You may remember our review of ArtAchieve last year, and how the children enjoyed it; so we were pleased to be given the opportunity to review ArtAchieve‘s Entire Level III this year. This year we are doing a lot of travel and culture on our blog and at home (of course), and this course fits perfectly into the mix.In fact, the children got started right away as soon as they were given access to the projects.
The first of the 13 art projects that caught Tristan’s eye was Lesson 7: The Wood Carving From Kenya. He chose Kenya as it is the country featured in their book, Mama Panya’s Pancakes. The children watched a video of the Masai dance, they learned some science about why the sky is blue during the day and red during sunset, and they enjoyed going through some of the Kenyan proverbs; they give one something to think about…..oh, didn’t I say that this was supposed to be an art program? But they’ve been learning science and cultural traditions so far, not art….
Yes indeed, this is an art program; and more. You can tell that John Hofland and his wife homeschooled their children; he’s adding in additional learning into his art lessons! You have to love that! What a great way to immerse children into culture and learn about the world around them. Probably the thing that drew me most to this program was the use of art from around the world.
The objects children will learn to draw in Level III are:
- The Hawaiian Tree Frog
- The African Crowned Crane
- The Chinese Horse: Drawing The Horse’s Head
- The Face From The Gambia
- The Pacific Northwest Totem Pole
- The Eastern European Firebird
- The Wood Carving From Kenya
- Kandinsky and Color Mixing
- The Nine-Banded Armadillo
- The Russian Matryoshka
- The Canada Goose
- DaVinci’s Clock
- Let’s Make a Movie!
…and here’s a picture of that finished Wood Carving from Kenya!
ArtAchieve is aimed at children and it has lots of good advice. The closest thing I can compare it to is Mr. Dressup’s craft projects (I may be dating myself here); he’s calm, supportive, and sets up a mood for creativity.
This program is done via online videos or Powerpoint slides. Having a choice is nice; my children prefer to follow along on the videos, pausing when needed to work on their own art. There is a warm-up printable for most of the projects as well. To complete the projects you will need a few supplies; we found we have them already on hand; water colour paper, pencils, liquid tempera paints, acrylic paints, and felt-tip markers are the main items.
The techniques learned in level II have been applied to various projects the kids have worked on outside of ArtAchieve over the past year:
- Planning Dots
- Using your fingers to gauge sizes
- Using a grid to draw
- How to get their own supplies and put them away after (this is a great class when the the teacher aka Mom isn’t feeling so well).
At the start of each class, John explains a little about the project they will do together, then have the kids warm up by rubbing their hands together and placing them over their eyes. There is usually a warm-up starter to work on to get the hands and eyes working together by drawing the separate elements of the main item broken down into random pieces. By just copying these small elements, children gain the confidence that they WILL be able to do the main picture.
Oh, I remember a year ago…even a couple of months ago, my children would be so upset if they didn’t think their picture was good enough after just a few minutes. However, John often reminds children that there are no mistakes when creating, and to not judge their own work until the piece has been completed. Now, finally, my children are staying calm and learning that what they may see as a disaster at the time, can be worked into something great along the way. (Thank you, John; I often remind my children of this during other lessons, too).
John likes children to use their own creativity as well for each picture. He guides them along to make the main object (these are objects from places he’s traveled to himself), and then gives a couple of suggestions or examples of ways they can personalise their pictures. My children have run with this over the past year as they are gaining confidence and becoming more creative. They love to add their own ideas to the pictures…though not quite always in the right context. Such as having a bird feeder for the Canada Geese. This was one of their favourite pictures to work on….they are half Canadian, after all! This picture is a little different as it’s done in layers, like decoupage. As you can see, both pictures have the same three geese, but each picture have completely different perspectives, I love that!
Because we started last year with Level II, I wasn’t sure whether to move back down to Level I or up to Level III. We decided on Level III; the projects are said to be for grades 4 and 5 and up. Tristan is between grade 3 & 4, and Kallista grades 1 & 2. Kallista is finding these projects more of a challenge, which is completely understandable. Tristan is doing okay, but he tends to take much longer to work on the projects than one would think. These geese took the kids over a week to complete; working on them daily. But they do have fun painting.
Children can get very focused when they are in the art zone. This can be a very good thing. As I mentioned earlier, this class is great if Mom isn’t feeling well. I know they can happily spend an afternoon working away and learning. About art, but also learning about cultures. Tristan really loved the Kenyan music and listened to it for hours! Seeing how people live around the world can be very interesting for people of all ages. And if you happen to have your year-end business reports and taxes to work on; the kids can be in one room and you in the other all working away (I’d say happily….but that would be a lie – the kids are happy, but at least Mom isn’t distracted toooo often).
The lessons can be purchased on a year’s licence as an entire grade, or individually. Keep this in mind for those school breaks when the kids say, “I’m bored.” Purchase a lesson and the kids can enjoy the novelty of something new and gain some wonderful knowledge at the same time!
We’ve all been happy with this course. The children enjoy creating artwork while I’m happy that they’re learning great life lessons and being introduced to the world’s wonderful cultures. And after a year, my children are still enjoying this program, which speaks for itself…They’re already talking about their next project: The Hawaiian Frog as they know Nana loves frogs! Hop to it, and check out a free project for yourself!
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