Today, I’m sharing my honest review of ARTistic Pursuits: Art of the Ancients. I received a copy of the book and DVD curriculum (part of the Art for Children books (K-3rd Grade Level, Volumes 1-8) from ARTistic Pursuits Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I spent the past three weeks exploring this art-slash-art history homeschool curriculum with my PreK, Kindergarten and fifth-grade students. We will continue to use it alongside our ancient history study this spring.
We’ve been in ancient history as part of our classical co-op this year, but history and art are not well-aligned in this group.
The fine arts portion of our co-op study is dedicated to drawing lessons and artists. We did some fun projects at co-op, but we love art in our house, so I’ve been looking for something more to do. I also have three very hands-on learners, and this curriculum looked like just the way to cement some of the reading we’ve been doing in history.
We’ve been reading through Genesis and a Child’s History of the World as our main history since the beginning of March. We’ve also been making a shift toward a more Charlotte Mason homeschool this calendar year. The timing of adding ARTistic Pursuits couldn’t have come at a better time in our year. This thorough art instruction program makes my job as curator of our homeschool so simple and enjoyable.
Before I dive into our completed projects, I’d like to share what I liked and would improve about this curriculum.
What I Loved About ARTistic Pursuits as a Teacher:
I really like the setup of this curriculum. It’s simple and ALL in one book! Here are the details of why I loved ARTistic Pursuits as a teacher:
- An upfront supply list. This is so helpful for preparing for the lessons ahead of time. As any homeschool mom knows, prep is key to getting art and other lessons done! The supply list is included at the very beginning of the book.
- An overview of each lesson and encouragement to teach simply. That’s a key component for me. I don’t like to bore my kids with long explanations. I’ll lose their interest if I do. Charlotte Mason was on to something with short lessons. So, it’s valuable that this doesn’t take long to teach.
- Real, full-color art reproductions to study in the book. As I said before, we’ve only stepped into the Charlotte Mason method of teaching lately. (I’ve done picture study with my oldest in language arts, but this is our first time as a whole family.) The paintings, murals, wall paintings, figures, reliefs and architectural reference photos help bring these ancient art forms to life. It’s fun to hear what your kids say about them too.
- Questions to get kids thinking about art. I liked the way the author Brenda Ellis included the vocabulary of art in a question form, such as “Can you find a pillar in this Greek painting?” It’s a helpful way of talking about art and helping students learn to observe art.
What I Would Improve About This Curriculum
I was sad that we couldn’t get the DVD to play on any of our devices with DVD capabilities. This was not a vendor problem, but an unfortunate dilemma in my home that both the computers with DVD function failed. (Kids!)
Our family is pretty tech-oriented and with newer model computers and tablets, we don’t use DVDs or Blu-Ray very often. Newer computers don’t have the drive space for a DVD player. I’d recommend the vendor offer a streaming option for video instruction in the future. We also travel a great deal and I have to be considerate of what resources we take.
I love that the curriculum and student text are all in the same book, but the streaming option would be very beneficial.
What We Did During the Review Period
We received this earlier in the year, but some unforeseen travel and scheduling issues made us push our review time back a bit. However, we spent some dedicated time reviewing several of the lessons as a picture study and we completed two actual projects. We may have had time for one more, but I expanded the projects to include a book on the Egyptians and I had so much fun doing the clay sculpture, I spent an entire afternoon with the project.
Clay Statue Building: A Fun Afternoon of Reeds, Clay & Sunshine
We read the lesson and discussed how archaeologists can learn about a civilization from the artifacts (including art pieces) they find in digs and ruins. Then we looked at several of the statues in the book.
We took our art outside because it was a lovely day and clay is hard to clean up without major table and floor coverage. We used quick dry modeling clay, “reeds” from our garden (daffodil grass), scissors, rubber bands rolling pins, paintbrushes, water, and watercolors as our supplies.
I followed the instructions in the book rather closely, except for the banding of the reeds. I used a rubber band to make each child a skeleton for their statue. This worked really well. The kids rolled out their clay into a circle or rectangle and wrapped the reeds. They made body parts out of smaller sections of clay.
This project kept my littles’ attention for about 20 minutes. My big girl and I worked on it for about 2 hours. We were really into designing arms and hair for our “mother” statues.
We rated this project as 4.5 stars out of five because my kids are obsessed with ratings. 🙂 We kept the statues in our kitchen window for about a week and my son decided they would be fun to dismantle.
Egyptian Garden Murals: A Combo Project + A Fun Day of Learning When Mama Needed a Break
So, we had to pick my husband up from the airport and make a trip to the OT plus two hours of dance practice. That sentence just makes me tired. Instead of a day of skills plus morning time, we took an extended morning time and combined two projects from Art of the Ancients.
We combined the mural painting with Egyptian garden art because I had some old grocery bags to crumble. We made “caves” out of the bags and used chalk and oil pastels to create our garden scenes.
I pulled out our easels for this project to make the kids feel like real artists. The littles gave us about 15 minutes of creating and the big kid and I spent around 20 minutes on our pictures.
To make this art history homeschool day come alive, we read our history spine plus we looked at our Geography of the World reference book to map Egypt and to learn more about Egyptians and their civilization in the ancient past and today.
We used the questions in the book to guide us in our drawing – different trees, distinctive elements about individual plants and animals, and elements you would see in a garden.
My kids gave this project 4 stars out of 5. They didn’t enjoy it as much as the clay statue building, but crumbling paper bags was a most excellent activity. Mama loved combining so many subjects in about an hour.
Our Overall Impression + Tips
This art history homeschool curriculum is an excellent way to learn about different mediums as well as historical periods of art. I believe it’s a huge help to the homeschool mom who wants to combine both art lessons and art history homeschool curriculum, but she’s not sure where to start.
I loved the simplicity of the lessons and the very organized book. My favorite part is that it’s all in one book. This is excellent for our family because are a traveling family with limited space for school supplies. I also really like to take art on the go – to the park or somewhere else, and it’s simple to grab the supply box and the book.
I did not order the supplies from ARTistic Pursuits, but I may do so in the future because everything you need outside of some simple household supplies is included in the kit.
I believe the pricing is reasonable and a nice value because you can add the projects to your history studies and use the art in picture study. I also think it’s fairly easy to combine many children into one art history homeschool curriculum level. I added my oldest child to this study even though she’s probably ready for a more advanced course. However, we just spent more time and did a more extensive version of the project with her.
I also highly recommend doing these projects with your kids. Modeling the pursuit of a study is very important for your more reluctant children. My son, in particular, did not enjoy art until I started working alongside him. It gives him confidence to see Mama at the art table too.
You can also see what other homeschoolers are saying about ARTistic Pursuits K-3 Art Courses at The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog.
I’d love to hear your feedback on this review and if you decide to purchase this amazing resource. Be sure to leave a comment!