Monday, April 23, 2012

Teaching Kids about Art

Although my husband is not particularly artistic, he loves art. It wasn't a love that he grew up with but one that he cultivated in his ten years as a teacher. During his 10-year career in education, he incorporated art history into his social studies courses and visited famous art museums around the world with his students. Now that he is out of the classroom, a love of art and its history is something that he is trying to instill in our kids. While I'm not nearly as knowledgeable about art as my husband is, I want my children to have an appreciation for art as well.

As I plan activities for our summer, art will definitely figure into our days. While Brett experiences the business side of the art world as a legal intern for a museum, I'll be looking for ways to incorporate art into my time at home with the girls. To get us started, I picked up a copy of this book for L and E:

This beautiful hardback book highlights the following 13 artists:
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Jan Vermeer
  • Claude Monet
  • Henri Rousseau
  • Mary Cassatt
  • Vincent van Gogh
  • Henri Matisse
  • Paul Klee
  • Franz Marc
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Marc Chagall
  • Frida Kahlo
  • Andy Warhol

Each chapter is 2-4 pages long and talks about the artist, the time period in which he/she lived and what the artist tried to communicate through art. Several examples of each artist's work are included. However, I will note that some of the artwork does depict nudity - namely Vitruvian Man by daVinci, The Dream by Rousseau, The Dance by Matisse, Guernica by Picasso, and My Grandparents, My Parents, and I by Kahlo. Personally, this doesn't bother our family, but I know that others might feel differently.

Honestly, I'm getting excited about studying art with L and E this summer. I think we'll use this book as a jumping off point. Naturally, we'll include field trips to some art museums (Daddy's work of course!) and some at-home art projects. I'm also seriously considering purchasing some curriculum from Meet The Masters, a system for teaching art that includes multi-media slide presentations, technique packets and art projects. They offer several different tracks that cover 5 artists each, and each track is available in different age levels. You can see how Meet the Masters works here. Track A includes lessons on Van Gogh, Cassatt, Mondrian,  Picasso and Monet. Wouldn't that be a great way to follow up our study of the book?! I'm happy to see that they offer the program to homeschools and small groups in addition to public schools so that everyone can have access to this great resource.

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