Sunday, February 12, 2017

Easy to Use Art Curriculum

Where I live (Maryland), art is a required subjects for homeschoolers in grades K-8.  What counts as art?  That's a good question.

Art appreciation is art.
Arts and crafts is art.
Drawing is art.
Painting is art.
Photography is art.
Interior Design is art.
Lettering and calligraphy are art.
Graphic Design is art.
Sculpture is art.
Cartooning is art.
Stop animation is art.

What parents choose to do for art depends on what they want and the importance they place on art.  I remember when my oldest daughter started drawing.  I didn't think much of it.  She could draw.  I signed up for a few random art classes.  But, as she grew older, I realized that she could take an assignment and run with it.   My husband and I saw that art needed to be a priority in our family, particularly in her case.

I've used a few different curriculums over the years.  I love Laura Chapman's older art textbooks for grades 1-6, because they incorporate both art appreciation and art projects.  My favorite arts and crafts books are Williamson Kids Can Books.  They're inexpensive to buy used and they use supplies you usually keep around the house.  For a video drawing curriculum, I loved See the Light Shine's video art curriculum.  It was an investment for the set, but we would do one lesson each week and practice that lesson the following week--which extended the length of the set for us.  There are a bunch of free resources on their site that are worth checking out.  This year I am teaching art to a group using one of Laura Chapman's book along with Animation Lab for Kids, which they are enjoying.

But, what if you're in the same place I am--trying to figure out how to fit everything in and art isn't a huge priority?  Or you want a simple art appreciation curriculum to use along with an arts and crafts curriculum...  Well, I was recently sent a curriculum to review that I really like.  I like the focus of the curriculum and how simple it would be to use.

The curriculum is titled A Child's First Introduction to Art:  What do you see?.  It was written by Laurie Bluedorn.

It is only available as an ebook, but you can print the pages of questions so that you can view the art on a computer or tablet at the same time.  This curriculum has three volumes so far.  Each ebook is $2.99 on Amazon.  The first volume is focused on center of interest and includes ten pictures with questions for each.  I liked what the author did with the questions and in choosing a focus.  This curriculum would be easy to use in a multi-age setting with kids in grades K-8.  I would discuss one picture a week and use it along with a practical art curriculum to help children learn how to look at art and think about what they are seeing.  I think the discussion of each picture would take between 5 and 15 minutes, depending on how much your children love to talk.  After finishing a book, you could go to an art museum with your kids and look at the art, discussing what the center of interest is in each picture to apply the lessons from this book.  The second volume is focuses on artists' use of primary colors and the third on light.

Many art curriculums have a high price tag or they are complicated to teach.  I like What Do You See? because it is so simple and straightforward.  Ms. Bluedorn did a wonderful job with it.  For students who have an artistic bent, this curriculum can provide an easy way to foster appreciation for other artsists' work.

Would What You See? be enough to satisfy my state's art curriculum requirement?  Yes.  If it meets your goals for them, then it is.  I think that getting through 1-2 volumes plus a trip to a museum (either virtual or in person) would be great exposure to art.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this curriculum for review from the author, but that these opinions are my own and I look forward to using it with my own children next year as part of our curriculum!

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