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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Spears Art Curriculum K-8 CD

For more information on Spears Art Curriculum by Diane S. Spears, Ed.D. Christian Education, Artist, visit http://www.spearsartstudio.com/

I am not an artist. Let me repeat: I am not an artist, at all. Now I am a crafter, an avid crafter who enjoyed art in my school days so long ago, but I am not an artist. So I am always excited when I have the chance to send my homeschooled children to art lessons taught by an art teacher, since I know our home experiences in that subject area will likely be greatly lacking.

I am a firm believer in creativity; writing for pleasure, drawing, painting, crafting, building, sculpting, playing an instrument, and singing. Over the years I have bought four or five art programs in the hopes I would actually use them and spur this kind of creativity on in my kids. I have drawing books in my cabinet, as well as art ideas books and multitudes of craft books.

We begin the year with high hopes of doing weekly art lessons using these books, and we often do accomplish some lessons in the first month or so. But I find that my biggest challenge is not the mess we make or that trying to teach art intimidates me---it is that I find art time-consuming when we already have so much core curriculum to cover. As the weeks turn into months it never fails that I feel so pressured to cover Bible, language, and math, that I skip the manipulatives, educational board games, and yes, art. You know, the fun learning activities that are hands-on and actually stick with the children. Of course, this is followed by guilt. I again spent money on supplies that I didn't use, and I know that my children and I enjoy those hands-on projects as a sort of family bonding time. I recall the few art lessons we have done with fondness, remembering little tousled heads bent over papers, with intense frowns on faces as the chubby fingers swirled on paint and emblazoned the pages with splashes of color from acrylics and oils. Those moments when no one was fighting, all were creating. There was no right or wrong way to do it; you just made it all your own. I still treasure those masterpieces. I know how important art is to my children's education. I know it can be relaxing, peaceful even, a way to briefly escape. So why don't we do it more? Lack of time is really my art-enemy.

So then, what would make this time-pressed mom be able to really have an art lesson and stick with a curriculum? First, I need well-planned lessons with clear-cut instructions, materials lists, and objectives, and secondly I need it to cover all my children's ages (preferably having them work together on the same project when possible). I need all the hard work to be done for me, so I can pick up the curriculum and go, and easily make art a part of our weekly school time. I need it to use various materials I might already have on hand. I need it to be cost-effective. I need it to be balanced, a blend of arts and crafts. And I need it to be well-written so that this mom with no art background whatsoever can effectively teach the subject without adding more stress to my day.

For last year's art I was able to take advantage of some wonderful classes taught to our homeschool group from a certified art teacher. We discovered, to our disappointment, that she had decided to take this year off to spend time with her own children. I just knew art was over. Then I got a CD copy of an art curriculum from Spears Art Studio.

I was at first overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information contained on the disk, everything from a scope and sequence to a Q&A section, to a glossary of art terms to a supply list. These helpful tools come in addition to charts and tables for each lesson to help you keep it all organized, an article on why art is actually good for your brain, art-to-history connections, 35 weekly themes with 137 patterns to print and use and more than 260 activities, all from a God-centered viewpoint. The lessons and activities can be printed for use in your home or in a co-op setting, and only costs $39.95 plus SH. If you like, you can purchase a printed volume of the same lessons in black and white inside a binder, plus you'll also get a copy of the CD with color pages to print as needed for $134.99.

Keep in mind this curriculum is for grades k-8 and is enough for years to come, making it very economical.

The themes are seasonal but you can use the lessons as you please, any time of the year. Lessons are broken down by age level so while every age level’s activities are connected to the weekly theme, the children might be doing projects that are very different. This can be easily adapted to fit into the homeschool family's levels and ages by doing the same project on easier or more difficult levels.

For example, when my children and I covered one of September's themes, Awareness of Season, rather than letting my children each do the projects in their own grade level which tied into the central theme, I picked one lesson ("Leaf Windows" from grade 3) and allowed all three children to try it. It was very easy to complete the lesson and the children enjoyed making their pictures. Another day we tried an October lesson called Stained Glass Still Life where the children used glue to outline a still life they had previously drawn, and then filled in the outlines with bright oil pastels....beautiful , simple, but something I would never have thought to do. My oldest son who is in the eight grade tried his hand at a lesson on making a paper human body model, posing him, and then sketching him. Soon my third grader had to so the same.

My children are enjoying this. I am finding it easy to use. I really think I could add art back into our week with this curriculum. I believe it could easily be used following the season's themes or by simply picking a topic at random. I can see how it would fit into our unit studies (and finding a matching themed art lesson to go along with my units is very easy to do with the table of contents and overview for each month). This curriculum could be used for years without repeating lessons. I know that my third grader and preschooler will be able to cover each lesson for each grade level throughout their entire elementary school education. Worth the money? You can be sure it is at my house!

There are many other bonuses in this curriculum, including year-long ongoing projects you can opt to complete like a Noah's Ark/flood study.

There are lessons on Ms. Spears site for highschoolers as well, so the whole family can get a complete art foundation. There is really no way to fully describe this full curriculum, so check it out for yourself at http://www.spearsartstudio.com/.


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