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Two young girl students work together on a project using a laptop and Sphero BOLT.

It can often seem like hard lines are drawn between different disciplines and subjects in education. However, it is highly beneficial to take a more integrated approach to learning, one that recognizes and even encourages the links between different subject matters and learning paradigms. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) and ELA (English Language Arts) are the perfect example: the two learning approaches are fine on their own but become so much more when combined through interdisciplinary strategies and activities. In this article, we’ll look at some of the ways that the STEAM mindset can be seamlessly integrated into ELA curricula (and vice versa).   

Students code their Sphero indi to tell the story of the three little pigs.

Understanding STEAM in ELA 

ELA is an integral part of a quality education. The acronym, which stands for English Language Arts, refers to all subjects and skills pertaining to mastering the English language, including reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The importance of ELA can’t be overstated, as it builds literacy and teaches students how to process and communicate their ideas clearly. ELA subjects like reading and writing are also vital to expanding their horizons, helping them practice empathy, critical thinking, and creativity.  

In many ways, the goals of ELA and STEAM are in line. STEAM education is a holistic approach to learning that integrates Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics to not only impart knowledge to students but also encourage critical thinking and problem-solving skills. ELA and STEAM, sometimes seen as at odds, can be integrated organically so kids receive a well-rounded education. In fact, the STEAM mindset, which emphasizes the development of creative problem-solving and collaboration skills, as well as focusing on the learning process rather than the result, can be a natural fit for ELA subjects.   

Strategies for Integrating STEAM into ELA Curriculum  

There are diverse ways to combine STEAM and ELA, let’s look at some tried and tested strategies for integrating the two.   

Incorporating STEAM Literature  

A simple place to start when connecting STEAM and ELA is to introduce reading activities or literature on the topic of STEAM concepts. It goes without saying that being able to read about scientific phenomena or engineering concepts is vital to understanding them, as is acquiring the vocabulary needed to talk about STEAM content.   

Educators can assign readings that deal with scientific matters, such as Nat Geo Kids articles or non-fiction books, and then discuss new concepts or terms that students may not be familiar with. Incorporating STEAM literature in ELA not only enhances literacy but also broadens their knowledge and understanding of STEAM concepts and how the world works. By the same token, it is also helpful to integrate reading materials in STEAM classrooms alongside hands-on experiments. This integrative approach will also encourage a more inclusive learning environment that accommodates diverse learning styles.   

Project-based learning in ELA  

One of the primary strategies for STEM in the classroom is project-based learning. In this approach, students are tasked with coming up with and building hands-on solutions to real-world problems. STEAM-inspired project-based learning can be applied within ELA curricula in countless ways. For example, students can read the tale of Robinson Crusoe and then be invited to come up with solutions to problems he faces as a castaway, like designing and constructing a small-scale shelter or a raft model that can float. This activity is a great way to engage students in the ELA materials they are reading and connect them to the real world through engineering.  

It is also possible to apply STEAM’s problem-solving methodology to ELA learning. Ask an open-ended question about identity, community, or other themes commonly addressed in stories. From there, invite students to use books, local news, and other reading material as a resource, and then have them write down or present their response to the class. This type of project encourages students to make connections between what they are reading and their own experience of the world and take a problem-solving, analytical approach to ELA topics.   

Writing Across Disciplines  

Honing writing skills is one of the main tenets of ELA learning. Not only is learning how to write important for grammar and syntax, it’s also a way for students to process their knowledge and ideas, synthesize what they’ve learned, create connections, and communicate their thoughts clearly. These abilities, as any educator will know, are also highly valuable in a STEAM context.   

Students should, therefore, be encouraged to write not only in their English lessons, but also in other disciplines. Take, for example, the Jousting Tournament activity for Sphero BOLT. This interdisciplinary activity integrates STEM skills like robotics and programming with ELA subjects like reading and writing. Students can read about the history of jousting in preparation for the activity, and then write about what they learned, what challenges they faced, and what solutions they came up with in a report. Similarly, asking students to write a brief report after a science experiment or engineering lesson is a good habit to form, allowing them to think through what they learned and present educated conclusions.   

Digital Storytelling and Multimedia Projects  

Another reliable way to build a bridge between STEAM and ELA curriculum is to encourage students to use technology in their ELA assignments. This can be as simple as teaching them how to use computers and digital resources for their next research project or essay—a valuable lesson that will also improve their online literacy and ability to think critically about information available on the internet.    

Another option is to give students the opportunity to express their storytelling skills through multimedia projects that incorporate technologies like video or digital presentations. For example, in groups, students can conduct research on a famous engineer and then present a slideshow or video essay on their topic to the class. This multidisciplinary activity integrates research, storytelling, and public speaking skills with computer literacy and engineering subject matter.     

Use Sphero for Integrated STEAM and ELA Curriculum  



Ultimately, there are many ways that ELA can be enhanced through STEAM education and STEAM lessons can be improved using ELA learning. For educators, applying effective STEAM approaches, like project-based learning and hands-on problem solving, to ELA subject matter can make the latter appeal to a broader array of students. At the same time, bringing STEAM subjects into ELA projects through research, reading, and writing can encourage a deeper understanding of concepts and a stronger ability to digest and convey new ideas. At Sphero, many of our robotics and coding activities embrace interdisciplinary learning in this way. You can find more activities like the Joust Tournament here for an integrated STEAM and ELA curriculum.  

About the Author

The Sphero Team

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The Sphero Team is comprised of current and former educators, education content and curriculum writers, product designers, engineers, executive leadership, and other experts in their fields. Learn more about who we are and what we do at

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