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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Spears Art Studio, Inc. level K-8



Teach you children art from a Biblical World View is what the CD cover promises, but I have to be honest...my first thought was how good can a CD based art program really be? I mean, I'm not really artsy. Not in a talented artist sort of way. And I'm not computer compatible, as any frequent reader of my blog knows. God knew what he was doing when He had me marry a computer genius. So what was the likelihood that this program was going to work for us?

I have to say, this is one case where first impressions were DEAD wrong. I LOVE Spears Art Studio, Inc. To make it work, all you have to do is put it in your CD drive. Even I can do that :-). Then, the directory comes up, and you just click on what you want. Diane Spears has put together an amazingly comprehensive curriculum on one little CD. Print what you need, and save the money and the trees by reading the rest on your computer screen. She begins her directory with frequently asked questions, and also has separate icons for an introduction to the art curriculum, an article on way art is good for your brain, the curriculum's scope and sequence, and then art activities for each month of the homeschool year, September through May, as well as an appendix.
Somehow, Diane manages to cover everything in a very professional, legitimate way without it seeming too stilted or overwhelming for those with little experience teaching art. But those with art backgrounds would not feel "talked down" to either. While the curriculum is broken out into months on the directory, it is further sub-divided into weeks when you click on it, with each week having a theme, related Bible verses and Christian World View concepts, art objectives, art activities broken out by grade level, and comparable "famous" works of art that make use of the techniques the students are studying. I was truly overwhelmed with how comprehensive it is! And unlike many art curriculums that teach their art concepts with no tie-in to the what day it is on the calendar, Spears Art purposefully embraces holidays and uses them as a springboard for the children's projects such as making your own Christmas wrapping paper by making motifs out of cookie cutters and shaped sponges dipped in paint. Another example is using Valentine's Day to teach ideas like symmetry, asymmetry, and low relief.
So what do I love most about this program? Several things. First, I love its focus on God as THE creator. We worship an artistic God-just look at the sunset. Each step of the way, Diane ties the lessons in to worship and to having a Biblical World View. I also love that while it is a complete and comprehensive curriculum, it is also easy to pick and chose things to do without doing every activity. That is how this program has worked best for us, and the kids have produced some really cool things. I like that templates, sample finished projects, and thorough materials lists are provided, so everything you need is either right there or clearly laid out for you. And I actually like that I have a whole curriculum on one little CD. It takes up so little space, and I just print what I need. Also, when my kids get older, there is a High School level available.
Are there drawbacks? Sure, there always are :-). First, if you don't homeschool by the traditional school year, you might really have to invest some time to make this monthly format work for you-especially since some of the projects are tied to holidays in that month. (I do want to point out thought that October focuses on HARVEST-there are no Halloween activities.) Second, you must have computer access to us this (although it appears you can get a print version too). Third, if you are a "fly by the seat of your pants" sort of homeschooler, and you don't have some good art books or internet access, you may need to plan in advance to get books with copies of the famous artwork in them that tie in to each week's theme...or just skip that part :-).
The bottom line on this one might surprise some of my friends who know how thrifty I am. THIS is a curriculum I would buy. The disk sells for $39.95 (click HERE to purchase it from Spears Art), and I think it's totally worth it. My children have taken "real" art lessons with a local artist and produced some amazing things, but I'm very impressed with the ease of these projects and the simplicity with which I was able to teach them. Also, those "real" art lessons were $15 a week/$60 a month, making $40 for a year a REAL bargain :-).

Below are some sample lessons from the younger elementary grades:

One of October's projects. The kids cut out each "slice" of the pumpkin, filled it with the suggested shape, and then glued them to a pumpkin outline. I think it turned out great.

This is from a lesson about the color wheel and trees. The tree is drawn with yellow first, then red, then blue. The background is filled in afterward. This one was done by one of the kids with colored pencils.


I gave it a try with big (and really nice) crayons that we have. I think the crayons turned out better. The kids thought so too, so they tried it again in crayon.


To read more reviews about Spears Art by other Crew members, go HERE.
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