Teach art to your homeschool co-op.
If you want to know how to teach art to your homeschool co-op, this post is for you! Sometimes moms just don’t feel like they can take time from their core programs to plan, prepare and teach art. So it is often desired in a co-op setting. Sometimes we are blessed with those who are gifted in art willing to lead the co-op class. But what do we do when no one comes forward to teach it?
I propose that anyone can teach art to their children or a homeschool co-op. Yes, skill helps. But for art, everyone has to start somewhere. With good lessons and instructions anyone can teach basic art appreciation and skills to elementary students. It’s really not hard to teach art to your homeschool co-op. All you truly need is some interest and a genuine appreciation for art.
Gather resources and write your lesson plan.
As with any class, you must plan and prepare. I always begin by doing research about an artist and gathering good free resources. You can purchase a program of course, which will save a good amount of time in writing your lesson, but it can often be costly in order to be used in a co-op setting. If you plan to use a program for sale, be sure to follow the license agreement for use with co-ops. Normally, you can purchase additional license to use the curriculum with a co-op. But if an option is not available, honor copyright by contacting the company for permission first.
Art supplies can be expensive, so I use any money in my budget solely for supplies and supplement with my own supplies from home. To avoid additional extra cost I plan my own lessons or use free ideas and resources online often adapting them for my class. For this Grant Wood lesson I was inspired by this PDF on Textured Landscapes from Juneau School District as well as this textured landscape example from arteascuola.com. Instead of using oil pastels or felt tip pens I adapted the ideas to be used to introduce watercolor pencils to my class. In order to do so, I had to make sure the children used permanent marker when making their landscape. Otherwise, when we added water, it would have made typical markers run. We also had to use watercolor paper. Be sure to use the right kind of paper for the right materials- it WILL matter.
As you prepare your class you will need to:
- Choose an artist.
- Find a good book or biography about them. Inform yourself about the artist’s style, background, study, techniques, and genre.
- Make a list of vocabulary terms. Introduce and use with your students.
- Find a good project. You can use something that imitates the artists famous qualities such as in this Grant Wood example or you can tie one in based on one of their quotes or some other fact about them.
- Make a materials list.
- Test the project. You must always test the project first. Troubleshoot, tweak and simplify the project as needed and make sure it can be completed by children in the time allotted. If you adapt a project be sure it will work with the materials you have; different art mediums and materials work and effect one another differently.
- Choose a skill for practice that can be applied to the project. You can ensure your students are able to do the project by first allowing them practice.
Once you have your resources and have decided on a project it is time to make a lesson plan. Start with making a materials list.
For this project example you will need for each student:
- Water Color Paper
- Sharpie Fine Point Markers black, brown or gray
- Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils
- Fine/small watercolor paint brushes
- Paper to practice patterns on
- A sheet of sample patterns
Preparation is extremely important for my type of classes. I cover so much material. A complete lesson includes a lesson on the artist, his works, a skill and the project itself in just an hour. I come prepared. I always pre-cut and divvy up materials before class starts which saves valuable class time for teaching the project. In most classes, I have about 3-4 students per table. For this lesson, due to cost, each table shares a set of watercolor pencils. I also made sure I had paper for them to practice their patterns on. And though I don’t pass them out till it’s time, I had the markers, watercolor pencils, water cups and brushes already prepared and ready to be passed out on a table nearby. I hold off on passing them out until it’s time because to me having them on the table for my students means go for it!
Plan each section of the lesson. Then you are ready to teach art to your homeschool co-op.
- Introduce an artist-artist study. ( 5 min.)
- Discuss their works- picture study. (10 min.)
- Teach a practice skill- warm up exercise. (15min.)
- Teach while demonstrating- the project. (30 min.)
Read a short and simple biography about the artist or choose a picture book. The Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists (Grant Wood) is a great series but you can find many many great children’s books at your local library. By choosing an artist to focus each class on, your students won’t just be learning about a skill, they will be learning about art history and development too. I think it’s best to add art history to the mix, especially for homeschoolers, because where you may lack in art expertise you can make up for with great information. If your class is all year, consider a timeline. Place the artist you are studying each session on the timeline.
Think about how to highlight, introduce or emphasize the art movement or time period of the artist. Grant Wood was part of the growth of art known as Regionalism which was popular in the 1930’s. Naturally as I teach I would use and explain the vocabulary I selected for this lesson.
Vocabulary List: Regionalism, landscape, portrait, patterns, perspective, overlapping, modernism (which Regionalism was in stark contrast to) etc.
Be sure to take some time to look at some art pieces from the artist you are studying. Ask questions to your students about the works. For Grant Wood I point out patterns in his art, specifically in his landscapes. But I also point out the many shapes repeated in his famous American Gothic. Lines in the house and shed, the pattern of her dress repeated in the curtain, the shape of the pitch fork repeated in the bib overalls and the face shapes, etc.
With most lessons I want kids to try a skill used in the project before asking them to apply it. For this lesson I gave them grids and asked them to make several patterns. It was very fun to see what they came up with! I led them through a few that would be specifically applicable for making our patterned landscapes.
Now it’s time to demonstrate step by step to the children the project. For Grant Wood, we made patterned landscapes with water color pencil. On watercolor paper I demonstrated these steps:
- Divide your paper into three horizontal lines- not straight and not all similar. The top one will be your horizon. Then add a few more lines to divide these.
- Add different patterns to each segment but leave one completely blank. This will be your crops in the rolling hills. I use sloppy x’s to make my rows of corn. Dots, lines, and grids are all great patterns.
- Add clouds, trees and bushes if desired repeating their shapes.
- Now add color using the watercolor pencils one item at a time. We started at the top. For the clouds I outlined them in blue and then colored the sky blue. You must leave the clouds white.
- Next we outlined the trees and then the bushes and colored them in.
- Then we added color to each segment of the fields alternating color.
- Lastly, we used water on our brushes to bring the watercolor pencil’s magic to life. This was the fun part. The children really enjoyed seeing the project take on new form. It offers an alternative with more control of the color than typical watercolor painting. It was a big success!
Additional Grant Wood Resources for Teaching
- A great biography for Grant Wood from Art Smarts 4 Kids
- Another Simple Grant Wood Biography
- Barb @ Harmony Fine Arts has these wonderful FREE Art Question Cards!
- American Gothic Color Page from About.com
- Fabulous Textured Grant Wood Landscape Collage from Splats, Scraps and Glue Blobs
- Felt Pen Textured Landscapes
You don’t have to be an expert artist to teach art for your homeschool co-op. All you really need is an interest and love for art because ultimately that’s what you want to pass on to your students. The teaching part can be learned and developed as you go.
Visit How I Teach for more great homeschool teaching tips!