Big Sis has always had a love of art, from the basic yet immersive finger painting to the hands off tours of art museums and galleries. That spark of interest in art has grown to quite a flame in the last couple of months. She has really zoned in on wanting to develop and expand her art skills and can be found working on something expressive several times a day. She was intrigued by our recent visit to a small in-home art studio and shop, where she got to see an older artist in the middle of his art project - outlining and painting a peony blossom. She also found it fascinating that there were several hobby artists with sketch books sitting in the Golden Gate Park's Conservatory of Flowers during our trip there. Following their lead, she's begun carrying a pocket sized sketch book that she can use whenever inspiration strikes, just as they do.
I want to be able to support her passion for art, but I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that the extent of my own training and knowledge in this subject stops just past stick figures. This homeschool mama needs a little support (or a whole lot of assistance) here. Enter ArtAchieve's Entire Level I... it was perfect timing to be able to use and review these online art lessons, giving Big Sis (and I) some great new skills and giving me joy in knowing that she was getting instruction in a subject she loves!
About ArtAchieve's Entire Level I
ArtAchieve offers online art lessons for kids (though there really isn't an age limit to learning art skills, in my opinion). Users receive a 1-year license to access the lessons of their choice. These can be done individually or as a complete set. We received access to the Entire Level I, which consists of 12 lessons. You can view the first two lessons (with lesson one being broken down into 4 separate sub-lessons) for free at the ArtAchieve website.
Most lessons have a printable activity or warm-up, powerpoint slides, and a video. Students are guided through creating a work or art, step-by-step, as well as given various tips and ideas along the way. While there is a specific creation that is the goal of the lesson, the student is encouraged to make it their own and add their own flare, style, and background to the creation.
They do a great job listing supplies that are used throughout the program and making it easy to plan ahead to be sure you're equipped. With Level I, there aren't a lot of unusual or expensive necessities. Most things can be found already at home (like markers or water color paints) or easily acquired , with a few exceptions (in our experience). If you're curious what kind of supplies you might need for these lessons, you can visit their supplies page for details.
A unique aspect of ArtAchieve is that they have integrated "cross-curricular connections" into each lesson, which include brief information about the subject during the art lessons, along with plenty of suggestions, links, and ideas on how to expand on and further dig into the topic while connecting it to other academic areas, such as language arts (literature, writing), history, geography, music, social studies, science, etc. Not every art lesson is connected to all these areas, but there is plenty of ideas in different areas for each one.
Big Sis used ArtAchieve an average of once a week and we were able to continue using the program even over the course of some time away from home! We appreciated that the supplies needed were simple and the lessons were accessible online, making it possible for us to "bring" art lessons with us wherever we were.
The first lessons (about drawing lines, shading, and introduction to painting) were not interesting to Big Sis, but once we got into drawing animals, she was hooked. She was quite proud of her Czech Cat... so much so that she made another one (this time without the lesson in front of her) to give as a gift to her aunt.
Big Sis was able to go through the lessons entirely unaided by me, which I found super helpful since it allowed her to dive into art while freeing me to tend to baby or other tasks. Yet sometimes, I sat alongside her and watched, even picking up a marker and learning a thing or two myself!
At first, Big Sis usually used the video option for her lessons. We did notice a slight difference or discrepancy in one, where the powerpoint suggested the use of acrylic paint pens to decorate the artwork, while the video only talked about using washable markers. This was such a minor and overall insignificant issue, but I thought I'd mention it here because it may be worth going through both to get the full benefit. We found that watching the video once through gave a good understanding of what to do and then using the powerpoint to get reminders was a nice approach. We also did it the other way around, using the powerpoint to skim over what to expect and then following along with the video as a guide, pausing as needed, to complete the art project.
I very much appreciate that cross-curricular connections have been made to other academic areas under the same topic. You can see an example of this under the information about lesson six, the Chinese Dragon. These suggestions are not required for the program, but they were particularly helpful when my daughter wants to know more about the subject of her creation but we don't have time to spend researching more about it on our own... this way there are links and activity ideas ready and waiting for us!
The lessons in Level I usually utilized a black permanent marker. At first I didn't like this at all. I was afraid of it soaking through or my daughter not paying attention to what she was doing and getting it on something she shouldn't. She is a kid, after all, and washable markers (also used often in this level of the program) were invented for a reason. BUT I soon discovered the value of the black marker (it is explained in the FAQs on their website) and we simply prepped her work area to handle it. We never had any issues and Big Sis learned how to keep moving forward with her art, that mistakes aren't always mistakes, and that art is a process that is not always perfect.
When I asked Big Sis what she thought of ArtAchieve's Entire Level I, she told me she loved it and that she was always excited to do the next lesson. She said that it taught her about the different kinds of lines, which helped her find out what her favorite kind were (curvy, wavy lines). She also told me that she learned that it's okay not to like her art at first but to finish it anyway because she might like it later, once she's done (and she did this a few times).
If you want to read more about what other families think about ArtAchieve, including their take on some of the other, more advanced, levels offered (II, III, and IV), you can click on the Homeschool Review Crew banner link below. If you want to find out more about ArtAchieve, check out the website and/or social media pages: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+!
I'm a homeschooling mom of two, enjoying our time in Hawaii and hoping to share some of that experience with you, including ideas, reviews, resources, and information.