Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Spears Art Studio K-8

Question: What do you call a homeschool-compatible, comprehensive art curriculum that is taught with a Biblical worldview?
Answer: A rare find!

Diane Spears has put together just such a program called Spears Art Studio K-8 Christian Art Curriculum. It is contained on one CD-ROM on which is a teacher's manual that includes all the necessary information, instruction, and project details to teach children from Kindergarten all the way through grade 8 in the subject of fine arts.
The program comes with an invaluable introduction guide to start with. It answers basic questions like: What is art? and Why does art exist? It goes on to cover the main components of art which include elements of art (such things as line, shape, and color) and principles of design (such things as repetition, contrast, and balance). There are suggestions for how to present the lessons which use different types of materials and different types of media. Steps on how to analyze and critique artwork are also covered. Finally, there is even a researched article (authored by Diane) about the benefits of incorporating fine arts in your child's studies.
The art instruction part of the program is broken down by grade level (K-8). Within each grade level, the program is divided by month (Sept-May). And finally, within each month the instruction is further divided into 4 weekly lessons. A scope and sequence table is provided for each grade level to make quick work of getting an overview of monthly activities. Each weekly lesson begins with a theme objective and theme scripture. New vocabulary is introduced, any necessary teacher preparation is listed, lesson focus is reviewed, and a project material list is provided as well as step-by-step activity instructions. Art history is presented for certain lessons with suggested images (paintings, photographs, drawings) to acquire from other sources (such as the library or the Internet).

My final verdict: This Biblically based art program to teach from home is a delightful find! I can see how this comprehensive curriculum might be a little intimidating at first glance because it is so thorough, but do not be discouraged! After a few days of familiarizing myself with the provided materials I could teach the lessons with confidence. I did find it necessary to print out a lot of the material on the CD-ROM (I prefer to page through paper rather than read from a computer screen) but found it very worth having a hard copy (for those not wishing to put their printer and ink cartridges through the works, Diane has made a B&W, 3-ring bound hard copy available for purchase). Spears Art Studio covers a wide and interesting variety of projects using readily obtained materials: self-portrait, sewing cards, still life, collage, and weaving, and I am thrilled that the author of this program supports the idea of using art in all its forms to honor God.
It is a great course to use to give your children a discerning eye when making or evaluating art. Diane writes, "...high standards in art require three criteria: excellence in the execution of the art principles, excellence in the use of the materials, and excellence in the expression of a morally acceptable idea." I agree and wish for my children to develop all three skills. I believe Spears Art Studio K-8 Art Curriculum to be a worthy component for our family's homeschool, and I am so glad to have it!
For $39.95 (that includes shipping!) it's a tremendous deal as you get all the curriculum you'll need to teach art well into junior high. See an overview of the K-8 art themes listed by week, and be sure to check out the Spears Art Studio website where Diane has posted free art lessons from the K-8 course. Other products are available including a high school art curriculum, a calligraphy course, and a variety of children's literature comprehension guides.

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