|The following complete review was written by JENNIFER B.:
February 17th, 2009
Homeschool Review: Spears Art Studio: K 8 Christian Art Curriculum, A Teacher’s Manual
by Diane S. Spears
I know that I’m not alone as a homeschooling mother who has an aspiring artist in her care. I’m not exceptionally talented artistically (that’s an understatement), and engaging my children in artistic instruction seems well beyond my abilities. Educator and artist Diane Spears wrote her Christian art curriculum precisely for teachers like me; those who’d like to provide fine arts instruction to their pupils but aren’t sure where to start.
Spears Art Studio: K 8 Christian Art Curriculum, A Teacher’s Manual appears daunting upon first encounter. Available on CD as a series of .pdf documents, the curriculum is hundreds upon hundreds of pages in length. 269 art activities, 138 patterns and display posters and 547 pages of instruction are provided in this multi-year program. It does take some time to familiarize yourself with the content. Starting with the introductory materials and working your way through them soon reveals the fact that Spears is dedicated to providing economical, scripturally integrated, art lessons that encourage evaluation skills, the study of art history and integration with other core subjects.
It soon becomes clear that the main thrust of the curriculum is for teachers in private Christian schools (the inclusion of sheets for lists of student grades, large class clean up tips etc. are the tip offs) but as homeschoolers know, it isn’t too difficult to adapt to smaller numbers of students. Something you will want to establish that schools will have in place is an art/craft supply cupboard. An extensive collection of readily available, affordable supplies is required for the program, but you will need a place to store and organize them for quick and easy access. Downloadable files of the required materials are available online for your perusal before purchase.
The curriculum is organized into 35 weekly themes that repeat through each of the grade levels, increasing in difficulty, scope and instruction as the year’s progress. Each lesson is integrated with scripture and applications to the Christian life; for parents who seek to integrate Christ into all they do, this is a serious factor to consider in select an art program. The beauty of the repeating themes is that families with children in an assortment of grades can use the same scripture, theme and introductory materials for all of their children varying the medium and skills taught as appropriate. The lessons are illustrated with actual examples of art, displaying the striking level of quality that is within reach for students using these lessons (even without the tutelage of an experienced artist).
The lessons are arranged seasonally within the traditional school year from September to May (one lesson is provided for each week). The themes explored each month are usually related to the seasons and major holidays found within the month. Families who choose not to celebrate these mainstream holidays may choose to skip certain weeks. At times strong patriotic, American themes are presented as Canadian’s we’d most likely pass by these weeks as well or substitute Canadian content. However, the vast amount of material presented for all grade levels makes the program a worthwhile purchase even if some lessons are not appropriate for your family.
The files are reproducible within one family or classroom. A detailed scope and sequence is provided to evaluate the objectives, skills and elements for each lesson according to grade level. A glossary of art terms is provided in the appendix, along with the original, general supply list.
Spears is obviously dedicated to making her program the best it can be. In response to customer input she has made additional files available for download online such as the supplies lists previously mentioned, an image resource packet a list of sources for the recommended art images for each weekly theme (with a focus on free websites) and an additional page on teaching drawing. Her commitment to continually revising, improving and adding to her product is a blessing the list of image sources online is a particular blessing and will save parents hours of internet search time. Spears’ talent as an artist is indisputable, the occasional inclusion of her own works of art throughout the course is inspiring, further examples can be found on her website.
I’m truly amazed by the effort that Spears has poured into this curriculum. Any Christian family looking for a serious fine arts program will be delighted with the thorough planning that has gone into the integration of biblical principles with the quality art projects. The price is amazing - $39.95 for the CD full of printable .pdf files including shipping. Due to the huge size the printed book/CD combo costs $134.95, so printing the curriculum yourself may be more affordable. I also have my eye on Spears’ calligraphy program - Beginning Calligraphy Workbook, for Grade 5 - Adult. The combination of scripture with artistic lettering has so much potential for wall-art; I just know I’ll be picking it up for myself in the future.
Free sample lessons for the K 8 are available for download here. For those of you with older children Spears Art Studio High School Art Survey, A Study from a Christian World View is available for $29.95.
The following complete review was written by JEN M.:
A Review of Spears Art Studio
Posted in Homeschool Adventures • Jan. 22, 2009
Up until now, art has always been a subject that we covered very haphazardly and with no plan at our house. I would typically wake up one day and think, "We should do an art project today." So, then, I would go and grab some art supplies from around the house, plunk them on the table, call the kids to come sit down, and just kind of wait to see what happened.
We received a CD of Spears Art curriculum, a complete art curriculum for K-8th grade. I was initially slightly overwhelmed by all of the projects included, but once I calmed down and realized that these were simply a large variety of options rather than a burdensome checklist of everything I needed to do, it was easier for me to handle. I like the cd format, because I don't need more paper cluttering up my house! However, if you are a person who prefers a hard copy, you can get that from them as well or print out hard copies yourself and put them in a notebook.
The lessons are organized around the calendar, which I like because it makes for great seasonal decorations as well as great art lessons! I also love that the curriculum is biblically based and focused on honoring God as our creator and reflecting His creativity by creating art. Another nice thing is that art appreciation is included right alongside the projects.
All of the projects can be completed with common art materials, so you don't have to hunt down obscure supplies. This is a huge help to me as a busy mom who doesn't always plan ahead to go out and buy supplies! The cd is $39.95, which comes out to less than $5 a year if used k-8th grade... I dont think I am going to find a better deal than that! I felt it was flexible, too, to fit a variety of homeschooling styles. A very structured family would likely appreciate all of the lesson plans and schedules of projects. A more spontaneous family like mine might just pick and choose projects as they went along. I feel it is a strength of the program that it could be used by pretty much anyone.
I would love to get it together enough to have art, music, foreign language, etc. all scheduled in to our regular homeschool week. But, for now, I am still struggling to just get all of the "basics" in! So, we will probably continue my haphazard method of the "Let's Do Some Art Today" approach. But, instead of running arund gathering supplies, plunking them on the table, and saying, "Go to it, kids!", I will have actual projects we can work on with some actual learning about art involved. So, for that, I thank Diane Spears for this great currciulum!
Spears Art has a wonderful website you can view here, and as always, take a look at the rest of the Crew's reviews here. Thanks!
THE FOLLOWING ARE EXCERPTS FROM COMPLETE REVIEWS:
Spears Art Studio was a great surprise to me as part of the TOS Review Crew! For years
I've looked for something simple to use and yet in-depth; something that gave me ideas
of activities to do with the children and also covered various artists and art styles; something
that didn't cost an arm and a leg or require a degree in art to teach . . .Here it is!
I think this is one of my favorite curriculum finds this year! Spears Art has great programs
for K-8 and also High School. Created by Dr. Diane Spears, artist and author, the program
comes on CD-Rom and is extremely easy to download and use. You can get a good idea
of their goals from their mission statement:
Heidi P. wrote:
First of all, this is a high-quality Christian art curriculum. Each lesson is tied into Scripture, making this a Bible and character development tool as well. However, it would not be an accurate statement to say this is just a Christian art curriculum. Also integrated into the lessons and projects are language, science, social studies, math and even music. For example, the first week of April’s water theme has the students learning some natural facts of water, relating earthly water to the water of the Spirit, and interpreting forms of water artistically. The related Scripture verse, Psalm 119:9, is about purity. Biblical stories about water, e.g. Jonah and Jesus calming the waters, are introduced. Vocabulary words, art and otherwise, are discussed, e.g. tempest, turbulent, pitch, refraction, and abstract. The privilege of Western society to have clean water and the importance that other societies have this same basic need prompt students to consider how they can assist ministries helping in this area. This is quite a bit of meat that is outside of the actual art project.
Michelle S. wrote:
...a well-designed, well-organized, thoroughly Christian in worldview, classical in methodology, easy to implement, Scripture-centered, seasonally arranged, wonderful art program, suitable for use in Christian private schools, homeschools, and homeschool co-ops--and yes, yes, yes, yes, and YES!...At first glance, it is a bit overwhelming, as some other art curricula have also seemed to me to be. Yet this is so well-organized, so packed with interdisciplinary information designed to make connections to other academic subjects, that it is really very usable....The thought which came to me as I began working through it and with the projects with my children is that Dr. Spears has done for art what Marcia Somerville and Tapestry of Grace did for history! Wow! Yes, this curriculum is packed like Tapestry of Grace is, and yes, it might overwhelm some moms who think they just have to do everything in it, but for most homeschool moms, it offers a wonderful buffet of art activities from which to choose. And it makes those connections between art and other school subjects, all the while laying the foundation of a strong Christian worldview with Scriptural emphasis--just like Tapestry of Grace....Further helps, such as art terms and definitions are given, art appreciation is included, and tips for analyzing artwork are also given so that mom can feel more confident in grading students in this subject. I don't know about you, but anytime I can find a rubric for grading a subject--especially a subject like art--I'm happy!
I LOVE IT! My kids LOVE it! I cannot say anything bad about this! We just love it. I like how in the intro we learned SO much about different things about art....If you are looking for a great art curriculum, then here it is!
Kimberly K. wrote:
As a former classroom teacher, this is the best art curriculum I have seen in it's amount of information given for both the teacher and student, it's ease of use, and it's engaging art activities.
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 framwork or into your art budget in any particular week or month....When I think of all the arts and crafts books I've purchased over the years, no one contains all of the components that Spears combines into this one product. Because the program is customizable, it is very versatile. And all the work (short of buying the needed supplies) has been done for me.
Candace C. wrote:
What I love about Spears Art curriculum is that it is Biblically based. She uses scripture verses in every lesson plan. I think this is truly exceptional! Our God is an artist…to take His very own words and tie them into the art and world we see around us is just perfect! I especially love the mission statement that is on the Spears site: to recognize the hand of God in everything and to give Him glory!
Sister Tipster wrote:
Art that Touches the Heart!...It's really the best I've seen! You can customize what you need like I'm doing to fit what you are teaching or use it as a seasonal study of art. I love art and have used OTHER things, but Spears is so comprehensive and easy to use!
Kathy D. wrote:
To start, I was pleased to find that Spears Art is presented from a Biblical worldview, with an emphasis on inspiration from God to create delightful works of art. The author clearly states she could not have created this CD/PDF curriculum had it not been the Lord who had guided her. She also ties in scripture to each of the weekly themes. I believe God is the finest example of an artist one can find, and it is important to me that my children learn that as they do art. The next thing that encouraged me was I could use this curriculum without having to buy costly art materials, and she does such an excellent job explaining what art is and how to use the different mediums, this is perfect for the average non-art background classroom teacher or homeschooling family. Most of the lessons can be completed with what is found around the house i.e. construction paper, markers, sharpies, oil pastels, beans, and glue....Overall this is a very comprehensive, professional package, and I am glad it came along when it did. We will be using it over the course of the year, and I'm sure for years to come as there's such a nice variety of projects to choose from. I think I just may have found my Holy Grail.
Kristin Nitz wrote
:Now here are the things I really liked most of all. For that week you have a kindergarten lesson and a lesson for 1st through 8th grade. Each one related to the other except skill level builds upon itself from grade to grade and year to year. And best of all it is Biblically based. Spears Art Studio uses scripture verses in every lesson plan. And best of all you can apply this curriculum without having to purchase expensive art supplies.
Julieanne M. wrote:
This program encourages families to look at prints and representations of popular artists that fit the theme and purpose of each particular lesson. Even families who can’t afford to purchase expensive art books or live too far from a library to check out many artist books can still find prints and artist information on the internet.
It seems to me that this is an all-encompassing art program from Bible passages to art history. You could probably even take it a step further and add geography to this as well by learning where the artists are from and when they lived, etc. The program can be fit to each family and their grades or interests - doing several art lessons in one week or only one (do whatever fits your family!). I can definitely see us using this art program for the next several years. With so many different art assignments each week, we probably won’t even finish them all by the time my children enter high school. That means I don’t have to buy an art curriculum for another 3-4 years which I really like. It saves me money, which is very important in today’s financially-stressed world.
Laura O. wrote:
This is one product with great longevity and you can customize as needed. Since my time is spread thin at times, being able to just pick a project from one of the younger grades for all three boys to do is a fantastic way to adapt the program. The boys have thoroughly enjoyed the weeks we have done so far and look forward to utilizing this curriculum in the years to come.
You can pick and choose how much or little you want to do in a given month or year. There is so much to do and you will have plenty of ideas to spread around for years to come. It is well worth the price and you don't have to keep buying more to have ideas.
Michelle L. wrote:
Question: What do you call a homeschool-compatible, comprehensive art curriculum that is taught with a Biblical worldview? Answer: A rare find!...This Biblically based art program to teach from home is a delightful find! I can see how this comprehensive curriculum might be a little intimidating at first glance because it is so thorough, but do not be discouraged! After a few days of familiarizing myself with the provided materials I could teach the lessons with confidence....It is a great course to use to give your children a discerning eye when making or evaluating art. Diane writes, "...high standards in art require three criteria: excellence in the execution of the art principles, excellence in the use of the materials, and excellence in the expression of a morally acceptable idea." I agree and wish for my children to develop all three skills. I believe Spears Art Studio K-8 Art Curriculum to be a worthy component for our family's homeschool, and I am so glad to have it!
Vickie B. wrote:
This is a wonderful program that even a novice "art teacher" can use. So very easy to understand and implement. You get a CD with the entire program on it. Print any or all the lessons you want for as many children as you may have in your "class".
A lot of time, thought and effort has gone into this program. It is much more than an art curriculum, it is a way to connect God to creativity. The author sees the value of art and the value of God. She believes that the art principle of creativity cannot be fully understood without learning about God. After all, He is the most creative being of all! I agree....Each lesson has very clear objectives. Teacher preparation is noted, motivation and focus for the lesson is listed, and there’s even a section for teacher inspiration in which a little background is given. I sure wish I had this program back when I taught art classes at the homeschool co-op. It would have cut down my research and preparation drastically!...So what do I think? I like it! My children have enjoyed the art projects, and I enjoyed not having to come up with them myself! I also enjoyed reading a bible verse in conjunction with the art lesson. The inclusion of art appreciation was also a plus for me. I think it is important for children to see works of art and it is wonderful that these lessons have been organized in such a way that artists and artworks are listed which coincide with the theme. I love all of the thorough introduction pages in which Diane Spears talks about the why’s of art. They are very educational and motivating.
Lynn P. wrote:
This is a wonderful program that even the craft/art challenged teacher/student can enjoy. Complete curriculum for all grades K-8 come on a CD. You print out only what you want to use. What I love about this program is it's set up with a lesson plan that is God centered and helps implement seasons such as Christmas, and Thanksgiving right into the lessons. So there is no need to set this aside for the holidays. You can use it right through.
Created by fine artist, Diane Shields Spears, the Spears Art Studio Curriculum provides the best of fine arts instruction and Christian education. First, I would recommend viewing Diane Spears art galleries and beholding her artistic talent and abilities first hand. She is truly a wonderful artist and has taught in both private and public school. You can view her artwork here: Diane Spears Art Galleries....For me, it is so important that the creator of the art program that I use not just teach about art from a degree that he or she obtained, but is an actual artist with hands on knowledge and experience. Her expertise is in my opinion, the defining factor that makes this course top of the line!...Now, after acknowledging her expertise, it is her mission statement that is astounding. The Spears Art Studio is completely Christ centered and Bible based and acknowledges that God is the ultimate artist and creator. The curriculum is presented in a classical style and is suitable from kindergarten to high school.
Susan A. wrote:
...you can use as much or as little of this curriculum as you like...if you prefer to just use the activities and skip the art appreciation until your children are older, go for it. Or, if you prefer to do the same activity with all different ages, most of these activities can be easily modified. I do think this is a valuable resource as most of the art programs I've seen tend to focus on one particular aspect of art, whether it be the technical part how to draw, paint, etc.) or how to appreciate it, this curriculum has it all in one package.
Kelly R. wrote:
One thing that I just absolutely must rave about is the fact that because each week is based on a theme, children of all ages can be included and you can do this together as a family. Instead of different themes for each different child, which may result in a very harried mother, everyone can focus on a common concept. This simplifies learning and does not make it more burdensome than necessary.
Jenny T. wrote:
As a teacher, I appreciate the skill needed to put together such a comprehensive program (along with benchmarks and objectives!). If she had used a secular backdrop, Dr. Spears could have reached a much broader market, but the fact that she chose to center her curriculum around the cross means alot to me! It tells me that she stands on her convictions! Art is truly a gift from God and Dr. Spears encourages us all to find our artistic sides in order to glorify Him.
TO SHOW HOW ADAPTABLE THIS CURRICULUM IS:
Noha Y. wrote:
Spears Art Studio is an art curriculum with a Christian twist. Every lesson has a verse from the bible inside it while some lessons (especially around Christmas and the like) are very faith-based. But most aren't and even those that are Christian themed can be easily twisted to suit Islam, such as a lesson drawing of prophet Jonah and the whale. The bible verse can be replaced by a verse from the Quran too or a hadith. Beyond that point, this art curriculum is doesn't take a crafty or amateurish approach at all, even at young grade levels. This is professional drawing instruction. It has ideas that are the foundation of true art and drawing techniques. That doesn't mean that it is not fun however, because it is! It just means that the instructions are weaved into the fun. I was simply amazed by the wealth of ideas for drawing, coloring and handiwork presented in this curriculum! This is definitely a RICH curriculum!
Amy A. wrote:
Somehow, Diane manages to cover everything in a very professional, legitimate way without it seeming too stilted or overwhelming for those with little experience teaching art. But those with art backgrounds would not feel "talked down" to either.
Tony S. wrote:
Half way down most theme pages is a section on art history and recommended images. I had no problem finding examples of the pieces using Google Images. PARENT NOTE: Find the images and download them before your class. Be careful of sending your kids on an art treasure hunt using Google Images. You’ll also find a “Teacher Inspiration” section which has some great suggestions for discussion topics and ways to present your lessons.
Meridel W. wrote:
You definitely do not need to have an art background to be able to do these projects with your family.