Finding an art history program suitable for elementary age children can be difficult. Often, when it comes to art history, the curriculum is stuffy, wordy, and altogether boring for little ones. Now, I’m not talking about art appreciation, that is something entirely different and is easily done at any age. I am strictly referring to art history, more specifically, American Art History.
Set includes three books:
American Art History, Vol. I
American Art History: Volume I, is arranged chronologically beginning with the prehistoric period and is divided into 16 chapters. The term prehistoric always raises a red flag for me as we are a young earth believing family. Time frames like “between 11,500 and 8,000 B.C” are referenced throughout the first chapter. Does this mean that we can’t use the curriculum? Of course not! Because this is something we do together as a family, with me reading aloud from the book, I simply skip over those parts.
Each chapter is written in a newspaper style format and introduces one or two pieces of art. Some of the chapters take an article with ads shape and others are written like an interview. Instead of being a fact-filled book, the newspaper style lends to a more conversational or light and easy tone. Below you can see an example of chapter 16: The Art of Gilbert Stuart.
Comedy is sprinkled throughout the lessons. At first, I was a bit put off by the silliness. But then I realized it had two benefits – 1) my kids enjoyed it! It cracked them up and often lead to them asking me to reread certain parts (hello repetition!). And 2) because they enjoyed looking at the pictures and listening to the silly stories, they look forward to our next lesson. That in and of itself is a huge feat. I primarily used this for my two first graders.
The chapters conclude with Forgery games. The games are simple enough that even my three-year-old can play. To play, you compare the real work of art to the “forgery” on the facing page and try to find ten differences. The game teaches children to enjoy studying art and encourages them to thoroughly examine each piece with a scrutinizing eye. By spending time comparing two images, students spend time studying the art in close detail.
Volume 1 contains:
- Prehistoric Art
- Mound Builder Art
- Native Southwestern Art
- Iroquois Art
- Taino Art
- John White
- Early Virginian Art
- Colonial Portraiture
- Matthew Pratt
- Spanish Colonial Architecture
- Benjamin West
- John Singleton Copley
- Paul Revere
- Charles Wilson Peale
- Raphael Peale
- Gilbert Stuart
The drawing book helps students recreate the art themselves. Each chapter in the book provides a drawing project for the corresponding chapter in the main book. The step-by-step instructions are wonderful! The drawing book also includes reproducible templates at the back of the book that has the first step already drawn to ensure correct size and placement of the drawing. You also have the option of downloading the templates from a web address in the book. Here’s an example of the step-by-step instructions.
American Art Bingo, Vol I
This is the companion game for the curriculum but it can also be used as a standalone game. We received the book form but it is also available as full size 8.5″ by 11″ flashcards. The book is disposable because you need to tear it apart in order to play the game. This is probably my least favorite part of the curriculum. Not the game itself, but the layout of the book. You have to tear out the pages, but they aren’t perforated. Once torn out you can easily laminate them, making the pages more sturdy. But for someone like me who inevitably rips whatever I’m trying to tear out of a book, perforation is a must.
Some more samples for you.
- 32 color flashcards
- 20 color bingo cards (10 usable at any one time because they are double-sided)
The play of this game is just like regular bingo.
I was surprised by how much the kids like this program. The multi-sensory way it is taught really appeals to all learning styles. I suspect it would work well in a small group setting, like a homeschool coop, as well. The collective pieces of art the kids make will be an impressive portfolio. This is definitely something we will continue to do.
The bundle is available for $64.49 ($25.36 savings) and individual pricing is as follows:
- American Art History: Volume I $39.95
- Drawing American Art: Volume I $29.95
- American Art Bingo: Volume I $19.95
*I received these items in exchange for my honest opinion and this review. No other compensation was given.*