April 29, 2014

ARTistic Pursuits (a curriculum review)

My mother-in-law is an Art Major. Both of my children LOVE doing arts and crafts. I love arts and crafts too...but I really like it better when I have "a plan". LOL! I love guided art projects and have enjoyed reviewing art books. We've learned that Baby Britches is VERY arts and craft minded--and it's not just because he is a preschooler. He would do it all day long. I was excited to have the opportunity to review an art curriculum specifically for preschoolers called The Way They See It (Preschool) by ARTistic Pursuits.
ARTistic Pursuits Art Curriculum

What is ARTistic Pursuits?

ARTistic Pursuits Review
ARTistic Pursuits is an art curriculum company believing that all children are capable of understanding the concepts of art, and enjoy putting ideas and visual images on paper. They are committed to helping children become visually aware in our world and to be able to work creatively within it. They are determined to offer parents and children a quality art education presented in an easy to understand format for both the teacher and child.

Through their program, they encourage children to look at the expressive and technical aspects of art according to their age level. The goal is for the children to be able to be free to explore their world however they see it...not the way that adults think they should see it!

ARTistic Pursuits offer curriculum for Preschool to High School age making it easy for you to find a curriculum just right for your school age child.
ARTistic Pursuits Review
Each book has a comb binding, is non-consumable and sells for $47.95. 
One set can serve your entire family.
ARTistic Pursuits recently released two additional books for their art curriculum family: 
These books are recommended for ages 11-18 and sell for $47.95 each like the other books. 
ARTistic Pursuits Review
The book I am reviewing The Way They SEE It (Preschool) also sells for $47.95. It contains 26 lessons plus 10 additional projects and is written for the child age 3-5.

How Did We Use It?

The first thing I did when we received the book was flip to the table of contents page to get an idea for what kind of art lessons would be included.
It is very simply laid out. The first column tells you about the lesson and then second column shares what kind of art project will be done with it.

It was VERY useful to find a page that talks about all the supplies that are needed to complete this curriculum. They list some specific brand names, but also encourage you to make your own fingerpaint or dough too.
I was able to use this list to make sure I had everything I was going to need for the curriculum. Most of them are normal art supplies for school though you need a few special papers. I really liked that if you just wanted to buy it all together you could buy the Preschool Art Pack right off of ARTistic Pursuits website that has the complete collection of supplies you need for each book. I was able to just piece together a few of the supplies that I needed but didn't have. I admit--I was very excited to have a reason to buy a new box of 96 crayons and smelly-good markers!

I decided that the best way to go about starting using this curriculum was just to start with the first lesson. Each lesson is three parts: Information to the parent on children's development in art (called Grown-up Talk), the lessons for the child including some sort of visual art element (Picture Talk) and then the actual art project for the child. 

Each time we were doing a lesson I always read over the Grown-up Talk first, then I looked over the lesson and project for the day. I prepped by just pulling out whatever we were going to need for the project. 

As soon as I told Baby Britches we were going to do art, he flew over to the table. His eyeballs got huge seeing the big box of crayons. "For me??!" He was very excited when I told him it was.

The first lesson included having me show him a beautiful painting (circa 1620!!) of a flower bouquet and encouraged him to notice the colors of the flowers. Then the dialogue asks the child to find other details from the painting, like the shells and small bugs. He naturally noticed most of these without me even asking him. Once I started asking questions he just started talking about everything relating to the illustration.

Once I figured we had analyzed the painting enough, we moved on to the art project itself. This first lesson was a drawing lesson using crayons. The goal--for him to be inspired by what he saw in the painting and draw what he sees. 

The first response to my instruction was: "I tan't! You need help me do it."

I guided him to look at the picture and find some crayons that matched the colors he saw. So he eagerly opened up his new box of crayons and picked a few colors. Then while having the book open to the drawing next to him, I encouraged him to find things about the painting to add to his paper. Once he got started, I didn't have to offer him much more assistance. It helped him that I had my own paper and I was doing the same thing next to him.

You can see that his version of the painting isn't quite a match...so to encourage him to share what he drew, I took a video of him telling me about it. Thanks to allergies he had a stuffy nose, but you can understand him pretty well.

I was impressed that he found the lines in the photo from the stems of the flowers and the little straight grassy things...And did you catch that there was a dinosaur on there too? LOL!

We completed about one or two lessons per week so we were able to hit on several of the lessons in the book. Here are some photos (and videos) of the lessons we worked on--we jumped around so we could try different materials:

Lesson 2: The Sky I See Project

(I had to smile when he pointed out his Kangaroo Cloud...)

Lesson 3: Mark-Making Project (Fingerpaint)
We made our own fingerpaint and Little Britches had to do it too
Lesson 4: Dough Project 
We loved the dough project and working with our playdough. It was my first time making it from scratch. I used an incredibly easy recipe from fellow Schoolhouse Review Crew member Dusty @To the Moon and Back for our dough. Each boy got their own color and it was so soft and malleable. We ended up playing with this for about 90 minutes that day.

Lesson 5: Identifying Colors Project

Lesson 7: Sounds Project
I read "The Little Steam Engine that Could" and he colored a picture to match what I was reading.

Lesson 10: Impressions Project
We used our homemade dough and rolled it flat with dowels. I brought Baby Britches a collection of items and had him push them into the dough to see what kind of impressions they made. We did a gumball seed pod, a pokey rubber ball, dice, impressed pennies, and more.

Lesson 11: Favorite Things Project

I am most proud of this project. It was his first ever actually drawing of a vehicle. For this one, he had to draw what he saw looking at his favorite toys. This is a picture of an orange cement mixer and a John Deere tractor.

Lesson 16: Puppet Project
His finished puppet makes me giggle. He loved having all the materials to choose from. And that he got to cut all his paper.

What Are My Thoughts About ARTistic Pursuits?

* Guided Curriculum w/lesson
* Complete Material List included AND no expensive materials (for our preschool book)
* Partnered with an online art materials site for easy purchasing of the art supplies with just a single click
* Different types of art projects from doodling to sensory (fingerpaint/dough) to craft (puppet) to paint
* Includes recipes for homemade paints and dough
* Introduces child to real artists work (the Picture Talk) in each lesson
* Non-consumable
* Comb Binding
* Includes section on just teaching basic skills like cutting or holding a pencil/crayon properly
* Open Ended to allow you to add more child led dialogue
* Lessons can be done in any order


In summary, this curriculum is very well done. Everything is laid out very clearly and concise. By pre-reading each lesson you know exactly what you need and what to do. Each lesson is short and easy to understand. There is a full range of art projects to be completed that can be done over and over if you desire. The book is non-consumable which means you can use it for your family without needing to purchase more. The materials called for in the book are all already on hand, or are easy to acquire with little cost. There is enough guidance that someone who needs lesson plans can be happy, but there is limited dialogue to encourage the child led art which is great for those who prefer child led education. 

In all fairness, the only con I can come up with would be the price. For some families, paying $47.95 for an art curriculum book might be expensive. But when you consider that the book is non-consumable and able to be used for a wide range of students, and that it has guided lessons it is a very good buy. At first glance I wasn't sure if the price was worth it, but after using it I have changed my mind. I let my mother-in-law (the Art Major) look it over and she put her stamp of approval on it too for it's completeness in teaching, not just expression in art, but where the creativity comes from in the world around us.

Would I Recommend ARTistic Pursuits?

If you find that you are lacking a good art curriculum, and are seeking something beyond the normal cut/paste/color art projects, ARTistic Pursuits is an excellent choice for you. If you want to incorporate the technical side of art with the expressive to give a more complete art education, then this is the curriculum for you. If you have several children within a close age group, but only want to buy one book for them all, this curriculum is right for you. If you are looking for a frugally priced curriculum, then this might not be for you if the price is the number one thing you are considering.

I plan on considering other books in the ARTistic Pursuits collection for our family. I love that they go all the way up to the High School level and are structured enough for me to use as a lesson plan instead of flying by the seat of my pants! I find it very handy that they have partnered up with an online art materials company to make sure you can easily get whatever is needed for each book. 

You can learn more about ARTistic Pursuits by visiting them at their Facebook Page. If you want to check out the books in more detail, you can visit their website. They have shared pages from each book so that you can see what they are all about before you invest.

Well you know what my thoughts on the book The Way They See It (Preschool) from their curriculum...how about seeing some of the other books from this awesome company? Just click the banner below to read more reviews on ARTistic Pursuits!

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