Teaching Art When Crayon is My Best Medium
- Wednesday, July 02, 2008
• Architecture: We’ve tied a basic study of architecture into our other subjects. We’ve used a K’Nex toy curriculum to study bridges as a physical science project. We looked at Greek architectural features in downtown libraries, courthouses, and government offices while studying ancient Greece. (It was fun to hear my little ones pronounce—and even differentiate—details like Corinthian, Ionic, and Doric columns.) Victorian-style buildings, often found in nearby restored urban neighborhoods, can be linked to an Anne of Green Gables literature unit.
• Technical Drawing and Drafting: These are both closely related to architecture. We realized that our oldest son is very right-brained and artistic, and I knew I couldn’t develop his gifts on my own, so I turned to the books in the Complete-A-Sketch series by Melvin Peterman of Insight Technical Education. With subtitles like “Orthographic,” “Isometric,” and “Perspective,” they sound very intimidating. However, I’ve found them very easy to use for an age range as broad as 5 to 13 years old. The author says that “The unique approach of Complete-A-Sketch allowed me to teach my children to draw what they see....(and) to clearly present their ideas to others.” I agree with his assessment. My children have learned to use a straight edge tool and create complicated renderings, and it has given them confidence and techniques to use in their own designs.
• Graphic Design and Animation: A couple of years ago, my son decided that he wants to become an animator when he grows up. Two years later, it is still his desire, and together with my husband, he is actively pursuing that interest. They have attended an animation seminar at a children’s museum and emailed questions to a current animator on the staff of the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival. Now they are learning the computer programming behind current animation techniques, using a software program called MicroWorlds and a curriculum called Computer Science Pure and Simple. For Christmas, my son received a clay set complete with animal armatures (skeleton-like models) to fashion into suitable characters for his future movies. He understands that sketching, drawing, and a basic grasp of movement are all the bases of animation. Similarly, my oldest daughter shows an interest in graphic design, the visual representation of an idea or message. While she may not call it graphic design, we’ve found it accessible for her to pursue at home these days. Making brochures, newsletters, posters, and homemade greeting cards are all easy for her with computer software like PrintMaster.
• Interior Decorating: When we needed our children to switch bedrooms in our home for space reasons, my daughters got a chance to redecorate their new room. We gathered fabric swatches, paint chips, and magazine clippings the way an interior designer would put together a storyboard. We hauled the new pillow shams into countless stores, looking for bulletin boards, lampshades, and throw pillows to match. It was a great opportunity for them to learn homemaking skills like keeping a budget and creating a cozy home, as well as a great art lesson in colors, texture, and using 3-D space for furniture arrangement.
• Fiber Arts: Not as prevalent as in past generations, sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidery or cross-stitch, tying fleece blankets, and making latch hook rugs are arts in which many homeschoolers still excel. We’ve emphasized one or another of these occasionally, often after a friend or grandparent has given my children a kit (complete with supplies and instructions) as a gift. The finished products are objects in which my children take great pride, and they love to give them as gifts.
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