Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Studying the Art of the Middle Ages: A Review of Artistic Pursuits Inc.

text: Studying the Art of the Middle Ages: A Review of Artistic Pursuits Inc.; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Like most homeschooling families, our family enjoys incorporating art into our other subjects. Artistic Pursuits Inc. makes that very easy to do with their four-year course for kindergarten and elementary students. It takes children through history as they produce a variety of works of art. In the first volume, students work on building their visual vocabulary (read our review here: Building Visual Vocabulary). Then you can either complete the volumes in chronological order or pick and choose which ones interest you and your children. We have reviewed both volumes 1 and 2 (Art of the Ancient review) so we decided to pick Art of the Middle Ages which is volume 3 to review this time.

book cover of Art of the Middle Ages

Text: Studying the Art of the Middle Ages: A Review of Artistic Pursuits Inc.; Your children take a sequential trip through the history of art in a done-for-you program; photo of four art projectsOur children love learning about anything relating to knights and castles so this book was an excellent choice for our family to review! There are 18 lessons which cover a variety of art techniques. There is a combination of text lessons and video lessons to teach your children how to produce different artworks. No matter which type of lesson you are using, all of the materials are listed in the book.

The video lessons provide some background historical information presented by video host Ariel Holcomb. The video lesson then presents the art project and instructs how to complete the art project, step by step. You can choose to view the video lessons in order or select from the main screens. When the video lesson demonstrates how to create the art project, you will be watching an over the shoulder viewpoint as the art teacher, Brenda Ellis, works.

image from video lesson for making the crown with weaving

video screenshot of finishing the weaving using straws and yarn

The text lessons vary in that they sometimes provide prep notes (which can be helpful if you are teaching the lessons to a large group of children outside a classroom setting). There is then historical information given and questions to answer such as "Can you name the bold colors used by the artist?" in the Christ in Majesty tapestry. After viewing real-world examples, the steps are laid out for how you and your children can create the art project yourselves. Photos of the work in progress are included as well as a photo of a finished product by a child.

text of historical information re: Gothic stained glass
Here you can see the historical information (surrounded by the tissue paper we used).

How Did We Use Art of the Middle Ages in Our Homeschool?

While we could very easily have used this alongside a history curriculum focusing upon the Middle Ages or a literature curriculum in which we read about the kings and courts of the past, I choose to work through the projects with our children based upon what materials we had and which ones they wanted to try out.

We completed the following projects:

  • Paper Loom Weave: The kids completed both a basic weave and then the crown. I love that our children could complete this project more than once if they wanted to weave using different colors.  
paper loom weave with construction paper
crown woven with construction paper

  • Art in Monasteries – Medieval Illumination: We used clip art and scrap paper rather than having our children draw pictures to add to their large letters. They also decided to choose letters based upon their gaming characters. 
Letter A illuminated manuscript craft

Letter D illuminated manuscript craft

  • Art in Basilicas – Byzantine Mosaics: This fit in perfectly as we had been watching a program that shared the mosaics in the Christian churches like the Hagia Sophia. 
mosaic art craft

  • Straw Loom Weave: I think I had more fun with this project than the kids. Maybe in a few years when they are older, they will want to try again. They had trouble with moving the yarn over and under the straws so our older son and I helped them complete their project. 
weaving using yarn and straws

completed yarn art project

  • Low-Relief: Our children had so much fun creating their own modified versions of shields. We used animals from the ocean as it is almost summer and then used modified materials. This project encouraged our son to want to read more about heraldry and what all the colors and symbols stood for in the Middle Ages. 
low-relief instructions and project in the middle of completion

  • Art in Windows: Gothic Glass was a very fun project as the kids got to pick and choose different color tissue paper to create the glass effect. 
faux stained glass art project

I used the lessons from the Art of the Middle Ages as fun homeschooling lessons. We often like to incorporate arts and crafts into our week so these were perfect. I could share a bit of history about the topic with our children. We either watched the video lesson where historical information was shared or we read the text and answered the questions together. Then our children could have fun creating their art.

My Thoughts

I love that the book is hardcover with full-color, glossy pages. The quality of the book is fantastic and will be able to last through much referencing. There is also space to keep the discs in the front of the book.

I would love it if the video lessons had more detailed instructions that were either printed in the book or you could download. I like to read and re-read instructions rather than just listen or watch instructions. That is my personal learning style. So when we were watching the video lesson, I wrote down notes to reference for when we would be working on the projects. (I also had trouble playing the discs. We ended up having to play the Blu-ray disc in our gaming console as it would not work in the Blu-ray player. I also could not get the DVD disc to work.)

I like that you have the option to purchase the materials directly from Artistic Pursuits Inc. (with or without the book). However, you can make substitutions if necessary and your projects will be okay. For example, I thought we had Gesso which is one of the materials for the Low-Relief project but we didn't. So the kids painted the shield with white paint and then they painted the sections and the animal with regular paint. The shields still turned out really cool.

steps of completing a low-relief shield

I would recommend the K-3 books from Artistic Pursuits Inc. as they are well made and provide many great art activities for your children. I love the incorporation of art history which I feel makes the curriculum even more versatile. I also like that we can go back and use the lessons again as our children grow more skilled and create new artwork.

Do You Want to Learn More?

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Artistic Pursuits Inc. offers a great variety of curriculum for your homeschooling needs. Members of the Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to review items for PK-12 grades, so be sure to check out their reviews!

Do you have an artist taking their first steps? There is a 16-week summer series where children can learn to draw from observation. Check out the blog here: The Artist's First Steps.

If you are interested in the K-3 level books (like those we have reviewed previously), then perhaps you might want to take a look at the online courses. For example, for the Art of the Middle Ages, you will receive 18 lessons online which is perfect for international homeschooling families.  

Homeschool Review Crew click through to read more reviews

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