Monday, 18 March 2013

Online Art Curriculum & Discount Offer For Home Educators

I mainly post about what  Little Boy Blue is up to but this blog is also about our home school journey and how having a toddler can impact on it. This post is mainly about an aspect of that impact and about my eldest boy Book Worm (8 yrs). 

If you have read some of my previous posts especially the 'Out of your comfort zone' and 'Challenge' posts you will already know that I struggle with doing arts & crafts with my children, I love these activities for myself but have issues when doing them with children. 

The whole setting up, mess, cleaning up and the control freak in me that wants the finished product to look like the picture in the book or online did! These are some of my struggles, throw a toddler into the mix and for me it seems like a recipe for my house and the children to look as if a paint, glitter or glue bomb exploded. I have however been making an effort to put myself out of my comfort zone more but feel as if I am missing the mark for my eldest (Book Worm). I feel he is at an age now to go beyond that level of art & craft and do some more structured art learning, so I have for some time now been on the search for something that meets our requirements.

The Search

There are a lot of art instruction books but I ruled them out as they seemed dry and I didn't have the knowledge or the time to teach Book Worm away from the other two, getting a tutor at this stage and age just seemed like an unnecessary expense. 

I looked at children's art groups but they are a bit of a distance away which would involve some driving and waiting in the car with the others plus the classes seemed like the crafts I am trying to do at home, not the type of instruction I was looking for. 

I also looked at DVD tutorials for home educators most of which seemed to come from the USA therefore once you factored in shipping and import costs it made them very expensive for what we needed, by chance I found my answer on a Facebook page I follow it was a link to an online art programme form Australia:

After accidentally signing up using a discount code only meant for Australian home educators I have been communicating with the site owner, creator and teacher Kirsty Shadiac and explaining the need/ plight of home educators especially within the UK to access products and services like hers. Kirsty has her site open to users from the UK and US, she has also very kindly put on a special offer for home educators which is available till the end of April and I get to be part of sharing the great offer. (see the end of my review for offer)

The Online Programme Review - Artventure

Artventure is an online programme available for schools, classes and home educators for an annual fee, you can visit the site (link above) and watch the introduction and also try a couple of the lessons for free. As a home educator when you are budgeting for all the curriculum elements you require for each child I love it when free trials of products are available. Free trials help you to see if the product or service fulfils your requirements before parting with part of your budget just to discover it wasn't what you thought it was!

The site is simply laid out and easy to navigate, once logged in you can use the search part to select a lesson or lessons are divid by degree of difficulty, grade level and also by subject so you can use them as part of a cross curriculum project. I feel that these different ways of selecting an art lesson for your child gives greater flexibility, with home education your child can have differing degrees of ability depending on the subject matter therefore if they are more or less capable at art you can choose the lessons to suit your child.

The online video lessons give clear step by step instruction, each element is shown clearly and terms used are easy to understand. Through out the lesson you will see a pause button logo this facility allows the student or parent to know when to pause as you following along. The materials for Book Worms level are things that as a home educating family you would probably have, so it won't break the bank with needing lots of specialist equipment. There is also an 'extras' feature that contains video lessons giving hints and explaining some techniques so your child will benefit more from the lessons. I plan for Book Worm to use these lessons independently with some assistance when required. 

Here are some of what he has done so far:

This is my favourite because until we started this programme
Book Worm was still drawing stick people!
As a member there is also a gallery area where your child can upload a photo of their master piece, it reminds me of the the gallery from a childhood TV show I loved called Hartbeat with Tony Hart, one rule for the gallery is that it must only be a photo of the art piece which as a parent gives me more peace of mind. 

As a younger child Book Worm struggled when something he had drawn didn't look exactly like the item - a dinosaur, a fish etc. A bit like his mum! I remember one time he came and asked me to draw him a dinosaur, he said he couldn't (not like the book) so I scribbled a few bits and bobs down and gave it to him. When he looked at my scribbles he said "That's not a dinosaur!" to which I replied "That is my impression of a dinosaur and if I say it's a dinosaur then it is and I think it is lovely". So often we can be over critical of our own and others work, that it puts us off from even trying and I don't want that to be the case for any of my children. Book Worm is enjoying the lessons at Artventure and the independence he has, I feel in time it will increase his ability in art and his confidence which in return might spark his own creativity.

If I could be granted just one wish from Artventure it would be that it include some art appreciation tutorials too. Kirsty seem so enthusiastic, engaging and child friendly in what she is doing with the lesson that it would be great to have someone like that guide my children (and I) through some art history, an art gallery or an artists studio so we had a better understanding and view of art as a whole.

Discount Deal

From now untill the end of April Kirsty at Artventure is offering 40% discount on the Home price which is normally $99 AUS per household per year so the discount would make this $59 AUS. This offer is open to UK and USA home educators (please select the correct link for your country) and is subject to the Artventures normal terms and conditions of membership. If you encounter any difficulties once at the site please contact Kirsty directly, her contact details are on the site.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we are.


  1. Sounds interesting and good to find another UK home ed blogger!
    Maybe a bit young for your son but we have used the Katie books by James Mayhew for very early art appreciation. I've been impressed with how my children have been able to recognise the work of certain artists after having these books read to them.

    1. We UK home ed bloggers can be a bit thin on the ground but it is growing!
      I have seen some art appreciation book like the Katie ones, I was never quite sure how good they would be. We are quite rural so it can be hard to access some things and as I said in the post I hate ordering something to get it and be disappointed because it wasn't what I thought it would be! Recommendations are better so I shall go and see if I can source some! lol

    2. Kirsteen Bishop19 March 2013 at 13:26

      I would recommend the Katie books too Nanette. My kids still love them now and they are 11, 9 and 8. I can also recomment 'Discovering Great Artists' which gives you a thorough run down of famous artists from Renaissance to Modern day and suggests an art project in the style of the artist you are studying. e.g. for Monet you might paint outside and you only paint in 'blobs' or for Michelangelo you tape your paper under a table and have to paint lying on your back... that kind of thing. I find it's good if we are studying a particular period in history, or a particular country, i can dip into it and find an artist that fits our project, and hey ho....we can tick the art box :)

    3. Kirsteen thanks for seconding the book recommendations and the suggestions too.

  2. Thanks so much for your kind words and love for Artventure! YES - There will be lots of videos and art tutorials on art history and artists in their studios ... I'm waiting for the Australian Government to release the next phase of the National Curriculum (which includes the subject ART). Once it's out, I'll be going nuts creating new videos for ... that's the beauty of the website, it's like a growing library!

    1. So excited about the future developments at Artventure, wishes really do come true! lo

      I would have reviewed you site and spread the word, we are enjoying it so much. Getting to share the discount with others is just the cherry on top!

  3. Your son did a great job! I love the idea of kids uploading their artwork. Very cool.

    1. Thank you Melanie, my son will be pleased to know others are enjoying his art efforts. He is enjoying it so much, I can't believe the change in his attitude towards art now. He keeps asking to do it every day but I want to space it out. We are doing it twice a week - one day to do a lesson and another to combine his new knowledge and do his own take on it, like change the materials or add his twist to it.

  4. Sounds great! Thanks for sharing at Family Fun Friday!

    1. Thanks for letting me share, Monica.

      My son is having a blast with this course, hope others will have benefited from the discount thats on too.