiences and learning begin with the voice. Students are given opportunities to discover a broad range of music experiences including classifying and analysing sounds, composing, exploring body music, harmonizing, listening, playing instruments, singing, notation, reading music, songwriting and recording. In creating, students use their imagination and musical experiences to organize sounds—natural and technological—into various forms that communicate specific ideas or moods. In responding, students are given the opportunity to respond to different styles of music, as well as to music from different times and cultures. Individually and collaboratively, students are given the opportunity to create and respond to music ideas.

Visual Arts

The term “Visual Arts” is used to describe practices that have been more traditionally described in education as “art, craft and design”. Students are exposed to a broad range of experiences that illustrate the field of Visual Arts, including architecture, collage, costume design, drawing, graphic design, film, illustration, jewellery, land art, mask making, metal work, painting, papermaking, and performance art.

The Role of Arts in the Programme of Inquiry

Arts in the PYP exemplify learning through inquiry because of the emphasis on, and the nature of the creative process. Arts provide a unique vehicle to enhance the understanding of the trans-disciplinary themes. Arts support the acquisition of essential knowledge and skills, the development of conceptual understanding, the demonstration of positive attitudes, and the taking of action.

Arts Strands


The process of responding provides students with opportunities to respond to their own and other artists’ works and processes, and in so doing develop the skills of critical analysis, interpretation, evaluation, reflection and communication. Students demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, methods and elements of drama, music and visual arts, including using specialized language. The responding strand is not simply about reflecting; responding may include creative acts and encompasses presenting, sharing and communicating one’s own understanding. By responding to their own artwork and that of others, students become more mindful of their own artistic development and the role that arts play in the world around them.


The process of creating provides students with opportunities to communicate distinctive forms of meaning, develop their technical skills, take creative risks, solve problems and visualize consequences. Students draw on their imagination, experiences and knowledge of materials and processes as starting points for creative exploration. They make connections between their work and that of other artists to inform their thinking and to provide inspiration. Both independently and collaboratively, students participate in creative processes through which they can communicate ideas and express feelings. The creating strand provides opportunities for students to explore their personal interests, beliefs and values and to engage in a personal artistic journey.

Source: Making the PYP happen: A curriculum framework for international primary education 2009