What it is:
ArtAchieve offers five levels of art classes. Each of the 11 lessons in Level I have PowerPoint and video versions to choose from (except the very first introduction lesson about simple lines, which just has a PowerPoint option). Each lesson shares the inspiration for the product, goals for the lesson, a warm up activity that uses an included printable page, rules for drawing (such as “There is no right or wrong way to draw. One drawing is not better than another. It’s just different — because the people who are drawing are different.” ), step-by-step detailed drawing instruction, direction for coloring in the drawing with whichever medium the lesson is featuring, and reflection questions.
The lesson pages inform you what supplies are required and approximately how much time the lesson requires to complete – broken down into time to draw and time to color, in case you want to spread the project out over multiple days. The lesson pages also include suggestions for cross-curricular connections for subjects such as geography, social studies, art (famous artists, etc) literature, music, writing, architecture, science and more. These sections often include links to make including these subjects effortless on your part!
In Level I, all but four of the lessons can be completed with just paper, a black marker (though we actually just used a pen), markers, and a paper plate for one lesson. A couple of these seven also include tips for using paint pens, one has two separate lessons available – one for markers and one for acrylic paints, and one has instruction for using oil pastels and watercolors but mentions that younger kids may want to just use markers. For the other four lessons you’ll need acrylic paints and paintbrushes, oil pastels, watercolors, and a charcoal white pencil. (Though technically I suppose you could choose to color them all in with just markers if you wanted.)
How we’ve been using it:
We tried both the video and PowerPoint lessons. The videos had more flavor, if you will. You get to see the kindly grandfather-ish man do each of the steps with you, and he adds smidgens of additional information that aren’t in the PowerPoint. Nothing crucial, but nice to have nonetheless. Because of that, we ended up mostly using just the videos for the first time through a lesson, and then Artist used the PowerPoint lessons to go back through and re-do them numerous times in order to make each of her final products slightly different. The videos clearly presented the entire lesson to the extent that I could hand my girls the supplies, log them in to the lesson, and then walk away. #coffeebreakforme 😉
What we think:
ArtAchieve is a huge hit! We planned to do art lessons once a week, but my girls beg to do them much more often than that.
I LOVE that someone else is teaching art to my girls!
Honestly, art is the one subject that I’ve felt like my girls are missing out on because they don’t go to public school with a real art teacher. I’ve bought numerous art books that we’ve had varying measures of success with, but I’ve always felt fumbly and blech when I try to teach from them. Plus it’s super difficult for me to try to teach something like art with a toddler and baby in tow.
These videos made the teaching aspect a non-issue. And they’re effective as well. Artist has been able to create some very lovely works (in my opinion), and definitely showed improvement over projects she’d been able to create on her own. And she LOVES doing the lessons again and again!
I also really love the emphasis that is placed on every work of art being unique and not comparing your picture to anyone else’s because Boo is younger than Artist so her skill just isn’t quite on the same level. Plus she really loves to put her own twist on things, like making her dragon breathe fire rather than having a tongue.
In the past the two of them have gotten into arguments about whose picture was better, but the rules of drawing that are reiterated in each lesson have really put the kibosh on that.
With ArtAchieve we’ve also had much greater success with the girls feeling proud of the artwork they make!
I know that’s due, in part, to the fact that they’re actually being better equipped to successfully create the picture they’re attempting to make.
I mean, don’t get me wrong – the videos are rather unlikely to miraculously create highly skilled artists out of kids whose current skill level = less impressive than my two year old’s ability to cut every piece of paper she sees into tiny scraps and scatter them everywhere. 😉
But I’ve definitely seen improvement in the final products my girls have created.
That said, I think the girls’ pride in their artwork is also partially due to the atmosphere of the lessons. The rules that are presented each lesson include wisdom like, “It’s okay not to like everything you draw. Even famous artists do not like everything they create.” And, “Remember to draw for yourself, not for your teacher or your classmates.” Plus the teacher in the videos emphasizes that he is going to do things a certain way but you are free to make some different choices, and the language he uses always feels very approachable and non-judgmental.
I also like the fact that these lessons don’t require a lot of expensive supplies the way some art lessons do.
The lessons themselves aren’t too pricey either, which is quite fortunate since I’m pretty sure Artist will beg me relentlessly for the Level II lessons as soon as she finishes Level I…and I’ll gladly get them for her because I’m so relieved to finally have the means to provide her with quality art instruction! 😀
Also, be sure to check out the other Schoolhouse Review Crew reviews of ArtAchieve, including reviews of Levels II and III!