Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Creating Works of Art With ArtAchieve {A TOS Review}

Is art important in your home? It is in ours. Hands-on crafts have been a part of our homeschool since we started when Tabitha was 2 1/2 years old.  I love letting the creative juices flow when coming up with lessons. However, I realize there is a difference between "crafts" and "art." Crafts are something I can come up with for the children to do. Art is something I need help with when it comes to teaching the children.  The children all have shown interest in art, with drawing, painting, and such. In fact, Tabitha has started a little gallery on her wall of some of her creations.  In order to continue to encourage the children along this path, I wanted to make sure the children have some structure in their art time. We have tried using some different books in the past, but we never progressed very far. When the opportunity arose for us to try out the online art course ArtAchieve, I was quite excited. I had perused the site and thought the lessons looked like something the children and I could work on together. I opted to receive the Entire Level I, which we have been working on for the last several weeks. 

John Hofland is the creator and instructor of ArtAchieve. He, along with his wife and homeschooled children, have visited many countries, which has allowed him to collect images which inspired these art lessons. Not only that, but Mr. Hofland studied drawing and design from Eastern European master teachers, which has been a huge influence on the approach of ArtAchieve. 

Mr. Hofland believes that art is very important, and is possible to be learned by all, not by a select few who have some amazing talent. The lessons that are taught are presented step-by-step, allowing a child to create a recognizable work of art, while allowing the child to make it his or her own. 

Now, I mentioned that Mr. Hofland has traveled and collected images that are used in the lessons. Part of the draw I had to ArtAchieve is that there are also cross-curricular activities for each lesson. The student (and parent) will learn about the country where the original image was found through suggested books and links to other websites. Books are also suggested to go along with the subject of the art lesson, such as insects, cats, dragonflies, or geckos. Mr. Hofland will also include facts about the object by talking about it in the lesson. 

Here is a screenshot of the lesson for the Hungarian Insects. This information is available to the public by clicking on the "Art Lessons" tab on the top of the site. 

Each lesson will include a description of the art lesson, a list of supplies needed, suggestions for cross-curricular connections, and approximate time needed for the lesson. The subjects the student may learn about if following the suggestions for the cross-curricular connections are social studies, science, literature, geography, writing, music, architecture, and drama (not all of the projects include all of these subjects, this is a compilation of all the possible subjects that may be learned).

Let's move on to the art lessons themselves. While anyone has access to the lesson description and cross-curricular activities, you can only view the actual lessons if you have purchased them. However, some of the projects do include a link to view a lesson preview. 

We have been working on Level 1 which has 11 lessons, including some free lessons. 

  • Lesson 1: Simple Lines (Free)
  • Lesson 1B: Shading Objects That Have Corners (Free)
  • Lesson 2: The Czech Cat (Free)
  • Lesson 3: The Hungarian Insects
  • Lesson 4: The Haitian Gecko
  • Lesson 5: The Dragonfly from Ecuador
  • Lesson 6: The Chinese Dragon
  • Lesson 7: The Owl from Bali
  • Lesson 8: The Kitenge Tree Wall Hanging From Tanzania
  • Lesson 9: The Plate From Nepal
  • Lesson 10: Four Suns With Four Faces
  • Lesson 11: The Sheep From Wales.
These lessons are presented in either PowerPoint or video versions. There are printouts of the warm up and guiding pictures of the art subject that the student will use to help them as they draw. Here is a look at what you will find on our lesson page. I clicked on Lesson 3: The Hungarian Insects and the drop down menu shows the parts of the lesson. 


We have done these lessons differently to see which way works for us. Sometimes we do the lesson all in one day, other times I spread it out through the week. After printing out the warm-ups and the printouts of the image, we gather around the dining room table or the coffee table. 

We begin with the relaxation exercise, rubbing our hands together, placing them over our eyes and taking deep breaths. 

The first part of every lesson is a warm-up. There are 12 squares on the page with 6 of them filled in with lines and shapes that will be found on the corresponding project. We are to copy the designs in the box below the one that is filled in.

We then watch the video where Mr. Hofland takes us step-by-step through the project. First he has us visualize where the lines or circles will be, placing or running our fingers in the appropriate area to get a feel for how big we will need to draw. He'll make us aware of the amount of space needed, for example, how much space is between these bugs' eyes or where the line for the nose will be.

We watch what he draws and then we draw our own, pausing the video if we need to catch up if he has started moving on to the next step.

For these Hungarian Insects, he taught us each insect separately as there are different wings on each of them. One insect has no wings, the next has two wings (or one pair of wings), and the third has four wings (or two pairs of wings).

Here is my completed drawing, before the coloring step. The paper on the left is the "Printout of the Hungarian Bugs" that can be accessed on the lesson screen. 

And here are the children's

Here they are starting their Haitian Geckos.

For all of the projects we have done so far, we have started with a drawing made with a fine-tip permanent marker. I have been using an ultra-fine tip as I had purchased them, thinking that was what he meant by "fine tip black marker." It is my understanding that all of the pictures will begin with drawing in black marker, but I could be mistaken. 

The next step is to color/paint and decorate the drawing. In the majority of the lessons we have done, we have used washable markers to color. However, there have been opportunities to use oil pastels and watercolor paint as well. There are projects that use other media, but we started with those that we had most of the supplies readily available. 

The children have all been very busy creating these works of art.

Mommy has also enjoyed completing a couple of lessons. I actually should have had three, but Harold had cut up his Hungarian Insects, and before I realized what he was doing, he colored mine (bottom right corner of the collage of Hungarian Insects above was a joint effort).

I have to say, I did enjoy making the two I completed, and am hoping to find time to make the others.

I had every intention of doing all of the lessons with the children. However, there were times I was just too busy and I wanted them to work on their art. I was so thankful that they could work on these lessons without me thanks to Mr. Hofland being such a good teacher.

Of course, I have had a part in doing the cross-curricular lessons with the children. We have not done all of the activities in each of the lessons we have completed; however we have enjoyed reading some books and checking out some online links to expand our knowledge on the subject. 

When we were working on The Czech Cat we read some of the poems in the book Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Elliott. I never realized the Broadway musical CATS was based on this book. I was also able to borrow the theatrical book of CATS plus the movie. Tabitha had fun following along in the book as she watched.

We had recently learned about insects with our core curriculum, so I didn't take the time to reread books about insects. However, we did find some interesting books about geckos to go with The Haitian Gecko, plus there were some cool links to follow online. Our library book box is filled with books on the sun and dragonflies at the moment. 

So far, all of the projects have been appropriate for all of the girls. Harold, who is 4, is a bit young for some of them, though he tries very hard and is enjoying the lessons. Though you can't tell by the picture, Harold was following the directions for the Four Suns With Four Faces very well. Then I made the mistake of leaving him with a marker while I left the room for a few minutes. When I came back, his sun looked more like a lion than a sun because he wanted to "make it pretty." Lesson learned. Don't leave a 4 year old alone with a marker (yes, I should have known this already).

I have to say, in the short time that we have been using this program, Harold has definitely improved in being able to see what he is supposed to be drawing. Here is a comparison of his warm-up from earlier in the program and the last one he did.

He is definitely paying better attention to the designs and is able to recreate them much better.

Now I would like to welcome you to the Waide Academy Art Gallery!

I have to say, this is an awesome art program! The children are really creating these lovely works of art. They are able to follow the instructions of Mr. Hofland very well. I love that he goes step by step and gets the student to see the lines and shapes that are a part of the picture. I thought it was neat that all of these projects are inspired by works of art found around the world. It is such a neat way to encourage children to learn about other cultures. The cross-curricular activities are wonderful and varied. We have been having a great time expanding our knowledge. We are very thankful for ArtAchieve and look forward to creating more works of art.

The children enjoy this program so much, they have been known to create additional pictures after the lesson is over. They have created extra copies of each project in their sketch books. What I have found the most amazing is, they have done this from memory.

You can find ArtAchieve on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram.

There are three levels of ArtAchieve and we were each able to choose one level. Click on the banner below to read my fellow Crew Mates' reviews.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

Crew Disclaimer


  1. What a cool art lesson. It looks like your kids are pretty talented artists too!

  2. I really like this lesson. I like the encouragement of creative talents.


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