Homeschool Posts

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Spears Art K-8 Christian Art Curriculum Review


We all try to provide a well-rounded education to our children, and I think that most would agree art is an important component. But there's more to art than just cutting and pasting...there's art appreciation, elements of art and design, and finding a way to link the importance of beauty to the rest of our studies. A daunting task for those of us with little art training. Enter Spears Art Studio, Inc. This company was started by Diane Spears, an artist with a Doctorate in Christian Education/Art (you can see some examples of Diane's art and read her bio here). Diane has created an art curriculum aimed at incorporating God's word and a love of God's world in understanding and appreciating beautiful works of art, as well as learning to create art. She offers both a complete K-8 art curriculum as well as a high school curriculum. As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was given a copy of the K-8 curriculum on cd-rom and the opportunity to review it.

The K-8 Spears Art curriculum really IS a complete curriculum. It comes to you on cd-rom with pdf files for the overview, the introduction, the scope and sequence, and finally the curriculum divided by month. (Note: it follows a typical school year starting in September and ending in May, but there are plenty of activities here to spread it out to a year-round curriculum.) Each month is divided up into 4 weeks and each week begins with an outline of that week's theme, including the theme objectives, a verse from scripture, a list of recommended images to obtain (from your library or the internet) for art history, "teacher inspiration," and sometimes charts or other visual aids. The teacher inspiration component varies quite a bit from week to week depending upon the topic. For instance, for October week #3 the theme is "Color Studies" and your inspiration consists of an explanation of color as an element of art, a discussion of Biblical color symbols, and several color/eye perception experiments that you can demonstrate to your students. The theme for September week #3 is "Who are you in Christ?" and the inspiration consists of studying Corinthians 3:16 and then discussing our spiritual selves and our physical selves, including distinguishing between our spiritual senses and our physical senses (you can see how this would be related to art).

After the introduction of the theme for the week there are several activities categorized by grade level. Some activities are for all or several grade levels (easily modified for differing abilities) and others are for particular levels. At the top of each activity page you will find a picture of the completed activity and then a list of objectives, the week's scriptural verse, pertinent vocabulary, motivation and focus, materials needed and finally detailed instructions on how to do the activity. Any needed templates or patterns are included in the pages that follow. A few of the activities we tried:
  • September week #3 "Generic Faces" for all grades. The activity was to use the generic face template (both portrait and profile) as a guide to create a face in order to explore facial proportions. This activity was not entirely successful with my kiddos as the idea of drawing a face in profile is a bit foreign to them. They also seemed to feel a little overwhelmed by the generic face given. I would probably relabel this one to grades 3/4 and up.
  • November week #4 "Thank You Lord, for my food" for grade K. Templates were given of various types of food you might find on your Thanksgiving plate to color and cut out. Then we pasted them on a paper plate and pasted that to a construction paper "placemat": essentially a collage. My little ones enjoyed this immensely as Mary colored all her foods various shades of pink and purple (her favorite colors) and Peter cut up each of his foods into little tiny bits that we then pasted together mosaic style. The grandparents loved getting these on Thanksgiving.
  • November week #4 "Thank You Lord for..." grades 3-5. The activity was to design a Thank You card using the template which divided the space up into various sized rectangles, kind of like a patchwork quilt or a sampler. This reinforced the need for planning out the use of space.
I apologize for my lack of foresight, I actually neglected to take any pictures of these and they were given away to Grandparents. Most of our art lessons this fall have been closely related to our other studies (for example, right now we are learning about the Jesse tree and creating paper ornaments of the symbols to put on our Christmas tree and last week we were studying illuminated manuscripts and the kiddos created their own "illuminated" paintings to adorn our Christmas cards). But, I'm looking forward to the Spring when I can dive into this art curriculum deeper and try more of the projects:
  • May week #1 Third Day of Creation: 3-D sunflowers from the templates given or a low-relief flower garden;
  • March week #1: A Spring Trees collage;
  • April week #2 Fifth Day of Creation Fish and Birds: Magnificent Birds including wax resist, bird mobile, bird prints, and mosaics
  • And lots more.
All the background information you need is here along with a list of materials to gather, including prints and books for art appreciation/history. There is a fair amount of prep time involved, though, as you will have to check your local library for the prints and suggested books ahead of time and of course make sure you have the necessary materials (most of them are typical art supplies, though, and you are often given choices of different materials to use). You'll also want to devote some time to the "teacher inspiration" sections to get a clear understanding of the elements you are teaching and read over the scripture references...this isn't a curriculum you can just pick up and run with at a moment's notice. That said, you can use as much or as little of this curriculum as you like...if you prefer to just use the activities and skip the art appreciation until your children are older, go for it. Or, if you prefer to do the same activity with all different ages, most of these activities can be easily modified. I do think this is a valuable resource as most of the art programs I've seen tend to focus on one particular aspect of art, whether it be the technical part how to draw, paint, etc.) or how to appreciate it, this curriculum has it all in one package.

The Spears Art K-8 Christian Art Curriculum is available directly from Spears Art Studio, Inc. on cd-rom in color pdf for $39.95. It is also available in black and white hardcopy (3-ring binder) with the color cd-rom included for $134.95. Prices include shipping. To order or to download the table of contents and some free lessons to try, click here.

If you'd like to read reviews of this product by other homeschoolers, click on the banner below:

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