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ARTS FIRST was initiated when the Hawai‘i State Legislature enacted ACT 80/99. This legislation named the arts as a core subject in Hawai‘i prior to the No Child Left Behind national mandate. It also called for Hawai‘i's major stakeholders in arts education to revise the State's Fine Arts standards and develop a strategic plan. In 2001, ACT 306/01 was passed into law formally naming the ARTS FIRST Partners and mandating the implementation of the strategic plan.


The partners are: Hawai‘i Department of Education, Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, UH College of Education, UH College of Arts and Humanities, Hawai‘iAssociation of Independent Schools, and Hawai‘i Arts Alliance.

The goals of ARTS FIRST Hawai‘i Strategic Plan for Arts Education are:

1) To guarantee a comprehensive arts education based on the Hawai‘iContent and Performance Standards for every elementary student in the State; and 

2) To enable every high school student to achieve the standards in one or more of the arts disciplines by grade 12. The plan builds upon four objectives - Advocacy, Research, Teaching, Standards.

To achieve these goals, the ARTS FIRST Partners created an ESSENTIAL ARTS Toolkit for for K-5, generalist classroom teachers. The Toolkit provides a standards-based framework that integrates the arts into curriculum linked with other core subjects, mathematics, science, language arts, social studies.

ARTS FIRST Essential Arts Toolkit

The ARTS FIRST Essential Arts Toolkit: Hawai‘i Fine Arts Grade Level Guide for the K-5 Classroom Teacher, 2nd edition, is a unique document designed for use by elementary classroom teachers. Scarcity of instructional time and the pressures of an already crowded curriculum necessitate an approach to the arts as an integral part of elementary classroom learning. This Toolkit is a supplement to the Hawai‘i Department of Education's Arts Instructional Guide and facilitates student achievement of the Hawai‘i Content and Performance Standards III. 


At each grade, the Toolkit provides framework charts to link the arts to other core areas, sample lessons, assessment tasks, instructional strategies, and resources. Teachers are encouraged to integrate key arts concepts with other content areas. 


Educators, teaching artists, and parents may download the Toolkit here as pdf files.

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