As homeschoolers, we have the awesome opportunity to ensure our children continue to receive “extras” like art appreciation. We also often have the challenge of finding time (and money!) to include such extras.
I know how much you want to give your kids the best education at home that you can. To help you on your journey, I share here my frugal approach to art appreciation-using works in the public domain.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert in legal use of printed materials. I have done a lot of research into reprinting public domain works. My caution to you-always make sure to thoroughly read the copyright license on all works you reuse-even with personal use in your own home. Writers and artists work extremely hard to create their content-and deserve attribution!
We began our homeschool journey 4 years ago. I knew that I wanted to include an art appreciation component to our at home learning. My older 2 boys had been in public school for a few years and I was not thrilled with their art education.
My belief is that even if an individual can barely make a stick figure that it is still vitally important to have an appreciation for art. (edsource.org agrees!) There are so many different genres, periods, and works to study! The ability to look at and value a work of art is invaluable (in my humble opinion!)
My boys had been taught in a very rigid style at school. “You must do steps A, B, and C-in that exact order and exactly how I did it!” (I could go on and on here with their negative experiences…but I will spare you that!)
I am not an artist nor art teacher; I imagine that some of this approach is helpful in teaching certain skills and techniques. But, I think the “why” and examples of what could be are important to know to help kids (and adults!) in their learning process.
And, if you can’t tell already, I am really big into doing crafts with my boys. Are these at-home, frugal crafts works of art? Probably not to most folks-but they are treasures to our family.
My boys do crafts with me from day one. They all enjoy the creative process. I am quite liberal in letting them carry an idea with arts and crafts to their ability (and our budget!).
Needless to say, I was quite disappointed in their public school’s approach to art education. I had been looking forward to seeing how they could apply their at-home arts and crafts experiences to their public school art. I was so sad to discover that they would often come home close to tears because “I didn’t draw my line exactly like teacher-even after 5 times!”
(I should add here that I am fully aware that not all public school art teachers have this strict approach. My boys had an unfortunate experience. I pray that other public school art teachers have a more relaxed, fun approach to elementary art class!)
Back to our homeschool art appreciation (and thanks for your patience in wading through that bit of Busy Boys Brigade history!)…
We jumped into homeschooling with a Charlotte Mason-like approach. I had found Mater Amabilis (an amazing free online Catholic Charlotte Mason curriculum) and adored their approach to art.
Our homeschool budget was (and is!) tight. I was already making quite a few purchases of texts-and the total kept rising. As much as I wanted to invest in quality art work reproductions, our homeschool just didn’t have the moola!
We started to look online at different works of art (based on periods laid out in MA curriculum-so helpful!). This approach worked to a degree-but my boys are hands-on learners. If they can hold it and touch it, it sticks so much better!
I started to think of ways I could create free (or frugal) art appreciation cards. I discovered that I could go online, find public domain works, and save to my computer! Let me put the process into a numbered list for you (so much easier to replicate!).
14 Steps to Free (or very frugal!) Art Appreciation Cards:
- Determine what time period, genre, artist(s) you would like to study in your homeschool. If you would like a bit of guidance here are a few sites that may help:
- Create a list to reference while you create an Art Appreciation folder on your computer. (You can skip this step but it makes it so much easier and faster to do!)
- Go to Wikimedia Commons (or other free source of public domain works).
- Enter your search terms and select works of art according to your reference list.
- CAREFULLY READ THE COPYRIGHT LICENSE AREA. ONLY DOWNLOAD AND USE WORKS THAT ARE IN PUBLIC DOMAIN.
- Select image size and save to your Art Appreciation folder.
- When you have all images that you need, go to an online photo service (like Shutterfly or Snapfish-I will go further into this in a sec!)
- Create an account if necessary (and while you are at it, check to see if new customers receive free prints or discount!). Check out this list of photo service sites-includes if coupon is available!
- Upload images from Art Appreciation folder.
- Label each image with artist, genre, title of work (will help later when organizing and teaching!)
- Select size and type of prints. Typically, the larger the size, the more money you pay.
- Check out and wait for prints.
- Label back of prints with artist’s name, genre, time period, title of work-whatever you want to include in your art appreciation study!
- Optional: Laminate prints for durability and protection.
**I created our first 50 art appreciation cards for almost free! I signed up for a new photo service company and used their 50 free 5×7 prints option for new customers. I made a negligible amount for shipping and handling. I had purchased a laminator and sheets at Aldi’s. So, my first 50 art appreciation cards cost a little over $2. Not too shabby!
BONUS TIP TIME!: Storage for Art Appreciation Cards
How do I store our Art Appreciation cards? In an empty tissue box!
I simple cut the top off of two square tissue boxes. I use one box for prints to study and another box for prints that we have studied. I leave both boxes out-I find my boys love to look through both and talk about what they have learned about each work of art.
Sure, this process of creating Art Appreciation cards takes some time and effort. With our budget and desire to teach art appreciation to our hands-on boys, it has been well worth it!
I would love to hear how you will use these Art Appreciation cards! How do you include art appreciation in your homeschool?