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The Whole Picture K-6 Elementary Art Curriculum Review by Courtney Larson

Kelly Sooter
The Whole Picture
15202 67th Dr. S
Snohomish, WA, 98296

The Whole Picture is an elementary art appreciation course that includes a project for each lesson, with levels available for kindergarten through grade 6. Each level includes a CD with individual art lessons, a CD with a PowerPoint presentation of the artwork in the lessons, and a user guide, all packaged in a heavy-duty plastic sleeve. A lesson takes about 1.5 hours from start to finish, and the lessons could easily be broken up over two or more days. While there are grade levels on each set, the lessons and project difficulty can be adjusted up or down to suit whatever age level you are working with (at times an additional project at a different level is provided).

If all the levels of The Whole Picture are used, the student will cover art from prehistory through post-modern times. Some of the lessons focus on various art history topics, such as impressionism, East Asian art, Americana, aboriginal art, the Renaissance, and cave art. Other lessons focus more on the elements of art, such as primary and secondary colors, line, shape and shadow, and tints and shades. Famous artists and their works are discussed as well.

The lessons are on a CD in PDF format, and should be printed out before the lesson is completed. Each lesson begins with a title page, followed by sample pictures of the art used in the lesson and a list of art supplies needed to complete the project. Next is a list of the concepts and skills covered in the lesson, and this list is followed by the lesson notes (the notes are several pages long). The lesson notes are in a bulleted format, making the information easy to access and discuss with your student. Artwork samples are provided in a PowerPoint presentation on a second CD, and the artwork is discussed thoroughly, also using the lesson notes provided.

The Whole Picture uses fairly common art supplies for the projects, and a list for each level is supplied in the User's Guide. Paint, glue, paper, pastels, and colored pencils are some of the basic art supplies that are recommended. Each level also has a few unique supplies, and these supplies include things like cotton balls, felt, paraffin wax, clay, and sand. These unique supplies aren't things I'd generally have on hand, but they are easy enough to purchase locally at a craft, hobby, or home improvement store. Some of the projects your student will complete are impressionist paintings, Americana collages, African masks, and Native American pottery.

I have always been a bit stumped about how to teach art in our homeschool. The lessons in The Whole Picture are laid out very well, with a lot of information that is easy to access and discuss, making the lessons easy to teach--even if you're close to clueless about art like I am. The project instructions are thorough and precise, so I wasn't left scratching my head wondering what exactly we were supposed to be doing. There are even samples of completed projects at the end of every lesson. I do wish the lessons were taught in chronological order, but that's the only thing I would change about the program. The major drawback to this curriculum is the price. The cost for kindergarten through second grade is $49.95 per level, and the cost for third through sixth grade is $54.95 per level, with each grade level containing six to eight art lessons. On the surface, this seems to be quite expensive, but compared to an outside art class it's fairly reasonable, especially considering that the program is not consumable and can be reused for all of the children in your family. I think the projects and lessons are well worth the investment. With that in mind, I would highly recommend you take a look at The Whole Picture for your homeschool.


Product review by Courtney Larson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2010