Not Just Another Art Program

We have been a part of a wonderful creativity-inspiring weekly homeschooling art co-op with two other families. This group became a perfect platform for reviewing ArtAchieve.’s Entire Level II.

Kragel ArtBefore bringing ArtAchieve to my homeschooling art co-op, I did my due diligence and ensured that I would not be violating any copyright laws by sharing the lessons in a group format. I received a quick response from the artist/owner that was personal and thoughtfully written. He gave me permission to use the program in our co-op  and informed me that oftentimes teachers use the program a classroom setting. I thought this was very generous as their packages were already affordable. For example, the Level ll package is $53 for a 1-year license and includes 14 complete art lessons (additional single and bundled purchasing options are also available).

The Lessons

Two formats are offered for the presentation of the lesson. You can either follow a PowerPoint version or a video version that is taught by the artist John Hofland. Each lesson centers around a unique culturally-rich item that was collected during the artists global travels. He takes the time to introduce the students to the item, explaining where it is from and offers cultural tidbits. The lessons include additional studies links  in Science, Social Studies and Language Arts to  help students to make connections between the world they see around them and their art.

Rules for Drawing

The lessons follow the same format beginning with the item description and its cultural significance. Next, the students are taught how to take a moment to relax before beginning their art. The Rules for Drawing are then covered, which seemed to help the students to further relax and approach their art from a creative standpoint instead of an attempt at perfection. The step by step detailed drawing instructions broke down the process into simple and easy to follow steps allowing all ages to be able to follow along and achieve success.

After the drawing was complete suggestions for coloring or decorating the drawing are given. This was another area where cultural significance is discussed and the students are taught to view this as an opportunity to bring more than just some color to their piece.

Our Experience

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Our weekly art co-op consists of ten children ranging from 3-15 years old. We found that each of our children thoroughly enjoyed their art time. They celebrated the process, learned about different cultures and took pride in their art. The best part of our experience is that each child, regardless of age, was able to follow along and gained confidence in their artistic abilities.

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Together, we completed three of the projects; The Japanese Goldfish, The Ukrainian Rooster and The Czech Cat (which is always available for FREE). Each of our lessons have been a complete success. My personal favorite was the Ukrainian Rooster, their art pieces were colorful and lively. It seemed like the creativity of the children increased with that particular lesson, possibly as a result of all of us having chickens.

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The Downside

Everything has a downside, even a program that has provided a means to inspire our children to pursue art in a meaningful way. The downside to this incredible art program is that I have to figure out which art pieces I will put on display. With three students in my home, I have quickly run out of room and have found myself with a lot of wonderful artistic pieces to choose from. We already have framed original art throughout our house by our budding artists and will need to get an additional frame for each of them to choose one to bring life to our walls. The rest will have to go into an art portfolio. The kids have also considered using their pieces as gifts for family members which is a great way to share their art with others.

Looking Ahead

Bookworm Beauty is the artist in our family and we are planning a canvas party to celebrate her birthday. We intend to utilize one of the ArtAchieve lessons as the central activity. The lessons are laid out so well that we anticipate a lively and colorful room full of adolescent girls that have gained a sense of artistic success and creativity.

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Getting to the Root of Learning: A Review

We have thoroughly enjoyed reviewing various products and curriculum over the last several months, many have been well timed, much needed, or just plain fun. Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin: Derivatives I by Laurelwood Books has been all of those things!

When Princess and Angel were in fifth grade (in a public school) they both had a teacher that ended up becoming their favorite and most influential teacher. One of the most memorable things that he did was toss out the standard spelling curriculum and incorporated Latin and Greek root word studies instead. Over the years, that one single change in their education proved to become a valuable tool. They were able to look at many unfamiliar words and figure out their meanings simply by understanding how to break down the word and decipher it.

Olim, Once Upon a Time, Latin/English Derivative II have kept this in the back of my mind over the years and looked forward to finding ways to incorporate the root word studies in Bookworm Beauty’s education. Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin: Derivatives I has proved to be an excellent starting point to making that happen!

To start with, the soft-covered workbook is perfectly sized at 8.5 x 11 inches and is manageable at 143 pages. It may seem silly, but the cover itself has a soft silkiness to it which literally makes you want to hold the book. Again, it may be silly but Bookworm Beauty loves to feel it… which means she holds it… which means she wants to work in it… which means she is taking initiative and I do not have to enforce this study.

13620736_10153689413602227_7137094637812949312_nFor us, another benefit is that Bookworm Beauty desires to learn other languages. We were just entering our summer mode when the workbook arrived. Being that she likes to use workbooks over the summer (or anytime really) it was a perfect fit for a summertime study.

The workbook begins with a  single-page Notes for the Teacher, recommending that students do not rush through Derivatives but instead to take two weeks per lesson; allowing 30 weeks to cover 15 lessons. The next section introduces the students on Roman Numerals and How to Pronounce Latin. Unlike English, in Latin every letter or group of letters has a unique sound, making pronunciation of words specific. This is a great thing for a student and allows them to build confidence in their pronunciation of words as they are not left wondering if they actually said it correctly.

Each lesson follows the same format. The lesson begins with vocabulary and introduces the student to ten Latin Words, their meaning and English derivatives. For example, the first word taught is: Latindicere, dicit, dixit (v); meaningto say, (he says), (he) said; derivatives diction, dictionary. Students then trace the vocabulary words, meanings and derivatives on a worksheet that has lightly printed dotted-cursive text then completes a fill-in-the-blank story sheet. There are then six different exercises: two fill in the blank activities, connect the derivative to the Latin word, multiple choice, crossword puzzle and an opportunity to write a story using the ten Latin words introduced.

Overall, at $22.95 for the workbook, it would be a great addition to a child’s education – regardless of whether homeschooled or educated elsewhere. Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin: Derivatives I is developed primarily for fifth to sixth graders. Bookworm Beauty is entering sixth grade and I found it to be a perfect fit for her at this age. She has completed her lessons entirely self-directed and has fully enjoyed it.

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