Monday, September 26, 2011

Art Video Curriculum

Two weeks ago, I reviewed the first art resource I found.    The CD by Jim Weiss could be used as a supplement.  It could be expanded into field trips and artist studies of each of the artists mentioned.  It could be your base if you wanted to develop your own art history curriculum.  

Today, I get to review a second art curriculum resource.

See the Light Shine is a Christian ministry that has developed a video art curriculum.  There are 9 DVDs in the set.  Pat Knepley is the artist teaching the lessons in the series.  Each DVD has 4 lessons in it with one bonus lesson.  They are short, only about 15 minutes in length.  Each lesson also talks about God and His Word.  The art concepts are all related to biblical concepts and our faith.  It was neat to me to see how the art teacher wove in lessons about God.  Art does reflect the beauty of God and His creation.  Art is also a very special act because it is a way that we reflect our creator.

There is a sample of the first three lessons on their site HERE.  
Here is the first one:  Art Class Freeview - Web Episode 01 from Kip Perry on Vimeo.

My children have done the first three lessons (as have I).  These art samples are mine.  

I have wanted to draw for a while now.  I even bought a set of watercolor paints.  But, I struggled to know what to do with them.  I needed someone to show me.  I was reminded of my difficulty as I watched these videos.  There are many wonderful art curriculums that consist of a written text.  Because videos are a different medium, they  have different strengths and weaknesses, which I want to elaborate on.

One of the greatest strength of videos is that you can actually "see" someone create a work of art.  You can see how they move their hands and all the little steps involved (if they show them).  If you don't have access to an art teacher, or you yourself aren't experienced in teaching art, there are likely many tricks and techniques you won't be able to demonstrate.  I appreciated "seeing" Pat's demonstration of how to hold the pencil so that you can shade.  She was very specific and clear in her directions.  I also liked her explanation of how to draw a lighter or darker line by holding the pencil differently.  I think it was very appropriate and easy to understand for children.  Other strengths of this art curriculum, which is best suited to children in grades 1-6, are that the lessons are easy to follow and simple.  The lessons build on one another.  Also, the art materials needed are inexpensive and easy to obtain. 

The one weakness of this curriculum is that the lessons don't give specific assignments to continue the techniques in the lesson.  Pat gives general assignments, but as the assistant art teacher/homeschool parent, you'll want to make specific assignments for your children.   For example, I would suggest that you repeat lesson number 2 with a different object.  I do want to note that after ten times drawing the same object for my contour dressing, my drawing still didn't look right.  Your child may have the same experience.  Lesson 4 could be repeated with another object.  If you're anything like me, write these plans into your lesson planner.  I'd also suggest that you do these lessons with your children.  Usually, when my children watch a video, I use that time to take care of other things that I need to.  In this case, that's not the best idea.  Because these lessons need practice, and additional reinforcement, you need to know what's on them.  You will learn along with your children.  I find that with every year I learn so much right alongside my children.  Many of the gaps in my own education are being filled in.  

Sami's Shoe Drawing
You may wonder how my children liked the lessons.  Their reaction was a mixed one that requires explanation.  The week before I let them do these art lessons, they watched God's Runaway, another video by See The Light Shine.  They loved the story and the art that they created with one of the lessons on the DVD.  When they watched these lessons, the video wasn't as "entertaining".  These art lessons are intended to develop foundational drawing skills in your children.  Most children, and people for that matter, want to create a work of art before they learn how to shade and draw a light or dark line.  So, as you might expect, my children thought lessons 1and 2 were "okay".   They were expecting every lesson to be like God's Runaway.  But, by the time we got to lesson 4, they had adjusted their thinking and really enjoyed drawing their shoes.  I think that they would enjoy it more as the lessons progressed and they were drawing more pictures.  The first few lessons just happen to be very basic--and needed!  The great thing about the lessons is that they are short and work well with multiple ages at the same time.  If you're having a hard time fitting art into your schedule--whether because of time or expensive supplies, these videos could be a great fit for your family.
Autumn's Shoe Drawing

Using an art curriculum, or any curriculum really, needs input and ideas from the parent to make it fit for your family.  I let my children watch the first two lessons on their own.  I shouldn't have done that.  I watched the fourth lesson with them.  We paused the video when we needed to and I explained and reinforced what the art teacher was instructing them to do.  My older daughter wanted to rush and not really "look" closely at the contours of her shoe.  I encouraged her to slow down and take time to "look" at it as she drew.  You may find that it is helpful to watch it through once and then draw together.  Or you may find that it is most helpful to pause the video several times during the lesson and discuss what the teacher is talking about.  I would definitely say that it was helpful for my children to see me drawing alongside them and explaining to them what curves I saw in my shoe.

When I'm considering curriculum for my children, I have a couple of priorities:  1) Will it teach them what I want them to know?  2)  Is it doable or will it feel burdensome?  3)  Does it appeal to me--do I want to teach it?  If I don't, I will put it off every day.  4)  Do I think my children will enjoy it and will they be able to learn well from this curriculum?  5)  Will it fit in our budget?   Number 4 is a conversation for another day, but when it comes to art I want my children to really enjoy it.  It is not an academic subject in my eyes.  I've addressed the other questions in this review already except for #5.  Cost.  The set of DVDs is $100.  On the website, it says that the curriculum could be used over a year.  If you give extra assignments, you could alternate each week between 1 video lesson and 1 extra assignment given by you and stretch out the curriculum to 2 years.  There is another option of a monthly subsccription for $10/month.  Each month 4 lessons (or 1 DVD) becomes available to you.  I think the DVD option is better, though, and much more economical.  

This is a long review, but hopefully a very thorough and helpful one.  If you're interested in this curriculum, it can be purchased through the store at See The Light Shine. The sample lessons are on the website.  You can also purchase the first DVD for $5, which includes shipping.  

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of the first DVD in this series for review from See The Light Shine.

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