How to Create a Low Cost Elementary Art Curriculum . . . Plus a Free Printable!

Art is one of those things that seems to slip to the backburner in our homeschool. But it’s that time of year again! We are almost two weeks into the new year and calendars are going on sale. Why would this get me excited?

elementary art curriculum

Because sometimes, without even trying too hard, I can score some good finds and broaden the selection of art for our lessons. This has me dusting off my plans and sharing them with you!

One of the core principles of my homeschool lessons is, “Here a little, there a little.” I firmly believe that children learn more through exploring concepts one at a time, ideally in the course of conversation when they are most curious and most apt to be paying attention. Really paying attention, because they want to know.

And that’s why I collect art calendars whenever I can find them. I then carefully disassemble them, storing them carefully in a folder. This gives me 12 examples of an artist or a style. So far, I have Monet, Japanese block prints and some Australian photographers to begin my collection. Now I just need . . . every one else! Actually, one of the most fun things is to just let your children go through the sale calendars and pick one.


They don’t need to know it’s school.

For the next part, if helps if you have a frame, but matboard will do. Or even something you make yourself. Then hang up one example near where your child plays. The idea is to gain familiarity with frequent, self-directed study of the artwork because it just happens to be there. Then sometime, when your child is calm and snuggly (maybe between books during family read aloud), take down the piece of art and just talk about it.

That’s it. Let your child tell you what he sees, what she feels, what she thinks. The tricky part is responding using the correct terminology. I am so not an artist. My most basic art studies left me woefully unprepared to discuss things like movement and balance. In a picture. Where nothing moves, and even Dali’s melty forms never fall.

But I’m learning. Right alongside my children. I have a list of art principles from our county’s 4H curriculum, but they are also available online. For each piece of art, I pick one or two and we just talk about them.

I take it slow, because that’s how children learn. I want to teach art so that they learn to really appreciate art, both for the skill of the artist and for the beauty and ideas it puts into the world. And so we “read” art, much like we read a favorite book.

After discussing the art, I hang it up for at least another day before pulling out another one. (Well, that’s the idea anyway. I have a chronic lack of wall space at the moment so this is one of my goals!)

Then comes the fun part. Playing with the art concepts you are learning. For this, you have to have a basic set of supplies and an internet connection. I google things like, “elementary art projects with Monet” but here is an excellent list of art projects sorted under 13 different artists. They all encourage exploration of materials and concepts, making art low stress and enjoyable with no need to replicate the great masters, making them beneficial to all skill levels without causing frustration.

This semester I’m going to add a section to their binders about artists to encourage a little research along with our art exploration and so they learn more about each of the artists on their own. I’m all about creating the least amount of work for me so I took a little time to create a basic outline for them to fill out and they can research a different artist each month.

any artist biography notebooking printable

Even better, I’m sharing it with you! Just click here for your free artist biography printable or on the image above to print off your own copy! I have more planned for the future as I get our homeschool back on track so consider subscribing to my email list or following me on facebook so you don’t miss any!

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