It’s no secret that my children love to learn about art. And it’s also no secret that I’m not an artist. What’s a homeschool Mom to do? This summer, the kids are having their drawing lessons b using the Entire Level II projects from ArtAchieve to make everyone happy.
Summer is a great time to work on an art class. It means that the children are learning a valuable skill while feeling that they’re just having fun. It means we can feel more relaxed about our homeschool days and not stress that the kids are ‘fooling around’. I’m really quite impressed at what they’ve already learning, and they’re only 2/3 of the way through the course!
We’ve been given access to the Artchieve online course for the Entire Level II program for one year (the courses can be purchased in groups for a year, or by individual project with a year’s licence). The guidelines say that it is for children from about grade 4 upward to adult. Tristan is entering grade 3 and Kallista grade 1, and it’s working well for both of them (although if it was only Kallista taking the course, I would have chosen Level I).
I must state that one thing that really ‘drew’ me to this course was the international flavour of it. The art projects are from various countries around the world. From a Korean wedding duck to German Nutcrackers, and plenty more, it provides children with many opportunities to learn about countries and cultures outside of their own.
Each of the drawing lessons comes with:
- a list of supplies (all of which we already had, which was fantastic)
- Suggestions for cross-curricular connections
- The approximate time needed to complete that class
The time needed probably wasn’t too far off on some days, but on other days it did take my children a lot longer to complete a lesson; but they were putting so much concentration and effort into their lessons I usually didn’t mind.
We did tend to break up the lessons by having the children watch the lesson (most are available in your choice of Powerpoint slides or streamed video), do the warm up, and start the outline of the main project. On the second day they would colour or paint their project. The kids have been doing about two projects a week.
How the drawing lessons are organised:
In each lesson, John Hofland tells his students a little about the subject of the day’s art project. He outlines the ‘rules’ about the class (which contain that each piece will be different so don’t compare your work to anyone else’s, and that there is no such thing as a mistake in art; don’t fret about your project and complain about it until it has been completed). I love that on occasion John also makes ‘errors’ and shows his students how to work them into the final piece.
My children can be very particular at times, so I’ll admit that there were tears on more than one occasion when things didn’t go as they’d planned – but now they are better at understanding that how a picture looks now isn’t the way it will look when it’s done. They’re becoming more relaxed about it.
John gives his students a way to warm up their hands and minds before they begin, and he has some musical recommendations for listening to while doing art.
Next is a ‘warm up’ which usually (so far) consists of the kids working on the lines they’ll be doing in the project, but split into smaller, mixed up squares. This can be quite fun, and the children have become much more competent at this.
Then John takes his students step-by-step into drawing an outline of their project. He uses different techniques throughout the course – from drawing a grid on your page for line placement, using your hand/fingers as measures, and using ‘planning dots’ to think about and plan out where your next line will need to start, curve, and stop. Tristan thinks these planning dots are the most amazing thing! He’s been using them while drawing other pictures that aren’t in the course.
After the basics have been completed, John turns it over to the students to finish the project with paints, markers, chalk pastels, etc. He may give examples of how they can finish their picture, including the background, but he encourages the kids to do their own thing.
What do we think about ArtAchieve?
The children are really loving these drawing lessons, and they really are learning and retaining the information John provides them with, as I’ve mentioned above with Tristan using ‘planning dots’. And by working with the square grids, he can now complete symmetry drawings – something that he would never attempt before and now he finishes beautifully.
Having John teach the lessons with the streaming is similar to attending a live class, but you can pause, stop, and replay any part of the lessons that you need to. Something you can’t do ‘in real life’.
When I ask if the kids would like to do a lesson, they get out all of their supplies and set up everything on their own, and they also put everything away (mostly). They are learning about taking the initiative, motivation, and perseverance. I can’t complain about that!
Tristan is looking forward to completing this course and then transferring his new knowledge into drawing and painting a picture of a sunrise over the Irish Atlantic coast bay where we were camping. I can’t wait to see how this turns out!
And with some of the lessons we are expanding the children’s knowledge of cultures. Sometimes there are videos provided for the kids to watch; other times I may search one out for them. If we have music at home (such as The Nutcracker), then I play that in the background for them. A book or story is also a great way to learn more.
John has done the legwork (visiting over 30 countries and using the images from his travels for this course), and he’s thought about how to expand each lesson and provides many ways to teach about it across subjects. And the children’s continued enthusiasm (not to mention great finished projects), gives ArtAchieve an A+ for us!
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