I have no talent or affection for kiddo crafts whatsoever. Not even a little. When I was pregnant with our first, my husband and I daydreamed about which things we looked forward to doing with and teaching the kids. “You get the crafts,” I said. But I do love art all things art (with an especially soft spot for metal sculpture). And my mom, grandmother, and aunt have all been talented painters.
We use a classical approach to curriculum, with some Charlotte Mason thrown in. And both of those educational styles suggest putting great art in front of little eyes early on. So when it comes to art, there is the doing and then there is the appreciating. And at some point, for a great classical education, you’ve got to dive into both.
So what do you do when you have graduated from the popsicle stick and pom-pom stage? Here are a few of the things we do.
Teach Them About Colors
I have always been fascinated by light and color. Maybe that’s why I love impressionist paintings. So when I had to take an art class in college, I chose color theory. And I loved it! So one of the things I do with my children, basically as soon as they can hold a paintbrush, is teach them about color.
I love to buy them tempera paints in just the primary colors, black, and white. Then teach them how to mix any other color they want from those. I love to watch them experiment with mixing–even if they do all eventually become olive-brown-throw-up color. But they get better with time. My six-year-old is now really good at making pretty much any color she wants.
I had a friend once who was obsessive about not letting her kids mix the Play-Doh colors. And, hey, I am Type A. So I have got my own things like that for sure. But not the color mixing thing. My philosophy is mix away! They will learn a lot from that.
Use The Electronics To Help You
YouTube has a multitude of videos that teach drawing. Also, check out the websites of some of the world’s most famous museums for virtual tours of their collections without leaving your sofa. And Google “art documentaries on Netflix.” There are some great ones!
We love to watch Bob Ross on Netflix. He is as entertaining as he is informative. Half the time we are wondering what the heck he’s doing there with that black line he just made down the middle of his beautiful canvas. Then BAM! Happy little tree. He is talented. And every time we watch it inspires my girls to go get out their paint.
And, lastly, my favorite artsy thing to do with my girls is . . .
Appreciate The Masters
I knew I wanted to do picture and/or artist studies as part of our classical curriculum. And for first grade I tried putting them together myself. But I am so happy that I have found Masterpiece Society for second grade because it is all done for me. We just did a study on Claude Monet this week. My second grader loved it–especially trying to mimic Monet’s water lilies with her watercolors! And even my preschooler joined in with her own coloring page.
This curriculum works seamlessly with our classical approach to learning. There are interesting facts about the artist to use for memory work. It includes quotes from the artist that I felt gave a lot more insight into his personality and work. And the quotes were perfect for copywork to accompany the lesson. (There were journaling pages for narration or copywork included) And it gave a great lesson on impressionism as a whole.
Plus, it is so versatile for multiple ages. The are designed for upper elementary through middle school years. But the creator, Alisha, says it can be adapted for much younger up to teens. And I totally agree! Like I said, even my preschooler loved coloring along with the lesson. And I enjoyed it and learned from it as well.
An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing.
So my strategy for art beyond the popsicle sticks is:
- lots of free time experimenting with color and different mediums,
- a variety of inspiration from sources as diverse as documentaries about famous photographers to virtual tours of blown glass exhibits, and
- a fabulous art appreciation course to expose them to famous masters.
How do you do art at home? Is there a particular artist or genre that you or your children gravitate to? Let me know. I love to hear your ideas! And don’t forget to check out my Art & Music board on Pinterest for more ideas and subscribe to never miss an update.