An Introduction to Art History: A Classical Approach to Art is a series of courses in art history, appreciation, and work with art media. Four courses are available with three more in development. Courses available thus far are:
Part I: Studying the Masters
Part II: Ancient Art, Egypt, Greece, and Rome
Part III: Early Christian Art
Part IV: The Renaissance and Reformation
Courses coming in the future are:
Part V: Landscape Painters: 17th and 19th Centuries
Part VI: Masters of Animals and Birds
Part VII: Christian Artists
The courses are written from a Protestant perspective, and this is particularly evident in Part IV: The Renaissance and Reformation. You can use these courses in whatever order you wish, although it makes sense to use the second through fifth courses in order since they flow chronologically. The publisher suggests most of these courses for students age seven and older, but I think they will work better for those in grades four through twelve. Younger students are unlikely to have the historical background to which they can relate what they learn in these lessons, and they might find some of the art projects too difficult. On the other hand, junior high and high school students might be able to work through the courses independently. The publisher intends for each course to take one year, but older students might complete two courses in one year.
In each course book, periodic true/false quizzes present questions on the historical information presented in the lessons. Answers are printed upside down at the bottom of each quiz page, so you would have to mask the answers if you want an accurate assessment of student knowledge.
Each course consists of a textbook and a set of Lesson and Masterpiece cards that are printed on 8.5 x 11 inch cardstock sheets. Lesson Cards provide models, partially drawn formats, or spaces for each art project. Most projects are done in small areas to keep them manageable. Students will use water soluble markers, colored pencils and a black drawing pen for the art projects. The Masterpiece cards generally have two or more full-color images of artworks that are discussed within the lessons, and these artworks are often the inspiration for student art projects.
The history of art and architecture serves as the backbone for most of these courses, but students learn some about the broader historical context in which these are placed. The amount of information is manageable even for fourth or fifth graders. There is just enough to interest students without overloading them. Tying together historical events with developments in art while simultaneously using art to illustrate and explain historical events makes both history and art more interesting.
Different types of art and art skills are taught in relation to historical artworks and techniques. Students learn skills that are essential for drawing alongside those for working with different types of art media. Courses do not teach art skills in a sequence that moves from easy to difficult. For example, the first art lesson in Part III: Early Christian Art, has children use a pen to draw lines, breaking up a small, clownish figure called Professor Solomon into mosaic-like pieces. Next, they copy a mosaic of the head of Jesus into a small box then turn it into a mosaic as well. The first project should be easy while the second will probably be very challenging. Some instruction is given for how to form the head and place the features on the face, but this is advanced work. Lessons continue in this vein, sometimes teaching relatively easy skills, and other times teaching skills that are much more challenging. Parents might need to assist younger students or come up with adaptations for some projects.
Each course book comes packaged with a set of Lesson and Masterpiece cards. You can order extra sets of the cards for additional students. You can also purchase the course book and cards in a bundle that includes a binder. (The Lesson and Masterpiece cards are pre-punched with three holes for insertion into a binder.) There are also bundles for each course that include a set of high-quality art supplies so that you have everything you need for the course.
An Introduction to Art History: A Classical Approach to Art is labeled as a classical approach to art, but these courses should work well no matter what educational approach you use for other subjects.