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Monart Drawing Curriculum Review by Ashley KoulakMona Brookes
When I began homeschooling, the task of teaching my kids just the basic academic subjects was daunting not to mention all the other subjects their public school peers have access to, especially art. Art is such an important subject and I have children who are naturally drawn to creating. Drawing, coloring, painting- they love it all! But how do I present drawing to my children when I am far from an artist? Drawing has never been my strongest skill. I grew up believing that you had to be born with a natural talent to be an artist. I remember getting bad grades in art throughout middle and high school because my creations were not what a teacher was looking for. Art has not been a structured subject in our homeschool, until now.
Years ago, Mona Brookes authored a book called Drawing with Children. And ten years later a revised edition was published, with all the same core beliefs as the first. In Mona’s book, she explains that anyone can be an artist. Anyone can draw and successfully relay their creative ideas on paper. Mona explains that there are five basic shape elements in drawing. When you learn to view the world using these five elements and transcribing them onto paper, you can develop your drawing skills. “Drawing with Children” can be found at most major bookstores and on Amazon. Along with the book, Mona has developed a training DVD and various lessons from beginner to advanced that you can use with your child, whether in a class setting or in a homeschool setting. This is not your typical drawing curriculum with step-by-step instruction to create a copy of a picture. Mona believes that everyone can develop their own unique drawing style and should not feel judged by their performance. In her course, she covers some essential elementsof drawing that I never really thought of! Things like eliminating noise pollution, relaxing your upper body, and even what type of dialogue to use with your child. The DVD course has 2 hours of content featuring Mona Brookes, who goes over the History of Monart and how to teach drawing to anyone from ages four through adult. She teaches you how to structure and execute a lesson, her directions are straightforward and easy to follow. You can purchase the DVD through the Monart website for $89.99 or get a live stream version for $79.99.
The Monart lessons are put together beautifully and there are plenty to choose from! Each Monart lesson is $9.00 and can be found online at the Monart store for purchase as downloads only, this includes the intermediate and advanced lessons. For our basic lesson, we drew a Keel-billed Toucan. The lesson boasts beautiful images from different angles of a Toucan, facts, and habitat as well as a book recommendation to read aloud about the tropical bird. There is a practice sheet that has different parts of the Toucan to practice drawing using your elements of shape. Once our beautiful Toucan was drawn, we were able to easily add in some background foliage and color using the example in our lesson plan as well. It all was under 20 pieces of paper that stored nicely in a school folder. The lesson was flexible, my older kids were engaged while my younger ones were still able to keep up and create a beautiful drawing.
The Intermediate Monart lesson was a bit more structured and detailed compared to the beginning lesson. Our Intermediate lesson was on the life cycle of a frog- complete with descriptions of frogs and toads, their life cycle and book recommendations for our read-aloud time. The intermediate lesson had step-by-step instructions for our frog project that were easily understood and followed by my 2nd and 3rd graders. There was a supply list that did not require any special supplies, everything we needed was on hand. I was able to make copies of the practice sheets for all the kids and let them sit and work on them without much help, at this point they were familiar with the elements of shape. The lesson included teaching components such as foreground and background, shading and using different drawing utensils to achieve a different texture and look. The images all were beautiful, and the whole lesson stored nicely in a folder.
The advanced lesson was Mona’s Circle/Tube System, and my nine-year-old enjoyed it. The circle/tube system is drawing a realistic image of a person using circles at the joints and tubes that connect them. This lesson was specific with thorough directions. The lesson included a supply list, how to structure and lead the lesson as well as exercises to practice more complex positions of the body. There was also a paper on drawing a person and getting your image to fit on the paper in proportion. I feel like when my daughter was drawing before, some body parts were out of proportion-so having that visual help sheet was such a great tool! It was easier to achieve a finished product that looked like a person. Using this method, we had a fun time drawing all sorts of people! We worked through this lesson throughout the week, but parents can decide what is best for their family and adapt the lessons easily.There is no strict schedule to abide by.
I noticed that when my kids became aware of shapes and lines, they were able to confidently put their thoughts on paper. This included our handwriting as well! Mona Brookes noticed this trend in her students and wrote another curriculum called Drawing Through the Alphabet. This is a writing program designed for kids 3-6 and teaches them handwriting, along with a little drawing. Children will learn how to form letters and copy words, as well as draw some simple animals using the elements of shape. The curriculum is fun, and age appropriate. All extra lessons and the Teacher’s Guide can be found at the Monart website available for download. The complete Teacher’s Guide is $25.00, and each letter lesson is $9.00.
I really enjoyed how gentle the Monart approach to drawing was. I loved how each drawing lesson included components to make it complete. We were not just drawing; we were learning about the world around us.
Monart is a very solid drawing curriculum. The time and research the author invested have been time-tested. The examples of work in Mona’s book, as well as on her website, speak for themselves. Whether being taught in a homeschool setting, or in a drawing school, Monart teaches a great method that can benefit anyone! Thank you, Mona Brookes, for giving me the tools and confidence to sit and draw with my children!
-Product review by Ashley Koulak, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2019