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.
Art is a long-neglected subject in our homeschool... The artistically-inclined children in the family pull out the art books we have and draw frequently, but trying to get a few of these kids to do any sort of art is like pulling teeth! So I was excited to try Beyond the Stick Figure Art School for their Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course PLUS 3 Bonus Courses, since it's geared towards the whole family. We've got a lot of little up-and-coming artists over here!
Beyond the Stick Figure Art School is geared towards the entire family, and we had kids from age 3 to age 10 (almost 11, he'll have you know) participating. While the 3-year-old and 5-year-old were happy to participate, the 3-year-old really ended up just using the materials and drawing whatever she wanted, and the 5-year-old needed a lot of help from me at times because he wasn't satisfied with his own drawing. So I would say that in terms of independence, this is probably best for ages 6+.
Lessons are short enough that you could easily do one per day, although at this point in the school year we are bustling along to finish up so that we can have our summer break, so we were only able to do a couple each week. While the videos themselves that accompany each lesson are short, I found the kids took quite a long time to fill in the "negative space" in each project (color it all in), so I think that as we continue to use the program, I will let the kids start on a lesson right after breakfast & chores while I'm getting the baby dressed and getting our materials together. That way they can continue their drawing while I read to them, and then move on to their math and other subjects.
I was pleased to hear the instructor, Sally, mention Charlotte Mason early on in the videos - I knew right then that we would be on the same page! She recommended high-quality art materials, which I've always tried to provide the kids, but I didn't realize that there were markers out there that would make such a difference in our art - when I bought the markers she suggested, it was so exciting for the kids to have "grown-up" tools at their disposal, and it definitely motivated them to work hard. These markers are on the expensive side, so I only bought one set for all the kids to share, and they're only allowed to use them during our art lessons. The markers along with the suggestion to cut the drawing paper into smaller rectangles rather than have a large blank sheet of paper made a huge difference! You can see some of their projects from the early lessons below:
So far we have only completed 11 lessons, and while I'm feeling a little bit bored by the tedium, I think that if we were doing this every day it would move a lot more quickly. The kids are perfectly happy with the pace! But I'm looking forward to moving on to more complicated projects. That said, my more reluctant artists have really been shining, since everybody is on the same level in these beginning lessons. They're much happier to be starting with just basic lines, circles, dots, curves, and so on, versus jumping straight in to drawing people and animals. It's been working really well for us and I'm looking forward to continuing these lessons, since it requires so little input from me!
I had trouble at first figuring out what device to use for the lessons - the computer volume was too soft even though the video was big enough, the phone screen was too small even though the volume was loud enough... And I couldn't manage to log on using the tablet! When I finally emailed Sally, she immediately responded to help me sort out my technical difficulties, and using the tablet (with our very fancy Duplo stand) ended up working best for us.
The program doesn't just have drawing lessons! There's also watercolor painting, acrylic painting, pen & ink drawing, and 3d modeling. The frustrating thing is that you have to complete all the lessons in one area before moving on to the next... So I had to manually click the "complete" button on every lesson just to be able to preview the later lessons! I wish there were a way to skip ahead to a different set of lessons for older students, or just to have an idea of what's coming up. I imagine that would be a pretty easy fix for the creator of the program, though.
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