Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I'm forgetting something, I just know it.

I've come to realize there are 2 things that we are missing and / or doing poorly in our homeschool.  Read aloud books and Art. 

I don't know how it got forgotten, but I just don't read aloud to Amber for school.  We take turns reading aloud her story for the week in her reading lesson book, so at least it isn't a total loss. However, I completely missed the boat on the read aloud books portion. It never even crossed my mind.  Amber is such an independent reader and reads around an upper 8th grade level (in 4th grade) that I forgot that it is sometimes just fun to hear someone else read a story to you.

This was not brought to my attention by Amber, who has actually been missing the read aloud time from school.  I realized it during my research for her fifth grade assigned reading books.  I want to make sure she is reading good literature too and not only what she finds entertaining or the story excerpts in her school reading book.  I also remembered about all the books we have around our house. I know, it's hard to believe that I forgot about them considering we have massive bookshelves in several rooms.  What I mean is that I forgot what books are on the shelves.  We have a small library of books that are considered de-rigueur for upper elementary and middle school students in our house  We definitely need to select some to use.

Starting this week, I am trying very hard to do some read aloud with Amber. I don't foresee it happening every day since we just aren't used to it yet.  I'll get us there, or at least mostly there.  We may even use some of the books I have on my "required reading" list as read alouds.  There are some that I think it would be best that she reads and then we discuss.  Still, it just shows how you can have exactly what you need at home and not even realize it.

Having said that, I am still looking into discussion guides for some of the books Amber will be reading next year.  I have read all the books that I plan on using, but I'd like an outline of possible discussion topics.  I know, it sounds silly.  I'm not entirely confident in my abilities to ensure she she gets everything she can or needs from homeschool.  I really like curriculum that guides me through the subjects or at least outlines a few key points.  Any good discussion guides for Middle School reading?

The other problem we are having this year is Art.  Have I mentioned that I am not artistically inclined?  Perhaps I should mention that I am art challenged, or even totally incapable.  Our art class for this partial year was to be crafts and other projects that we have around the house.  We quite often run out of time for art and even more frequently it's that something else, almost anything else, seems more fun.  It's weird because we both really like doing crafts.  I LOVE to cross stitch and quilt.  Amber loves any craft that lets her feel creative.  Neither of us like drawing or being told how to do our projects.

Amber is just as bad at drawing as I am. To say she lacks talent is insulting the people who merely lack talent.  She has a bad attitude toward it as well because a large part of her Art class in the parochial schools had been based on drawing.  Many other children in her classes excelled in drawing and, unfortunately, they felt the need to belittle the children who were not as gifted in drawing.  Now, Amber doesn't even care to attempt drawing.

I don't think I can salvage Art class for this year.  It is just going to be the hit-or-miss craft projects that we've been doing.  Next year, however, I would like to make it a more formal class.  I'd love to include art appreciation or art history as well.  As lacking in talent as I am, I absolutely love art history and appreciation.  I could spend all day in an art museum.  If possible, I want this same love for Amber.  She may never be able to express herself through drawing or other artistic mediums, but I want her to be able to appreciate and love the art that is around her.

I'm trying to find a curriculum that I feel may help with art.  Something that does include art history / appreciation but also attempts to teach us woefully incompetent artists a thing or two about creating our own art.  I've been looking around and everything keeps coming back to ARTistic PursuitsIt seems to be a very worthy curriculum, and in the grand scheme it isn't terribly expensive.  It is a little pricey though for me to take a gamble with.  I just wish I had a better chance to look at the books themselves instead of only through the web.  I've been disappointed recently by somethings I bought online that had the "peek in the book" feature.  I purchased only to find out that the part I peeked at was the only useful part.

So again, does anybody have any art curriculum they feel might meet our needs?  Or maybe any glowing and detailed reviews of ARTistic Pursuits?


  1. We have artistic pursuits 4th-6th grade book 1. It's lots of drawing and I feel assumes a bit of knowledge or knack for it. If not exactly that, I feel that I'd quickly become discouraged if it wasn't for other art materials we use in conjunction with this curriculum. I'd really recommend Usborne Art Skills or the like at first- check out your local library. They have a lot more mediums to work with and are more laid back. Check it out at your library and try a few!

    Another highly recommended resource is Drawing With Children by Mona Brooks. There are a few blogs out there that help break down the lessons for you. I found the advice and motivation more worth the read than the actual lessons in there...I like total freedom or else something planned out and fairly open and go. In between stuff bothers me!

    Mark Kistler online video art lessons have been fun- I feel it helps them learn about some simple drawing terms and let kids bridge the gap between doodling and drawing in a fun way. We enjoy his mini lessons before our regular drawing time. It might be a fun way for your dd to get back to that 'safe place' of drawing and doodling...to not have an expectation for the outcome to look like anything real.

    I think some of the best art appreciation books are the Come Look With Me series...again- find at the library.

    Hope something in there helps- I have been following your blog for a week or two and enjoy reading about another family with an only! My dd is 8 1/2...will be 9 end of May.

    I'd be happy to answer any other specific questions you may have about the Artistic Pursuits curriculum!

  2. Sarah, Thanks so much! I have read a little bit about Mark Kistler too, but I wasn't sure how video lessons would go. It really couldn't hurt to take a look, especially if they are fun.

    You confirmed a lot of my fears about Artistic Pursuits. It did indeed look to be something that assumed you had some drawing experience or talent. I am so afraid it will frustrate my little girl.

    I will have to go take a look at the Come Look With Me series. Thanks for the recommendation. We just ordered an iPad (arriving Friday) and I've been trying to find art appreciation apps for it. Most of them appear to be specific to individual artists. That's great, but still leaves me the job of deciding who we will study. I might have to dig out my college art appreciation book and start there.

    Thanks for following along with the blog too. Your dd is just a year younger than mine. Aren't only girls fun?