Friday, September 16, 2011

Studying Art

I have discovered over the past three years that it is often difficult for me to get around to teaching my children art.  I appreciate and value art, but at the end of the day I find that I am tired and often don't want to get all of the materials out needed for our art lesson.  So, I've been searching for solutions to my procrastination when it comes to teaching art.

As I talked with friends, I've discovered that many of this struggle with this same dilemma!  It's not an essential subject, but it is required by many states, including Maryland where we live.  Over the past two months I've come across several great resources that I am going to be posting reviews of over the next few months.

The first resource I found is one of Jim Weiss' recordings on the Masters of the Renaissance.  When we began listening to this cd, I realized how little I know about Art History.  This cd is a wonderful introduction to Art History because it helps provide some of the historical background of art in Italy.  I have to admit that the first time we listened to the cd I got a bit lost--since I was driving.  But, I heard more and more of the details each subsequent time we've listened to it.  My children have responded well to it in the car and have enjoyed listening to the stories on the cd.  My brother happens to live in Italy and he recently visited us.  It was wonderful to listen to this cd so that I could have a better understanding of the country he lives in.

This recording begins by telling the story of the Medici family in Florence, Italy.  Weiss goes on to tell the stories of Donatello, DaVinci, and Michaelangelo.  This cd would be a wonderful jumping off place for studying art history with 2nd and 3rd graders.  Older children would enjoy it as well.  

These are the ideas that have run through my head of how you could use this for teaching art:
1) If you have an art museum nearby with painters from the Renaissance period, this would be a wonderful cd to listen to before a visit so that your children would have a frame of reference for what they are seeing at the museum.  
2) You could make a notebook with pages for each of the artists.  Your children could listen and write down notes of what they think is most important.  Notetaking will be an important skill for them down the road.
3) Dover has a wide selection of art coloring books.  Color as you listen...
4) Pick one of the artists and do a report.  At second or third grade level, this would mean the artist's name, when and where he lived, and what they are known for.  A cover and illustration could be made to go along with the report.  
5) For older children, talk about what they are most curious about and then pursue further study of that time period or artist.  The student can do a more in-depth research report.

When I first started homeschooling, I remember my mother in law mentioning to me that some families studied art for only a portion of the year.  I am beginning to understand why.  With so many subjects to tackle (and so much of life to handle), it can sometimes be helpful to study one subject for only a portion of the year.  If you wanted to do a short unit on art history and another unit doing art, this resource might be a great and affordable fit for your family.
This cd is a wonderful treat to listen to and learn from as you're running errands and driving from one place to the next.  

I am very pleased to find such a neat recording about art history.  

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of Masters of the Renaissance from Greathall Productions for review.

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