If you asked my kids what their favorite “school subject” was – hands down they would both tell you it’s art. Art is always the first requested activity if they have free choice during our school day; art is also my least favorite subject to plan, teach or participate in. I am NOT an artist. Although I like to think of myself as “creative”, I don’t enjoy visual arts nearly as much as my girls do. There are lots of homeschool art curriculum out there but many require a lot of time and expensive supplies.
Why include art throughout our homeschool day?
Since it’s their most requested activity I make an effort to include some type of art into each homeschool day to satisfy their desire to create. One thing I’ve found is when I am able to tie the art project into one of our other subjects like history, geography or science, they tend to retain the academic lesson much more. Learn about Abraham Lincoln? Create a portait of Honest Abe while discussing notable achievements. Diving into a unit study on dolphins? Paint a dolphin canvas while learning the differences between the bottlenose dolphin and the black dolphin. Studying the exploration of North America and take up an interest in Vikings? Create and label the parts of a Viking ship while listening to Who Was Leif Erikson? being read aloud. Homeschool art doesn’t have to be complicated and completely separate from the rest of your studies.
While it may not seem like a big deal, that hands on stimulation is helping to connect them with the topic at hand. It works the same way math manipulatives help kids grasp, remember and apply mathematical concepts. Think of it as a “do it, know it” kinda thing.
Where do I find art to pair with our lessons?
This is where I used to struggle with incorporating art into our daily routine. I found myself spending way too much time trying to locate easy, quick and independent art projects that corresponded with our daily lessons. Trust me, you do not want to spend all of your time trying to locate special art supplies and following 49 minutes of specific instructions only to have the kids not happy with how their project turned out or lose their interest.
I quickly found a few resources that have made it extremely easy to pair art with whatever topic we are currently studying:
Drawing Tutorials on YouTube
We started with this YouTube channel which provides very basic drawing tutorials for animals, household items and more. These are great for Pre-K age until about 1st or 2nd grade. By doing a quick search, you can find hundreds of other kid friendly how-to-draw tutorials. Bookmark any channels that work well so you can revisit them when you are looking for more instruction.
Although mapping may not seem like a form of art, it’s one of the most productive art projects that we complete. By drawing, labeling, and coloring maps of states and countries the girls are then prompted to ask more questions and dive deeper into our studies. This article on how to create salt dough maps is great for those times that you have a little more prep time and energy. The salt dough maps are a bit more time consuming but our maps have turned out great and the girls learn so much more about the physical characteristics of the country or state.
How To Draw Books
We own lots of “how to draw” books that we have picked up over the years. We usually will take one of these along with us on our nature walks in case we decide we want to sketch something we find on our adventure.
Here are some of our current favorite “how to draw” books:
- How to Draw Cute Stuff
- You Can Draw Cartoon Animals
- Young Artists Draw Manga
- Figure It Out! Simple Lessons, Quick Results
There are lots of different art boxes and subscriptions out there. Our favorite (and the easiest way) to include art in our homeschool day is any of the lessons from You ARE an Artist at ChalkPastel.com. These simple, easy to follow video tutorials with Nana show the kids how to create beautiful chalk pastel artworks in about 20 minutes. I’ve found so many perfect lessons that pair with our history, science, literature and even math lessons!
Here are just some of the categories of lessons available to members:
- US Presidents
- Maps & Geography
- World Landmarks
- Famous Artists
- Animals, Plants, Landscapes
What art supplies do I need on hand?
We keep some basic supplies on hand at all times. These aren’t expensive or hard to find and I tend to pick them up when they go on sale throughout the year.
- 12″ x 18″ Construction paper – we cut it in half for regular projects but like to have the bigger size just in case
- Ticonderoga pencils – the only type of pencils we are allowed in our house 🙂 they are the easiest to sharpen and just a high quality pencil
- Watercolor paper – can be used for multiple types of projects
- Chalk pastels – the more colors, the better!
- Watercolor paints – again, the more colors, the better
- Sketch book – each girl has their own so they can keep all their drawings
- Colored pencils – these are high quality and last longer for us
What do I do with all the art once it’s complete?
If you start including art into your everyday homeschool lineup you’re going to end up with a lot of art. I know how hard it is to pick and choose which pieces of art you hang onto and put into your kid’s “memory” boxes. After completing dozens and dozens of projects, I realized we needed to have some sort of system for sorting and storing our art projects.
Now, once a piece of art is finished we display it on our cork board in the homeschool room for a few days. This is great for topics that may be a little longer so we can refer back to our artworks as we continue to study. When we are ready to move onto something new, I ask the girls if it’s a “keeper” or if we can move on from this piece. The keepers go into their school boxes. The ones we don’t feel we need to keep get a quick snapshot taken and are recycled. Every few months I have enough snapshots of previous artwork that I can have a chatbook created. This is an easy way to show the girls that their hardwork will continue to be admired but not in it’s original form.
I hope I’ve given you some ideas on how you can easily incorporate art into your homeschool routine. I think it’s important to remember that art doesn’t have to extravagant or complicated. Pairing art with your current study topics is a great way to reinforce the topics and allow the kids to dive deeper into each subject. You don’t have to pair each lesson with art either. Just having free drawing or painting time is a great way to let the creativity flow!