This week I finally sat down to do some planning for our upcoming school year. First up: Artist Studies! We started doing different artist studies last year as a way to learn about different artist and different types of art. Each month we learn about someone new and read books and watch DVDs and try out some projects ourselves. This has been something all of us had fun with–from ages 3 to 36—so I thought I’d share how I go about finding ideas and information for our artist studies!
Before you can start looking for activities and books, you’ve got to decide who you’re going to study—and it’s all up to you! For our first year I stuck with fairly famous artists that my son had heard of before or would be likely to encounter in books, ads, etc. We started off with Picasso because there are so many great projects for kids to do and also because our local museum has two of his works on display. If you can see the artist’s work up close, it’s always fun! Think about your child’s personality and if they’re older, ask them who they would like to learn about. The point is to learn to enjoy art, so listen to their opinions!
Once I have the list of artists we’re going to study, I head online to the library catalog. We have really enjoyed the Getting to Know…. books about the different artists—so much so that this year I went ahead and purchased one for each artist. There are so many great books, though, you can’t buy them all—unfortunately! I check our catalog for DVDs of the Getting to Know… series because my kids love to watch them, too! I also look for any of the Laurence Anholt books. We also used several of the Dropping in On… DVDs last year and I was glad to see they had some for a couple of the artists we’ll learn about this year. Of course a search of the entire catalog will give you many choices, but if you limit your search to children’s books, you will probably be surprised at some of the great books out there that your children will really enjoy!
After I’ve purchased and requested books, I start looking for activities. I have two great resource books I’ve used over and over again: Discovering Great Artists and Great American Artists for Kids, both by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Kim Solga. These books have some biographical information for each artist and activities for kids in the style of the artist. All the supplies you’ll need are listed and step by step instructions are given for those of use who need a little hand holding! I also like that for each project, the authors rank the amount of skill a child will need as well as the amount of time it will take the adult to prep everything. It’s disappointing for a child to take on a project that ends up being way above his skill level or to run out of time before you even get started, so these rankings are very helpful!
The next place I go is the internet. I always check Art Projects for Kids to see if there are any projects geared toward the artists. She has very easy to follow instructions and great ideas. We’ve enjoyed every project we’ve tried from the site! I also check Pinterest and pin ideas as I find them so I can remember them later—having the picture of the project right there is so helpful if you are visual like me! Creative With Kids and Red Ted Art both recently had some great posts on artist activities that I found through Pinterest. There are so many amazing ideas out there that you can easily find something to fit your child’s abilities and your comfort zone, too!
If you’re not up for coming up with your own plans, there are ready to use lessons available—for free! Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler has The World’s Greatest Artists Unit Study free to download on her blog. We have used parts of it and I think she has done a wonderful job on this! Of course there are lessons you can buy, too. The point is, don’t let your worry over getting it right or including everything stop you from learning about artists and having a great time with your kids! Happy planning!