In Elementary art, students learn about a wide variety of art from artists all over the world. Each year, students focus on something specific, reviewing lessons in the later years of elementary, to create a well -rounded, firm foundation in art and art history.
Kindergarten starts the year off with the elements and principles of design such as line, shape, and color. Students look at how artists use those elements in famous artworks and how to use them in their own artwork each week (these lessons will be reviewed in more depth in 5th grade art). Students finish the year learning how to draw people. They start to spend more time on each project, moving from single color stick figures to more advanced figures with multiple neutral tones in both light and shadow- moving from pencil, to crayon, to paint. Students will learn about figure drawing again, in more detail in sixth grade art.
First grade practices hands-on projects in as many different mediums as possible during the year. They learn about a new type of art each week and then get to have hands on practice making their own artwork out of mediums such as paint, clay, oil pastels, textiles, photography, watercolor, and technology.
Second grade focuses on art in the church. They learn about everything from the time of the ascension to the present. Examples of our projects include making portraits when we learn about iconography/iconoclasm and stained glass windows when we learn about Gothic architecture. We talk about how some artworks have certain ideas behind them, depending on what the artist wanted the audience to look at; for example, a mural might guide your eye up to remind you to think about God rather than earthly things. At the end of the year, students create their own church designs and then collaborate on artworks that are shown at church on the last week of the school year.
Third grade focuses on Non-Western art, looking at specific countries or people groups and their artistic traditions. Students get the chance to learn about and have hands-on practice with the different mediums used by each group. For example, when learning about Japanese art, students get to look at how the tea ceremony is set up and practice using the traditional tools. When learning about textile art in the Andes, they get to learn to weave with yarn. Students also get to practice with 1 and 2 point perspective when they draw the Taj Mahal and a Maori Meeting House. Before each project, we pray for the people in that culture that don’t know Jesus, and we pray for the church in that area too.
Fourth grade focuses on design. Students learn the difference between non-utilitarian art and design, starting off by looking at our country’s original designers, Native American artists who created functional yet beautiful baskets, pottery, fashion, etc. This unit goes with the students’ social studies curriculum which focuses on Indigenous Californians. Students practice making their own architecture and interior designs (Using flooring/fabric/tile samples), fashion design, costume design, automotive concept design (using 2-D and 3-D models), product design, and graphic design. We talk about how to design with kindness- remembering that design is a way to love people rather than show off our own “good” taste. Students learn that we can use design to make life easier for people by making things that are beautiful, yet affordable, practical, or helpful to people with disabilities or special needs.
Fifth grade learns how to think critically about art and the choices in composition that artists make. Students learn about the story of abstraction, how art spaces function, and look at American art alongside their social studies curriculum. In the beginning of the year, when students are learning about the elements and principles of design, they do short projects with a focus on composition. This leads up to a large scale abstract acrylic painting on canvas, where they use that knowledge to create something entirely their own, making an artwork with creativity and intentionality. At the end of the year, students learn more about curating and how art spaces like museums function. They learn about the art jobs that are needed and how design plays a large part of an exhibition coming together. Students design their own galleries, make exhibitions in our gallery model, and practice museum etiquette. With this understanding of decisions that artists and curators make, fifth grade students then practice their critical thinking by discussing famous American artworks.
Sixth grade learns how to draw precisely from life by measuring distances and angles on both still lives and people. In sixth grade, as students’ skills become more advanced, they begin working on larger scale, longer projects. They create a large charcoal still life and make multiple extended figure projects using colored pencil and then oil paint. Students learn to ask themselves the right questions to help find solutions for structure, value, and temperature, so that they can make accurate drawings of anything they choose. For example, students learn how to use pencils to measure accurate distances and angles from life- giving them the ability to make precise proportions when they draw. Before each class, students also take a short period of time to look at the art of different artistic traditions around the world which aligns with their social studies curriculum that focuses on ancient civilizations and recaps the information they learned in third grade art to solidify their understanding.
At the end of the year, students focus on creating work to do with their own interests when they participate in the sixth grade art show. Each student is given a specific amount of space in the gym to fill with their own collection of work, along with their own artist statement to explain their intent. They can use whatever mediums they choose and have the opportunity to be creative in whatever artistic direction they find interesting. Past students have submitted sculptures, paintings, photography, sportswear designs, fashion designs, comic book characters, and much more. They get to practice creating a body of work for a portfolio, making curatorial decisions for their displays, and practice thinking critically about art made by their peers.
These skills are important not only for the students that might choose careers in art or design, but for all the students to understand as they will inevitably participate in the culture that they are a part of. By the end of elementary, students will have learned about how the art world functions, its many components, and how to look at an artwork in order to listen to the artist. Our goal is for students to be able to have some context in art history and practice in critical thinking, so that if/when they go to a museum or gallery, they can be able to talk about what they see with some understanding and with a respectful/loving posture.