Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: art
Showing posts with label art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art. Show all posts

Monday, May 16, 2016

A review of 'Famous Artists: Renaissance to Surrealism'

One of my most memorable experiences as a homeschooler was taking my children to see the traveling exhibit of Claude Monet's water lilies triptych at the St. Louis Art Museum. These three massive paintings, each canvas 7 feet tall and 14 feet wide, are owned by three separate museums in the United States. They had not been shown together since the 1970s, and the chance to see them as they were meant to be was an opportunity we could not miss.

Claude Monet's Water Lilies from the St. Louis Art Museum

I was awestruck, standing in a darkened room with a limited number of guests, silently taking in the beauty of an artist's work I had only seen in pictures and prints. I took my glasses off and looked at the canvases as Monet would have looked at them, or close to it, as my vision is not quite as impaired as his was when he painted these masterpieces in his old age. As the colors converged in my blurry sight, the images took on new life and I could almost believe that if I reached out my hand, it would permeate the water. I felt deeply connected to the art and the man.

Not everyone has a chance to see incredible art up close and have this sort of moving experience. I know, growing up in rural Oklahoma, my opportunities were limited, at least as compared to those who live close enough to stop in at a major museum whenever they'd like.

Maybe that's why I am so impressed with the Famous Artists Volume 1 online unit study by Beth Napoli of Techie Homeschool Mom. This interactive unit study introduces kids to artists like Monet, daVinci and Picasso, whose work they probably already recognize, but also includes artists like Klimt and Dali to introduce forms which may be less familiar.

Gustav Klimt's Kirche in Cassone

With several artists to study, each representing a different and unique style, students can become familiar with a wide range of artistic movements, spanning more than four centuries. And the interactive elements in the study will help kids feel more in touch with the art than just flipping through the pages of a book.

Your students may not have a chance to see the work of these great masters in a museum any time soon, but they are sure to get excited about building and sharing their own virtual gallery. Having completed a unit study like this one, your whole family will have a more complete appreciation of the experience the next time you get to visit a museum in person.

Look for the Famous Artists Volume 1 online unit study on the Techie Homeschool Mom blog.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

An unexpected geography lesson

Last week, when my 7-year-old daughter came running up to me with a rock from my mom's garden, exclaiming, "It looks just like that state! The green one!" I knew exactly what she meant.

"Nevada!" I answered, with equal enthusiasm. "It looks like Nevada!" And it did.

We'd been playing Scrambled States of America (affiliate link), one of my kids' favorite games, a few nights before, and when my daughter spotted this particular rock, she remembered the shape of the state it resembled and the discovery excited us both.

Of course I have an atlas!

Remembering that I had an atlas in the van, I went and got it and gave it to her, asking if she'd like to look for more rocks that look like states.

"Yes!" she exclaimed and ran off, rock and atlas in hand to search for more.

By the end of the afternoon, she'd found at least half a dozen states, and wanted to keep looking, but it was getting too chilly and the sun was going down, so I promised to take her and her siblings down to the creek the next day to continue the search.

A whole week of geography

The next day, I printed a copy of the map from the Scrambled States game and then we went to the creek that borders my parent's pasture. There we spent a good part of the afternoon searching the banks for more rocks that resembled states, finding another dozen or so that were excellent approximations.

My daughter was so happy with her finds, she asked if she could paint the rocks to match the states on the map.

"Sure!" I said, really amazed that she'd managed to essentially come up with a whole unit study on geography all on her own.

We'd be working on learning about states for at least a week, maybe more, and she'd have some pretty cool souvenirs to keep for a long time to come.

"This is homeschooling," I thought. What had been a day off from planned studies turned into an amazing learning experience encompassing geography, reading and art that I would have never thought to introduce, but those unplanned homeschooling adventures are the very best part of this form of education.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I suck at drawing! Or maybe I just thought I did...

I can't tell you how many times I have said that line. "I suck at drawing!" Most of my life, I have been frustrated, because the things I wanted to draw didn't come out looking like they did in my head. And I hated that.

But recently, after watching a video by The Virtual Instructor on YouTube, where he slowly and systematically demonstrated how to draw a realistic eye, it occurred to me that if I want my kids to bravely try things, and not give up after a few failed attempts - you know, if I didn't want to hear them say, "I suck at that!" - I needed to lead by example.

So, I asked my older daughter if I could borrow the oil pastels she'd gotten for Christmas last year, and we sat down with a coffee table book about animals and a few sheets of black construction paper.

Now, my drawings are usually so bad, so flat and non-lifelike, so honestly pathetic that I gave up on ever pursuing art as any sort of hobby or pastime years ago. But going slowly, and just trying to put down on the paper the colors I saw in my reference photo, like the instructor in the YouTube video suggested, my drawing began to look pretty cool. Not bad at all for a first attempt at drawing with oil pastels, even if poor Quasimodo's right eye is oddly over sized.

Okay, so maybe I don't suck at drawing. Maybe I just never had a good teacher before, and maybe I never gave it a proper chance. But I am pretty thrilled with my frog, and I am anxious to try drawing again, and to watch more of The Virtual Instructor's videos! And if this experience helps to encourage my kids to try more things, even things they think they suck at, well, that's the best part of all.