Back in March when schools closed here in Seattle for COVID no one had any idea what to expect or how long school would be on hold. For the first two weeks teachers were told not to teach and students were just… home. Our family has been home schooling for the last 6 years so the transition to being home wasn’t as abrupt for us as others. However, being a home schooler doesn’t mean that you are actually at home all the time. In fact, that idea is so far from the truth! Sometimes I feel like we are out in the community more than we are home.
First of all, we utilize the homeschool resource center through Seattle Public Schools. It runs a bit like college. They publish a schedule; you pick and choose what classes you’d like to take and then supplement along the way. Most classes are twice a week for 90 minutes. You can take everything from Math and English Language Arts to Science, Art, Music lessons, Karate and the list goes on and on. No two students have the same schedule. Since those classes are offered through Seattle Public Schools they were of course were cancelled. Many of our other activities like little league baseball, afterschool Spanish classes, swim team and horseback riding lessons also came to a screeching halt. So, while we know how to fully homeschool in the traditional sense (all your work at home with a parent as a teacher) that wasn’t our current routine. Not having planned for a traditional home school model, I wasn’t very prepared to seamlessly pick up where our classes abruptly ended. However, if I didn’t want my kids playing video games and watching TV all day, I was going to need some routine. We quickly found some activities such as writing zoo journals inspired by home safari videos from the Cincinnati zoo, sending letters to family and Momma Art.
At Christmas, Grandma Joanne sent the kids a book called Look At Me! The Art of the Portrait for Children. At the time I flipped through it and while I thought it looked interesting, we had too much going on and I simply tucked it away on the bookshelf. However, now with stay at home orders we had nothing going on and plenty of time! Art is one of the subjects that is the easiest to teach multi age (vs math) and with a Kindergartener and 6th grader you can imagine the challenge of schooling them at the same time with the same lessons. Art lessons also have so many opportunities to include other topics such as science, math and history. Without a better idea we jumped two feet into kids’ portraiture.
We started each lesson looking at and reading about different famous artists and pieces of art. There were of course some simple art concepts included in the book such as perspective, color mixing, and composition. We looked at artists of varying time periods, and styles. From Andy Warhol to Botticelli, the pieces were varied and inspiriting. We read the book 2-3 pages at a time focusing on a single artist I then challenged the kids to make their own self portrait in the same style often with similar materials as what was pictured in the book. I had some square blank paper books I’d picked up in Target’s dollar bins back in September thinking they would be handy for something. I pulled them off the shelf and used them to create our own books.
From famous artists we had heard of to those we hadn’t the kids and I enjoyed our trip through history and various art studios to find inspiration for our own self portraits.