Many homeschooling parents are afraid to teach art, claiming that they are not creative and don’t have artistic ability of their own. So they avoid art altogether in favor of more accessible subjects like science and math. Adding art to any homeschooling day doesn’t need to be intimidating —even if you aren't artistic yourself. Plunge in alongside your kids and learn with them, using these fifteen simple ways to add art to any homeschool day.
You may worry that some of these techniques are sporadic or too random to be effective. But don't stress about following any kind of scope and sequence for art, especially at first. When you are first starting out, you need to boost your confidence in art by doing what's low-risk and fun. Then branch out as you gain skill and become intrigued by different facets of art.
1. Read books!
Read books about art styles such as pointillism, impressionism, and cubism. Borrow biographies about famous painters and sculptors. When you take a living books approach to art, you will discover there are books ranging from picture books to coffee table art reproductions to novels.
2. Go on a trip to an art museum.
Over the past year I have made it a point to visit more art museums with my boys. They loved visiting the galleries to view the different forms of art. Although we don't always understand what we are looking at, I'm still laying a foundation of appreciation. When we avail ourselves of the educational resources provided by the facility, our visit is always enriched. So ask questions and peruse all the free literature you can find on site. Then discuss your experience afterwards over a snack or meal. Your discussion can be informal and still be effective.
3. Buy an art kit.
The kits come complete with instructions and usually most of the supplies you'll need (aside from obvious household supplies like a cup and water). My boys even had watercolor art kits that taught about mixing colors and blending. We simply had to read and follow the directions. It was truly foolproof and helped to erase some of my insecurities about art.
4. Watch a YouTube video!
Whether a craft tutorial or a historical documentary, there are hundreds of art videos available at a click of a mouse. The upside is that we can pause, rewind, and follow along step by step.
5. Follow the instructions on an art website to create art work.
More often than not, we tend to pull art ideas from the internet. Many art blogs break the art activity into easy to follow, step-by-step instructions, complete with pictures to keep us on track. Start with The Art Curator, and follow her suggested list of art education blogs. Most of them have options that cover medium (charcoal, pencil, paint), style, artist, and elements (line, space, perspective). Where should you start? Wherever your children (or you) are most attracted! There is no right or wrong.
6. Use coloring books.
So many people dismiss coloring books as juvenile, but they can be a great way to add art into homeschooling. Playing with colors and learning to add depth, light, and shadow to pre-drawn pictures is fun and educational. There are also coloring books featuring outlines of famous works of art. You can try to reproduce the colors and shading from the original or create your own unique version.
7. Remember that art is more than formal drawing and painting.
Art can also take the form of jewelry making, sculpting, Zentangle, animation, graphic design, etc. Often just giving kids access to various materials and stepping back to allow them time to create on their own is sufficient. Kids are naturally creative and not as afraid of making mistakes — let them play and explore.
8. Don't forget about photography!
Building on number 7, photography is an art form too. With digital cameras, it's easier than ever to get kids involved in taking pictures. When introducing my boys to photography we talked about composition, taking multiple photos from different angles, and making our photos interesting.
9. Take a class.
I have signed my boys up for in-person classes in our local area, and we have taken other art classes together as a family. For example, my boys and I learned about glass-fusing. If your area doesn't offer any kind of art experiences or classes, look online for virtual field trips or online art instruction. There is no reason not to learn if you have the desire!
10. Follow how to draw books.
My kids have developed wonderful drawing skills following along with the directions in how to draw books. Most how to draw books build from simple shapes like circles, ovals and lines with step-by-step instructions.
11. Play art games.
The educational art games from Birdcage Press are a lovely addition to your art repertoire. Or you can make your own DIY art memory cards for matching art or making sets from the same artist.
12. Use computer programs or apps.
There are many fun computer and video game programs that encourage drawing and painting. My kids have taught themselves to use Design Cad and play with lots of art and drawing themed apps like Drawing Pad, Sketch Book, and Kids Doodle. Some fine art apps are like a virtual museum right in your tablet, offering thousands of works of art, background information about artists, and historical context. Simply let your children toy about with the app on your fifth day without BookShark lessons.
13. Put together puzzles of famous works of art.
I was pleasantly surprised to see just how many wonderful paintings and works of art are available in puzzle form. It's such a wonderful way to incorporate a bit of art. You can bet that putting together 500 or 1000 pieces brings an intimate knowledge of a work of art in a way seeing it in a book never could.
14. Rely on art activity books.
My boys have recently found a series of art I Spy books that they just love. We also have some Find the Difference books that use famous works of art. They're a fun way to introduce my kids to the masters without any pressure.
15. Find a homeschooling mom or dad to swap with.
We all have strengths and weaknesses, and if art really is not something you feel comfortable teaching or doing with your children, find a homeschooling parent who does and trade teaching. You lead some science experiments while the other parent guides the kids through an art activity.
About the Author
Joanne Rawson is the author of the blog Our Unschooling Journey. Known around the web as Mother of 3, Joanne began her blog when she first started homeschooling her three boys in 2012. She lives in Connecticut with her family and enjoys reading, crafting, and traveling... all of which usually ends up on her blog.