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An art education can benefit children in many ways. Art projects can help a child 1) learn to express themselves through various mediums, 2) develop fine motor and visual spatial skills, and 3) improve attention skills. Art Achieve is a standards-based art curriculum for children. This article reviews the Level 1 art classes from Art Achieve. I received online access to Art Achieve’s Level 1 art classes in exchange for writing this review.
Art Achieve has a series of art lessons that are accessed by subscription to their site. You can buy single lesson(s) or an entire level. After purchase, you will have access to the lesson(s) for one year. Each lesson includes a video presentation and a power point presentation of the content. You can choose which presentation format (video or powerpoint) is a best fit for your situation. The National Standards for Arts Education that align with each lesson are included in the presentation. The lessons begin with a warm-up activity, tie in to other curricular areas, such as science or social studies, and have a step-by-step demonstration of the project.
Since I have autistic children, I had to made some adaptations to the lessons.
General Lesson Adaptations
The first change we did was to shorten the warm-up activity. The warm-up activity sheets include 6 copying activity sections. I cut the sections apart and had my children pick one to try.
Next, we only viewed the power point version of the lesson. With the power point version, I could show them the slide for the step we were on and progress to the next step when they were ready. I was also able to easily skip slides that were not relevant to them (such as the ones including the National Standards for Arts Education).
The lessons include some meditation and music recommendations. The meditation is supposed to occur prior to drawing and is intended to improve the child’s focus. The suggested music is to be played while completing the art project and is also intended to improve the child’s focus. From previous experience with my children, I knew these conditions would not be a good fit. They are very opposed to quiet focusing activities like Yoga or meditation. My children also have noise sensitivities and find any noise (including music) distracting rather than improving focus. I just left these parts out of our art activities.
Lesson Specific Adaptations
In Lesson 1-8: The Kitenge Tree, students are supposed to crinkle up their papers and then uncrinckle them as part of the project. In my daughter’s mind, this step would have been ruining her picture, so she skipped the crinkling.
The project on the left is the work of my 4 year old. He actually crinkled his paper before the crinkling step in frustration. It is common for him to become upset when his hands will not do what his mind wants. With his permission, I un-crinkled his drawing and painted as directed.
In Lesson 1-9: The Plate from Nepal, students are supposed to complete the project on a disposable plate. Instead of using a plate (mostly because I did not have any on hand but also because I also did not want my 2-year old to see us coloring on plates), we drew a circle on a piece of paper.
Benefits of using Art Achieve
My 5 year old daughter loves doing art and really enjoyed the lessons. She liked how the drawing portion was broken down in small steps so she could get usually get the results she wanted.
The included art standards may be helpful for teachers who have to include national learning standards in their lesson plans.
The focus of the art activities is the process. Special “rules” and “tips” are included to help the teacher provide positive feedback to the children and for the children to focus on enjoying the experience.
As both a video demonstration and a power point presentation are included with each lesson, you can easily pick the format that will be the most helpful for your child.
My 8 year old does not like directed activities. When he participated, he wanted to draw things his own way. If you have a child who does not like directed step-by-step activities, Art Achieve may not be a good fit for them. I would consider this to be a reluctant learner issue rather than an actual limitation of this art curriculum.
The materials list for each art lesson is included in the power point presentation and in the video demonstration. The Art Achieve website also has a chart of the materials needed for each lesson. This chart does not include the type of paper needed for the projects. When I went to start some of the lessons, I did not have all of the materials needed. I had multi-media art paper on hand, but did not have the glossy paper recommended for some projects.
Final Recommendations on Art Achieve
Art Achieve is an elementary art curriculum that can be used with children of all ages. The art process is broken down step-by-step in the power point presentations or demonstrated by an artist in the video option. Warm ups and tips to make art a positive experience for the young artist are included. I enjoyed completing the level 1 lessons with my children and would recommend this program to others. If you are interested in trying out Art Achieve, several lessons are available for free.