Saturday, January 28, 2017

Homeschool Art for the Artistically Challenged

This is the 5th and final week of the Virtual Curriculum Fair and our theme is Seeking Beauty.  The theme is pretty open, because we can discuss art, music, handicrafts, and anything else that brings beauty into our life.

When I first started to really look into homeschooling, and I was reading about and drooling over the Charlotte Mason philosophy, I had this grand idea that I would include fine arts regularly as part of our homeschool.  We would have art appreciation, read poetry over tea time while we discuss our composer of the month, do weekly art projects where the kids were free to create, listen to classical music in the background during play time. . . you know, the whole shebang.  Yeah, I can't believe I just said shebang.

The problem with all that, is that I have no artistic talent whatsoever.  I'm the mom still drawing stick figures, okay.  Coming up with ideas for art stresses me out.  There are art supplies I've never heard of before, much less used.  Cleaning up after a big art project is a pain.  I always forget to turn the music on.  I don't really know enough about the composers, nor do I recognize very many pieces, to have a conversation with my kids.  In other words - fine arts was intimidating to me.  I was feeling like a failure at exposing my kids to all of the beauty that the world has to offer!

We have several great resources for art and music, but it seems that using them consistently as a stand-alone curriculum just never happens the way I want.  What I've learned is that I can be "bad" at art, but still bring beauty into our home in many other ways, and it's okay if I just learn right along with them!  There is always more to learn.  There is always room for growth.

I've found that sometimes the easiest way to incorporate art is to literally take the easy way out.  It doesn't have to be a big detailed lesson to be engaging.  Sometimes we just need more than crayons or colored pencils so we break out different art supplies to shake things up a bit . . .

watercolor pencils for history notebooking

Honestly though, I usually just wait until they ask for it.  I throw a cheap tablecloth over the table and let them go.  Often they will each end up with multiple projects, drawings and paintings going on at the same time.  I've found that a lot of their problem solving and creativity comes when it's less structured like this.

free art time at their request

However, I do try be more intentional on occasion, and here are some of the resources we've used and enjoyed over the years, all of which are very easy for the artistically challenged to use.

Outside Lessons
Yes, please!  It doesn't get any easier than letting others teach!  They've taken various art and music classes over the years at co-op, and this year started introductory guitar.  Since we're not sure if it will continue, I think Elliott will start taking lessons through someone with the local music store, and Emory is interested in taking piano lessons with the music teacher.  Eleanor has expressed interest in dance, so we may look into a preschool class for her this fall if she's still interested.  I also consider all the plays and performances they've done at church over the years to be performing arts, because they're memorizing songs, verses, and speaking parts, as well as going through "rehearsals" and all that fun stuff before performing for a large group.

Yes, poetry is art.  It's also very easy to incorporate for the artistically challenged, because all I have to do is read!  Sometimes I read a couple of nursery rhymes or poems throughout the week from a children's poetry book.  Sometimes we read picture books written in rhyme, or poems turned into picture books.  {Rowing Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, and Paul Revere's Ride.}
We are also working our way through Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization, and it serves both artistic and literary purposes.

ARTistic Pursuits
We've reviewed K-3 Book 1, Book 2 and Book 3 and I think they are all fabulous.  They incorporate picture study and art appreciation, introduce us to new art supplies that an artistically challenged parent might not pick out, teach us basic art techniques and encourage creativity--it is not about replicating someone else's art, which I really appreciate.  Sometimes we do a lesson out of the book on our own, and sometimes I would choose one that tied into the art lesson from Five in a Row.

We're also starting to do more systematic history studies, and I think that will be a good way to tie ARTistic Pursuits in as well.  Speaking of history, we're almost to the point in our early American history study that I can tie in some of these resources more directly.

Five in a Row
You know I'm a fan of Five in a Row for their living book choices and their great approach to introducing social studies and science.  While we're not using FIAR exclusively right now, Jane Lambert also includes Fine Arts lessons for all of the units.  Typically it is visual arts, revolving around the style of the illustrator, a technique they used, or the medium they used.  Honestly, the art lessons have been hit or miss with my boys, but I always try to introduce them, because it's good exposure.  Sometimes she ties music lessons in as well when they fit.  Just recently we rowed Lentil and we used charcoal for the first time and everyone experimented with the harmonica for the first time as well, which they loved.

Other Resources
Draw Write Now - We have other drawing tutorial type books, but these are the books they are most likely to pull out on their own.

Art For Kids Hub - He now has a subscription based service now too, but we've really enjoyed all the free lessons we've used.  By we, I mean the boys.  This one is great too, because they prefer his drawing lessons, so they don't make a mess and they can work independently.

Maestro Classics
I'd seen their name everywhere, but we first listened to them through a review of Handel/The Sorcerer's Apprentice.  The boys really enjoyed them, so I bought a couple more.  We've also reviewed The Nutcracker, and since then I've finished buying them all.  We haven't listened to them all yet, but they are great for the car.  I love that they incorporate music appreciation and composer studies so seamlessly.  We just listen and learn!

Living Books
While it's hard to truly teach music and art with a book, they are excellent tools to enhance a study.  We reviewed a Music Appreciation course last year, and the composer biographies written by Opal Wheeler that they include are absolutely delightful.  Then sometimes, we use books to introduce us to music in a different way.  Like when we read the Nutcracker Ballet before listening to The Nutcracker so they would be familiar with the story first . . . and then rabbit trailing into a Tchaikovsky study.

As you can see, it's not a systematic approach, so some Type A's and creative mamas might be cringing right now, but it is what works for us.  How do you inspire beauty and creativity in your homeschool?

Now I invite you to visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about seeking beauty in their homeschools:
Links will all be live by Monday at 12 noon EST.
Living & Loving Art by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Putting the Fun in School by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Art Fun In Our Homeschool by Amanda @Hopkins Homeschool
Fine Arts Is The Fun Part by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
Washing Dust Off Our Souls by Lisa @ Golden Grasses
Bringing Beauty Into Your Homeschool Through Poetry by Dana @ Roscommon Acres
Seeking out the beauty... by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
Joy in Home Education by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Teaching Drawing (When You Can't Draw) by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home
Homeschool Art for the Artistically Challenged by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Jesus, Peace, Freedom & Our Homeshool by Meghan W @ Quiet In The Chaos
Fine Arts Options in High School by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Reluctant Artist? What do you do? by Annette @ A Net in Time
Making Fine Arts a Priority by Lisa @ McClanahan 7
Creative Pursuits by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Arts and Crafts in Our Homeschool by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed
Where Do You Find Beauty? by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
Looping our Beauty Topics Saved our Homeschool by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

An InLinkz Link-up

Week 1:  How We Choose Curriculum 
Week 2:  Teaching Language Arts without Curriculum
Week 3:  When You Don't Have a Math Plan
Week 4:  Exploring the World with Living Books
Week 5: Homeschool Art for the Artistically Challenged

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  1. I don't think you sound artistically challenged---you seem to have found a way to approach art that works for you and your family, and that's great. :)

  2. sounds like a great way to do art. Some resources that I haven't heard of before. :) Visiting from the VCF.

  3. Outsourcing is awesome! My kids took art classes from a homeschool-graduate/collage student and they learned so much!

    1. Taking a class with college student is a great idea!