Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Schoolhouse Crew Review: ARTistic Pursuits

Ashlyn's loved all things art from the time she was pretty little, although I do remember her first reaction to finger paints was absolute HORROR!! "GET IT OFF ME!!!" She's still not a huge fan of getting messy, but she'll put up with it for the sake of art.

A few years ago we enjoyed reviewing one of the ARTistic Pursuits books for grades K-3.  I was really excited to see ARTistic Pursuits back on the schedule of reviews for this year, and we were THRILLED when we were picked to review it. Ashlyn chose to review Elementary 4-5, Book 2: Color and Composition and both she and Lexie have been working on it independently for the last several weeks.

We received a non-consumable, spiral book, which retails for $47.95. It was necessary to purchase the needed art supplies to go with this book. I chose to purchase what we needed from a local craft store, however, for your convenience, art supply packs can be purchased that include all needed art supplies. One thing I appreciated about the Middle School books, over the Elementary book we reviewed a couple years ago was that the required supplies were much less. Because the Elementary book taught a variety of techniques, we needed to get quite a few art supplies. The book we're reviewing this year focuses exclusively on water color pencil techniques, so all we needed was the pencils and a couple different kinds of paper. Much easier, and less costly!

While Elementary 4-5, Book 2: Color and Composition follows Book 1, the books can be done in any order. Since Ashlyn loves painting and drawing with pencils, this was the one that appealed to her the most. The Elementary 4-5 books are for ages 9 and up and are designed to be used independently. Each Unit is divided into 4 lessons. It is expected that each unit will take 2 weeks (so 2 lessons per week). Each lesson includes some text to read and then an assignment to draw something using the information learned in that lesson.  There are 16 units in the book, so if used on the suggested schedule, the book will cover 32 weeks.

Because this curriculum is designed for 4th and 5th graders to be able to use it independently, I pretty much turned my 5th graders loose with it. Some weeks they did a lesson every day, other weeks, they did less. I was expecting Ashlyn to move very quickly through it, since she loves art and would jump at the chance to "have" to do art every day, but, while she does love it, and is loving being able to say "but Mommy, it's for a review, I HAVE to do it!" (usually when I'd like her to dry dishes or somesuch LOL), She's moved through it slowly because she puts so much thought and detail into each and every drawing and painting. I LOVE that, and am perfectly happy to let her work through this at her own pace.

Initially Lexie wasn't even sure she wanted to work on this review. She doesn't dislike art and drawing, but it definitely isn't her passion, like it is for Ashlyn. But when I needed a "final answer" because we were going to the craft store to pick up the supplies, she decided she wanted to do it too. I was kind of expecting her to go slower, and only do a couple lessons a week like the schedule suggests/requires, but she's been doing a lesson most days that we're home, so I think, because Ashlyn takes so much longer on the actual art assignments, Lexie's actually going through the book faster. It's nice to be able to just turn them each loose and let them move at their own speeds. Its interesting to see the differences in what they choose to draw and paint, as well as just how they see things, I think both are doing remarkably well, and they each definitely have their own style :)

I LOVE that this is something that takes NONE of my time!!! There is no teacher prep, no "grading" (other than getting to see their drawings and paintings, which is fun!), no "instruction". . . The most "work" this entire curriculum has been for me was driving to the craft store and buying their pencils and paper :) Much as I love being a part of what they're learning, it's been really nice to let them do this completely on their own.

I asked the girls, separately, what their opinions of this curriculum are. Ashlyn raved for several minutes about how it's the best thing in the whole wide world, condensing down all the raving, what I got from her is that she really likes watercolor pencils (the chosen art medium for this book) because they work for both drawing and painting. She also loves that every lesson includes an art project and that it teaches about artists, as well as different art techniques to make her a better artist.

Lexie was much more succinct. "I liked it."

When I prodded her abit, by asking what she'd tell a parent who was considering getting it for their children, she said "I'd tell them to get it because the kids get to do a picture on every single lesson . . . it's fun!"

So, it's unanimous, all of us LOVED this curriculum!

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Click on the banner below to see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of a variety of ARTistic Pursuits books, including their two new, Sculpture books, Construct and Model


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2 comments:

Lisa M. (aka. Lisa @ Farm Fresh) said...

I enjoyed reading your review! I bet it was nice to have one book that worked for both girls. And how cool to see their different takes on the same projects.

Kym T said...

So interesting to see how the girls had such different approaches to the book. Loved reading your review!