Saturday, November 1, 2008

TOS Homeschool Crew Review: Spears Art Studio

Spears Art Studio

SPEARS ART STUDIO K-8 CHRISTIAN ART CURRICULUM, A TEACHER'S MANUAL© CD-Rom in PDFfull color pages in PDF booklets$44.95 shipping included

Comprehensive and Customizable—they’re two words I used to describe another recent item, and yet, these words summarize the Spears Art Studio as well.

Perhaps I am more shortsighted than most homeschooling parents, (I *am* quite new to homeschooling, after all) but researching and purchasing an art curriculum was not high on my list of needs or wants at home. (What was I thinking?) I consider myself a bit on the “artistic-impaired” side, never quite feeling competent at art. I was curious about an art curriculum when I was offered the opportunity to use and review the Spears Art Studio K-8 Christian Art Curriculum that is developed by artist Diane Shields Spears, EdD.

And I am impressed! (Sample lessons are here, if you'd like to take a look.)

The CD is quite comprehensive, providing support to a parent and/or teacher so that a quality art curriculum can be delivered to students who fit a wide range of ages and developmental stages, and the curriculum can be used for several years to teach students as they develop. The CD is also customizable, so that the parent or teacher can use all of it, from the year-long project, to the art history, to the “how-to’s”, to the activities and assignments, or the parent/teacher may take a bit from here and a bit from there as it fits into an existing educational framework or into your art budget in any particular week or month.

Anything that would save me time and research, it seems, Spears has provided here, including supply lists; background and supplemental resource recommendations; scripture tie-ins; science; artwork as a writing prompt; vocabulary, art, academic and theme objectives. Spears recommends a wide variety of materials and media and she lists needed supplies each month so parents and teachers can be prepared for the projects ahead. Spears’ recommended images from your local library from the art history section each month remind me of the importance that Charlotte Mason placed on picture studies, and here, in one place, Spears gives us all that we need to experience and expand upon picture studies.

As hesitant as I’ve been to move to e-books, e-classes, and materials on CD-Rom, I have enjoyed the ease and speed of scrolling through the monthly table of contents to look for activities that fit our current homeschool objectives, and Spears has given me many ideas for broadening the scope of what we do at home. (I have put off starting a picture study, not quite feeling competent to begin, and now I know that I have the resources for a meaningful picture study!) I also like the fact that the small CD takes up less room than a bunch of books!

Working at home with a child on the autism spectrum, in addition to gaining inspiration for picture studies, ideas for copywork from scripture related to the art projects, I have found many useful projects and activities that can be used as background activities for relationship objectives. The way Spears creatively uses what RDIers refer to as “same but different” (variations on a theme) is very useful for us. I am always looking for activities and projects that are appealing to all my children as something we can do together, and this CD is packed with those kinds of ideas. There are projects that provide fine motor work, projects that require the coordination of two people together (co-regulating and coordinating) some to do alone (more of a parallel play type project).

When I think of all of the arts and crafts books I’ve purchased over the years, not one contains all of the components that Spears combines into this one product. Because the program is customizable, it is very versatile. And all of the work (short of buying the needed supplies) has been done for me. For $45, Spears gives us a great value!

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