I’ve mentioned previously that I’m not a big fan of doing art. Between gathering supplies and the mess it makes, art was frequently put on the back burner. But perhaps the biggest hindrance to doing a formal art program was that I had the kids working at their own level. While a leveled art curriculum sounds good in theory, it means unique materials and assistance required for each child. The biggest problem was my children aren’t motivated to do art on their own. I got lots of whining about not being able to do the project or just having no idea what to make when choices were given. This, despite using what I consider to be excellent materials.
Atelier came to my rescue. A DVD-based curriculum, Atelier’s greatest strengths addressed my family’s weaknesses:
- One level can be used by multiples ages (I’ve had 5-13yos working together)
- The video clearly demonstrates what to do
- The video shows children’s imperfect approaches to the project, reducing the I-can’t-do-it’s
- Uses mostly easy to obtain, inexpensive materials that can be bought at the beginning of the year
- The guidebook even shows you how to set up the materials for each student
- If you show the video, the kids will hound you until you do the art 🙂
I’ve been delighted by what my children have achieved. Working together really gets their creativity (and okay, competitiveness) going.
There are some drawbacks, but I’ve been able to address them, so you could, too:
- Some projects are a little on the childish side for the older set. My 13yo hasn’t minded, adding humor to his work.
- It’s not inexpensive. The Level 3 package (one year’s worth) which we purchased, retails for $155. I purchased mine from eBay for less. You may be able to purchase used. If you have multiple children like I do, the price is much more reasonable.
- The videos are dated. I’m not sure when they were produced, but it was more than a few years ago. My kids haven’t complained and the quality of the instruction more than makes up for it.
- It could be tougher to use with one child. Consider creating a co-op for art with other families. You can split the cost and the work and you’ll all have more fun.
- The over-sized paper can be hard to find. I purchased mine on Amazon.
The best way I’ve found to motivate myself to use an art curriculum like Atelier is to schedule it. We do art on Tuesday afternoons, unless we have a conflict. I should note that Atelier’s program also includes teaching on the great artists and artwork of history. We just haven’t used that part yet. I’m working on getting the tougher stuff (for me) out of the way first.
Here’s a link to a blog post describing their use of Atelier using the same Level (and even the same project) I’ve displayed here.
What do you do to get art into the school day?
Have I ever mentioned that I homeschool six kids? As a result, I have stuff. A lot of stuff. Not only do we have a lot of toys and games (multiply just six gifts a year times six and you’ll see my problem. Of course, they get more than six gifts each!).
I have spent years coming up with systems for keeping toys, games, and puzzles organized. I have definitely found some approaches that work. For example, storing games vertically works better than horizontally or in bins. What also works is using our old ping pong table to provide storage for suitcases and bins underneath. What isn’t working is the putting away part.
Not only do I have six kids full-time, but I have had 11 more joining us for homeschool activities on Fridays. Our super fun co-op activities require lots and lots of art supplies. Using them is fun. Putting them away isn’t.
As you can see, I’ve tried clever strategies for storing paints and underneath the bench are more art supplies.
Yet another problem with our storage area is that it isn’t just for kids. We keep our gifts, gift wrapping supplies, electronic accessories, party supplies, and seasonal decorations here, too.
In our playroom is a second closet we use for costume storage. This is another area where I need A LOT because of our co-op activities. This year we had to dress for the Revolutionary War and for Africa.
I was determined to get control of these areas while participating in my simplify101 class and to be ready for next school year. The good news is I no longer have toddlers or preschoolers. In theory, the kids should be of help. 🙂 I did enlist everyone’s help in decluttering. The approach that works best for me is to lay out a blanket on the playroom floor. Any of the kids may take items that they wish to donate to the blanket. Anything not worthy of donating goes directly to trash bags. This system works beautifully because everyone can see what is ostensibly being donated. Otherwise the older child gleefully puts all the younger’s favorite toys out for donation. Likewise any educational items would go bye-bye without my watchful eye. My husband played a crucial role in boxing up all the donated items and drove them to the charity the same day.
I haven’t shown you every part of the storage room (there are other shelves that were organized and hidden bins that were emptied), but these are the results!
The red bucket on the right is my solution for keeping this room organized. Anything that needs to be put away goes in the bucket, NOT on the table. When it’s full, it will be emptied.
My other idea was to put plastic tablecloths I already owned on the ping pong table. The paint is chipping off of it anyway and it creates a don’t-mess-me-up atmosphere that partners well with the red tub.
The biggest job with the craft and seasonal storage areas was to throw things out.
I was able to get rid of enough stuff that I could keep a bin of other costume basics that was being stored with the toys and games. As you can see, I am continuing to store outsized shoes here.
Hope I’ve inspired you to unload toys, crafts, or costumes that you don’t use, need, or love!