Thursday, March 5, 2009
ARTistic Pursuits Grade 4-6 Book One Review
One of the best parts about being on the TOS Crew has been trying out the arts related curriculums. At a time when public schools are scrambling for funding and cutting "extras" like art and music left and right, we have had the great fortune to be blessed with some wonderful arts curriculums, and ARTistic Pursuits is no exception.
This curriculum has blown me away! It is so user friendly, I think a motivated student could actually use it independently and come away with an amazing knowledge of art terminology, technique, history, and appreciation-not to mention great artistic ability. I know personally, I learned things in the first two lessons that had my kids awestruck with my "artistic ability"-and I'm not much of an artist.
The book we chose to review was the Grades 4-6 Book One since all three of my school aged children have had some art training. Book One focuses on "The Elements of Art and Composition". There are 16 units in the book, each teaching a different art concept like shape, texture, balance, depth, etc. There are four lessons in each unit, each focusing on different aspects of the unit's topic. For example, in the first unit, Space, the students first think about what they want to draw and how it would best fill the space...should the drawing be horizontal or vertical?...how do you get past all that WHITE and actually start drawing? Their first task is just to observe sometime familiar and draw it's outside edges. In this way, their visual vocabulary is built using words and pictures to guide them through the subject. (Below is a sample lesson page, to see more of these, go to their website.)
The second lesson involves Art appreciation and history. A famous piece of art is shown in the book as an example of the subject the unit focuses on (in unit one it is Washington Crossing the Delaware). They learn about the artist and the art piece as it relates to the topic, and then they try their hand at drawing something that embraces some element of the picture. In this unit's example, they stress that the painting was done based on the artist's imagination of the scene, and they encourage the kids to draw a scene from their imagination.
The third lesson talks about how to set up and draw. They learn about working from a photograph and from an object, and then they try their hand at two still lifes-one that is taller than it is wide (vertical) and one that is wider than it is tall (horizontal).
Lastly, they pull together everything they learned for a final project. In this lesson, that means they draw a picture using a photograph as a reference concentrating on orienting the paper correctly for the subject they chose to draw.
There are many "pros" to this program. As I mentioned about, it is laid out simply enough that it can be self directed by the student. It is very informative, but not at all boring. The exercises are simple, but effective. They provide a list of materials needed at the front of the book, and then again for each lesson. The book teaches them to explore different mediums and styles. And, it was thoroughly tested at a Christian school, and contains sample student work, so you and/or your students can get an idea of what other students created for each project. And the book is non-consumable, so you can use it forever and ever.
I'm really at a loss for a "con" on this one, other than the fact that while there is nothing at all in there that is offensive to Christians, and it was tested in a Christian school, it does not have any mention of God as the Creator or any religious reference at all. So, if you are looking for an art curriculum that enhances a Biblical World view, this is not it...but it in no way undermines a Biblical World view either.
ARTistic Pursuits has books for Preschoolers, grades K-3, 4-6, Junior High, and Senior High. Each is them is plastic wire bound and is $42.95 per book. My kids' art classes run $15 per class, so that's a deal in my book! The bottom line to me is that this is one excellent homeschool art curriculum. I'd highly encourage you to take a look. You can view lesson samples and order the books HERE.
To see what other members of the TOS Crew have said about this Grade 4-6 Book One and other levels of ARTtistic Pursuits, go HERE.