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Enhance Your Curriculum with Art!

  • Carolyn Flanagan
  • Published Mar 22, 2004
Enhance Your Curriculum with Art!

Imagine that your young child is a future Monet or Charles Schulz. How would you discover his or her interest in art, or their aptitude for it, if you weren't teaching art as a subject? It could be rather difficult.

Even if your little one is not in the gifted category, art is a medium for his or her creativity, expression, and delight. Learning to make a colorful drawing, a comic poster, or a clay creation can enrich your child's school day. The good news is that there is a lot of material available to help you become an art teacher.

I'm not an art major or a skilled artist. I'm simply someone who has always had an interest in art, decorating, and crafts. To me, buying art supplies and books is the best part of planning a new school year! Here are some of the ideas and materials that have aided me in teaching art to my children, and in my homeschool co-op classes.

To begin with, very young children should be encouraged to draw, regardless of the subject. It's good exercise for their hand-eye coordination. The use of colorful crayons or markers could be introduced around the age of two or three. By the time the child is about five, coloring within the lines of a coloring book picture should be encouraged. While your children are in the pre-school years, expose them to many little arts and crafts projects including the use of such things as colorful pipe cleaners, Play Doh, watercolor paints and finger paints. Between the ages of four and six, depending upon your child's interest, more formalized art classes can begin.

A good practice is for Mom to have a chalkboard, white board, or a large piece of paper available to show the student one stroke at a time what should be done. In the simplest drawing of a fish, the teacher would draw the first line and have the student do the same; then draw the second line with the student copying, and then the third line, adding a small dot for the eye.

The idea of drawing one stroke at a time is to help the child see how to build the drawing step by step. Don't focus on perfection. The goal is to enjoy what you're doing and to model that enjoyment for your offspring. Praise the efforts of your youth, and give him or her a lot of encouragement. You want to teach simple techniques and to help your child savor the experience.

Many books are available for different grade levels. A series for primary grades that I discovered at our state homeschool convention is: Kids Can Draw: Animals of the World; Kids Can Draw: The Circus; and Kids Can Draw: The Ocean all by Philippe Legendre. The technique I described above can be used very successfully with these books. There are other books in this series that may cover themes that you would like better than the ones named above.

For the middle grades, I have used and would recommend these books:

  • Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes
  • Drawing Textbook by Bruce Mc Intyre
  • Drawing Horses by Sandy Rabinowitz
  • Drawing Things with Wings published by Watermill Press, NJ


When my son was in the middle grades, he thoroughly appreciated Bruce McIntyre's Drawing Textbook In completing the exercises in the book, he learned the seven principles of drawing: surface, size, surface lines, overlapping, shading, density, and foreshortening. He was challenged to learn to draw items in different positions and with correct alignment. This wonderful little book was the most economical of all of our art textbooks, but it improved my son's skills drastically.

For junior to senior high school, we have purchased and used:

  • Lessons in Perspective Drawing by Lester E. Showalter, Rod & Staff Publishers
  • Art Course for High School, Alpha Omega Publications
  • The Big Book of Cartooning (in Christian Perspective), Book 1, by Vic Lockman
  • Visual Manna's Master Drawing by Rich & Sharon Jeffus

My oldest daughter did very well using Visual Manna's Master Drawing book, and my son enjoyed the Alpha Omega Art Course for High School. We've used all of these books and many others. Each one has enhanced our art curriculum.

Barry Stebbings is a Christian artist who has spoken at our state homeschool convention, and he has a wide array of books available for every grade level. When my girls were younger, they used his Lamb's Book of Life art journal, and two of his other products. Mr. Stebbings' company is: How Great Thou Art, P. O. Box 48, McFarlan, NC 28102, phone 1-800-982-3729 or go to

As you continue to teach art once a week through the school calendar, your child's interest and skill in artistic endeavors will grow. Your child will have been exposed to using different materials and mediums, thereby broadening his or her abilities. There will be many projects that he or she will initiate independently. Then your offspring will happily display his or her handiwork to everyone in the family. They will no longer wonder what to present at the homeschool support group's project fair night! An art display always draws a lot of interest.

When you attend your state homeschool convention, look at the art books that are on sale. If your state doesn't have an annual convention, check with local art supply or craft stores. If your homeschool support group has a curriculum night, ask the other moms where they buy their art books and supplies.

When perusing art books, look for a topic or a style that your young artist prefers. Then go ahead and invest in it. The best reward is hearing your daughter say: "Oh, Mom, I LOVE this book! I can't wait to start working on this."

Carolyn and her husband, Roger, have been married for 28 years and have four children. They live in a suburb of Chicago, IL. They have been homeschooling for more than ten years. Carolyn serves as the publisher and editor of their homeschool support group's newsletter, as well as the group treasurer. The Flanagan children are 21, 18, 15, and 12 years of age.

This article was originally published in the Mar/Apr '04 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, visit