I don’t plan the school year in advance, nor do I purchase a year-long curriculum, so I occasionally ask the kids if they have any requests for our next topic of study. This time the answer was art.
We began with an art resource stored in the back of my brain, a recommendation from Brave Writer, Sister Wendy. A few of the Sister Wendy videos were not hard to find on YouTube, but the kiddos were far from interested, even as I was quite taken with the adorable nun. I handed Penelope the copy of Discovering Great Artists, a book I bought ages ago for simple child-friendly art projects using a variety of techniques.
Sometimes you start with ideas and supplies you already have.
The YouTube bunny trail continued with Art with Mati and Dada, and five or six of their short animations introducing various famous artists throughout history. These shows led to some Jackson Pollack inspired paintings and pointillism experiments. Who can resist trying to paint like Pollack?! A few weeks have passed and the red paint is still splashed in the wall, but we persevere.
After the initial topic request, I grabbed a few books from the library. My library had a copy of The Art Book for Children and Usborne’s book of Famous Artists, both of which were useful for an initial dive into paintings throughout history. Penelope practiced with drawing and expressed interest in a drawing class. She used the YouTube videos by Paul Priestley which kept her going one afternoon.
During this time I was reading Seth Godin’s The Icarus Deception, my first read of this author. It accidentally tied into this general topic of study, I couldn’t have planned it better. His take on art in the current economy is powerful. I was left inspired to keep on keeping on: with this blog, with the farm, and not afraid to change things up when necessary.
Over the course of a couple weeks, a handful of conversations took place philosophizing what it means to be an artist and to create art. Frederick declares that artists can be musicians and dancers and such, and I breath a sign of relief that even as a kindergartner he understands that an artist doesn’t have to be a painter or an expert in drawing.
“Art is personal. Art is untested. Art is intended to connect.” Seth Godin
I would love to continue this topic with clay tree faces and a few pictures books . We started watching the Netflix series Abstract, which features an artist per episode from various specialties; I’m sure we’ll continue to watch. And from the adult perspective, I hope to continue modeling an artist’s mentality and lifestyle for the kiddos, therefore opening up space for them to explore their interests.
Bunny trails can lead to new places of learning, even without formally constructed lesson plans; you need only trust to follow the kids who are following the trails.
A few honorable mentions. Things we enjoyed along the way:
- A YouTube video clip of a dot taking a walk led us to The Dot, a beloved story which was recently covered in a song by Emily Arrow. We then felt the need to watch many Emily Arrow videos.
- The kids are big fans of the violin performances of Lindsey Stirling.
- We lucked out at a free 6 month membership to the Flint Institute of Arts, our closest museum, and Frederick is now old enough to be trusted near the art. Our recent visit alerted us to an upcoming LEGO competition and Frederick ended up entering!
- Spring was just coming on during this study, so naturally the cameras were documenting the bright greens and the first buds were being adored. These observations were posted to Instagram and blogs. Note: the more often I notice how a field of study bleeds into daily life, the easier it is to be aware of this phenomenon. The watercolors also find their way out during this season; spring is a season of watercolor.