Thursday, January 26, 2012

Art Day with Homeschool Advantages

I love art days!  I still find it very theraputic to color pictures with my children.  I also love watching my girls create their own art pieces.  I never was very crafty as a child.  I laugh at what I used to think were good drawings from my childhood.  My children have far exceeded me!  I think there are some basic reasons why, and they are directly related to homeschooling.

Variety is the spice of art class!
First of all, my only experience, other than coloring at home, was all done at school.  School projects tend to be cookie cutter projects where everyone uses the same materials and ends up with a product very similar to everyone elses.  This kind of art is not bad, and even in homeschool I tend to teach this way myself.  I am just saying that at school students were not allowed much room for personal preferences. 

We have an "art dresser" where a multitude of art supplies, from pastels, paints, play dough, foam, tissue paper, glitter, yarn and so on are stored. The girls know that during free time they are allowed to use these materials as long as they stay at the school table and clean up their own mess.  So many days I will find various  art pieces in stages of process. This allows the children to practice using different mediums and their imaginations.

Non-judgmental appreciation of anyone's work!
I don't think that teachers in school intended for anyone's work to be ridiculed, but kids are kids.  Unless it is made very clear and enforced children naturally compare to find the "best" one.  This leaves the rest of us who aren't very crafty to feel deflated when we look at the other  people's work and hear unkind comments.  This then leads to less effort in the future, for we have now learned that we are not very artistic.  I have tried to teach the girls that art comes in many different forms and shouldn't really be compared.  We relate it to food tastes.  Just because Daddy hates peas doesn't mean that the girls should not like peas, and just because Mommy loves peas doesn't mean all the girls have to love them too.  We can each share our personal tastes.  We have studied a variety of paintings by famous artists.  I have shared with the girls that I don't care for Jackson Pollock, but obviously many people did.  I like more realistic paintings, but can still appreciate a Van Gogh or Monet.  So the girls are learning to enjoy art more for the experience than attaining some level of praise.  This has made art less scary for those who are sensitive to criticism.  And really, who isn't?

Opportunity increases interest!
I remember the few art projects that we did in elementary and middle school.  I remember them because they were very rare.  It is understandable, if you have 20 students!  I look at the mess we create in twenty short minutes with just 4 little girls!  Art is messy and time consuming and this significantly decreases its likelihood of being done in a school setting.  At home we have more time for clean up. Also we can postpone clean up if we want to leave a project out for a few days.  This is not typically possible in a school setting because you either have other subjects that must be covered in the area so you have to clean up, or you have other kids coming in and it would be to chaotic to leave out every classes' works in progress.

Now I certainly hope you aren't looking for some master pieces of art here as I share our creations from today's art time.  I am not claiming that homeschool art makes master pieces.  Only that each of my girls reaches a higher level of creativity and happiness than I ever did in art class.  I am so glad to share this time with them and see their creativity.  Hannah, being the oldest and most naturally inclined to all things artsy, is a natural leader in our art class.  The younger girls often look to her work for inspiration and technique.  But they also go out on their own as you will see by the samples today.

We are using an Evan-Moor art book that my dear friend, Maralena, gave me years ago. 

We have done it each year in Kindergarten so this is our third time using it.  The big girls don't have to participate but they always do.  Hannah even said today, "Mom, I feel like I am back in elementary school again!"  This from a 6th grader who has always schooled at home! LOL  For two weeks we have been studying the habits and characterisitics of caterpillars.  Last week Lydia drew a caterpillar in her art/nature journal. 

Here is one of all the girls and their creations after we had cleaned up! :)

Here is Hannah's creation. 

Hannah added the legs holding the leaf to her caterpillar.  We used an egg carton cut apart for the bodies.  The girls had pipe cleaners, pom poms, markers, googly eyes and glitter among their selection for decorating.

Here is Sarah's creation.

Sarah was the first to cut the pipe cleaners into small little spikes for the body of her caterpillar.  We had the book out for inspiration and there are many caterpillars with spikes on their bodies.  There is even one that appears to be furry with fake spidery legs as one of its defenses!

Here is Mary's creation.

I love the big pom-pom tail on this one!  So cute!  I didn't really see one like this in the book, but isn't it great that she used her imagination and had fun!  She used markers to color along the side which you can't really see here.  I love the pipe cleaner smile! :)  Mary had used a popsicle and piece of paper to make a sign to be held by the caterpillar.  It said, "I love caterpillars!"  I am not sure why she didn't want it in the picture though.

Lydia made this one especially for Memaw!
Lydia loved the pom pom idea and I tried to show the little pom poms she put between the body joints!  She used quite a bit of silver glitter, but it isn't showing up well in my photo.  She also loved to tell me about using patterns in her design. 

I wish I had pictures of the caterpillars from years past.  I have learned so much about letting them do their own work and giving them more materials for working!  But they were still cute to me then!:)

Now you may be thinking, "Wait, these all look the same to me."  Yes, they are all made with similar materials, but only because the girls tended to copy from each others good ideas.  The point is to give them the most options and then let them do what they like.

So if you homeschool and art isn't part of your week, because you were like me and didn't think art was your thing: Give it a try this way!  Your kids will thank you for it!

If your children go to another place for school, even if they have art classes:  Provide the material and time for kids to explore at home too.  Your kids will thank you for it!

With All My Heart~


  1. Oh! How fun! :). I love art days :). They are some of the funnest parts about being homeschooled :D
    Love you Mrs. Eva :))

  2. Art class is so much better with your mom/teacher, but we have fun! I miss those classes!
    Love you too! And I am enjoying your photos! Keep shooting!


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