We were so excited to receive The Way They SEE It from ARTistic Pursuits to review because while arts and crafts are a huge part of our life, we have never used a curriculum to teach it. Some of our curriculum have arts and crafts activities or suggestions to incorporate into history, literacy or science lessons. But thanks to ARTistic Pursuits, we now have a curriculum that is separate from the rest of our lessons and gives us 30 minutes a day that is dedicated to art.
The Way They SEE It is a curriculum for preschool aged children (3-5) that will help them explore art, textures and materials (both natural and store bought). As a parent and homeschool teacher, it was wonderful to read through this book. I learned so much about teaching art to younger children, like how to approach lessons and how to talk about art. This book is also non-consumable, which means I was able to use it with both of my children! Munchkin is 3 and Bean is 5. Both were able to actively participate in all of the art lessons we created.
Check out the Book List for more titles from ARTistic Pursuits (grades - preschool, K-3, 4-5, 6-8, 9-12, plus books on sculptures).
Before beginning to use The Way They SEE It, I would suggest checking the materials list and seeing what you have on hand before making a trip to the store. Most of the art materials are things you typically buy for preschool aged children, like Crayola crayons, construction paper, blunt scissors, Elmer's glue, etc. So chances are you already have some on hand! Things like drawing paper don't have to be exact, but there is a reason why they suggest using products by Crayola, Elmer's, Fiskars, and Mr. Sketch. And that's quality. Other times they will suggest a product, like Play-Doh, and provide a recipe to make your own, if that's what you prefer.
The Way They SEE it covers 26 lessons and 10 bonus projects. There are over 150 illustrations, some from well known artists and others by children. This book goes over many of our go-to materials, like markers, crayons, paint and play dough, and teaches us how to create interesting works of art with them. We also really loved the "Picture Talk" pages, which features a famous work of art and prompts children to answer questions and really think about the art. But on top of that, it also has a project that goes along with it!
Usually, I'd read the "Grown-up Talk" page before sitting down with my kids. This part is for parents and teachers and talks about art, motivators, understanding children's art, and ideas to use for lessons, among other useful topics. Then the kids would come over and look at the art on the "Picture Talk" page. After that, I'd gather up materials and see what they create. Sometimes it goes along with what we talked about, other times they do their own thing. Some of Bean's favorite lessons were "Inventing a Language of Symbols," "Telling a Story Project," "Impressions project," and "Art to Retell an Event." Munchkin stuck to drawing cars, monster trucks, boats and planes. There really was no helping it.
Below you will find some examples of Munchkin and Bean's art that came from lessons throughout The Way They SEE It.
Sometimes art is painting all over your body or clothes. (Don't worry, it's washable Crayola paint, it all came out! And yes, that is Bean with a painted-on beard.)
Painting with toys became a fun activity. I highly suggest using washable paint when you're using toys, so it washes off more easily. Boulder, from Rescue Bots, loves art and painting in the show and his toy figure happens to be able to hold a paint brush!
Texture painting with cars and trucks.
Using liquid glue for the first time led to Munchkin discovering he could glue his Lincoln Logs together so he can play with them (usually we kept them together with elastic bands). This is his train.
Studying art also led to Bean discovering that letters can turn into pictures. Her A morphed into an alien UFO. A for alien!
We worked on "Cutting Shapes" (page 81), which meant Bean had to create exactly the pictures in the book.
Other times we used stickers to work on fine motor skills and to learn about figures and placement.
Here is Bean's drawing of her brother. Notice his mass of curly hair?
And here is Bean's "family portrait."
Munchkin usually draws lots of scribbles and vehicles. Can you see the car in the red river? There are two people inside. (The river is red because he happened to see one that was red in a book at the library.)
Below you can find a collage of some of their paintings. They really liked painting objects they were looking at (first four - tractor, turtle, sea urchin, tooth with a smiley face). The last four are from the "mark-making project" which can be found on page 15.
And here is a lovely collage of their many drawings and doodles that came from the amazing lessons from The Way They SEE It. Bean's people figures evolved!
As part of the "Identifying Colors Project" (page 21) we learned about colors by creating a large color wheel. We went around the house collecting art materials (and sometimes toys) to match the colors. Or opening a book of famous art paintings and comparing and matching the colors to our palette before recreating the painting. We also stopped by a paint store and collected new paint chips to learn about different shades of colors (similar to our matching paint chips activity) and used them to mix paint colors together. This time we put all shades of one color on one ring, and all the rings on a much bigger ring, so if they want to work with just shades of red, they can just remove the red ring.
Something that became very common around our house was that we now talk about art all the time. Talk about nature. Talk about creativity and inspiration. Talk about imagination. When you sit down to look at art, ask what they are thinking about, ask what it makes them feel, ask if it inspires them to create something of their own. And then let them create it using whatever materials they want. When you sit down to create art, give them space and only step in when they request it. Hovering and pestering distracts and frustrates most artists, but especially children who already have a short attention span.
Also, don't make art a chore, just encourage it. Art should be fun and inspired. For younger children, art should be about exploring textures and materials, techniques, and discovering their style. Don't worry about scribbles. Scribbles are part of the process.
Pros and Cons of using this book:
- The Way They SEE It is 90 pages long, but they are one sided pages, which I view as kind of wasteful. However, due to the way the book is set up, I can understand why they printed it this way.
- Teaches parents how to understand the art their children create.
- Engages both parents and children.
- Is non-consumable, which means the book can be used by the whole family.
- Plastic comb bound, which makes reading it so much easier.
- Teaches art appreciation, about artists, skills, and techniques that young children can understand.
- It's affordable, only $47.95 for the book, which all your children can use.
- It grows with your child. If they work through it, go ahead and work through it again the next year. Compare what they learned and see how far their art has come. If they are ready, move on to the Early Elementary books (Book 1 - Introduction to the Visual Arts, Book 2 - Stories of Artists and Their Art, Book 3 - Modern Painting and Sculpture).
- No structured lessons. Children can learn and express their art at their own pace.
I really didn't have many issues with this art curriculum. We love it and look forward to using ARTistic Pursuits in future years for our art education! I highly recommend this curriculum for first-time and experienced homeschoolers. The lessons are detailed and informative, and educated both myself and my children.
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