Saturday, July 27, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Global Art

Art is not my thing, but my daughter, who has special needs, seems to love to express herself creatively so I have to find a way to work that in.  Since my Gess is a hands on learner I thought it would be fun to review Global Art from Gryphon House to tackle art and learning at the same time.

Global Art is not just your average art book.  Instead it specializes in activities based upon art and culture from around world.  The goal is not necessarily to make a masterpiece, but rather to experience the process and learn about the culture from where that type of art originated.

Each activity is based upon customs, celebrations, discoveries, inventions, or native materials that are used in art in that particular area.  You will find a Did you know segment on each project page that shows the location of the country on the map and gives you a tidbit of information about how that project is relevant to the country.  For instance, Moribana is a style of flower arranging that has been used in Japan for hundreds of years.  "The main idea of Moribana scenery style flower arranging is to depict a miniature version of a woodland scene with a stream or pond."

Gess had fun creating her Moribana.  The goal here was learning the artistry of the Japanese people rather than just what kind if pretty scene she could make.

The projects are categorized by their continent but there are indexes in the back that let you search by country, terms and materials, preparation, art medium, experience level or alphabetically.  That came in handy as sometimes I wanted an activity to go along with our geography lesson and other times I wanted to look for something by skill level.  I would often find Gess just going through the book on her own and picking them out based upon how fun they looked to make.  Here is one time I just found her in the kitchen browsing through the book.

At the top of each project pages are icons that tell you the experience level, art techniques, and planning and preparation level.  Here is an example.

The 3 stars means that the Animal Masks have an experience level of 3, a planning and preparation level of 2 and primarily focuses on the technique of sculpting.  The book explains what to expect from each of the categories.

While Gess periodically chose activities she wanted to do we never did do an experience level 3.  It either had ingredients that were hard to find or I felt it was too difficult for Gess to do, especially with her special needs.  There were definitely more levels 1 and 2 anyway, so that wasn't a problem.  There certainly is something there for everyone.

The Moribama that I showed earlier was an experience level 2.  Since we were beginning to study Africa I looked for activities in that region and found an easy level 1 that Gess was able to do alone.  Here is Gess sporting her version of a Central African Decorative Necklace.

Overall I thought the projects were fun and I did like how they helped the child learn about the culture.  I wish there had been a little more information about each country in the book, but there was certainly enough to explain the activity.  I also liked that the activities were not your average crafts.  These really were specific to learning about culture rather than just art alone.  There were definitely things I had not considered doing and plenty for both of us to learn from.  While there are probably some we will never do, I have several marked on my list that I want to implement when we are actually studying those specific countries in history and geography.

Global Art is suited for children up to about the 5th grade and sells for $16.95Gryphon House also has other art books as well as other early childhood resources.  To learn more visit their website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about it by clicking on the banner below.


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