Atelier™ Online offers art instruction courses at eight different levels for students in pre-kindergarten through tenth grade. All courses can be used across a span of at least three grade levels, so you can combine students in one course if they are a few years apart. The program includes art appreciation, art history, multicultural art, and art projects.
Memberships are purchased for a period of 18 months. The family package membership includes access to a course for one level (20 lessons) plus an Online Great Art Appreciation Program (OGAAP) for that level. The 20 basic lessons should each take an hour to an hour and a quarter, but occasionally a lesson will have two parts and will require two sessions.
The OGAAP lessons cover at least 10 famous art images, providing both the artwork images and discussion guides. The time required for the OGAAP will vary depending on what you choose to do.
For an additional charge, you can get the Enriched Family Package that adds the Great Masters Virtual Museum. The virtual museum covers more than 90 additional artworks using images and discussion guides.
The primary components in the online resources for each course include the video lessons, the Parents’ and Teachers’ Handbook, ten or more artwork images, and Art Print Guides for each of the artworks.
Online Lessons and Resources
Once you have signed into your course, you will first see a list of documents and the links to the ten or more artwork images used for the OGAAP part of the course. The first of the documents is the Parents’ and Teachers’ Handbook. The other documents are mostly excerpts from the Handbook.
First, I will describe the Parents’ and Teachers’ Handbook. The Handbook explains the entire program and includes the scope and sequence. It has lesson plans for the 20 primary lessons, teaching tips, a list of supplies, a glossary of art terms, a bibliography, a section about how to put on an art show, another section about preparing for a visit to an art museum, and short biographies of the artists whose styles of work are featured within the program. Some of the information is written for classroom settings, but homeschooling parents should scan for anything useful in those sections.
In the Handbook, parents and teachers are encouraged to avoid grading student artwork and to offer encouragement rather than criticism. Students are guided toward self-evaluation as they answer the questions at the end of each lesson.
Also included in the course documents is the collection of Art Print Guides which are used with the ten or more artwork images. These are the two components of the OGAAP for each course. There is a two-page guide for each artwork. Each Art Print Guide has a biography of the artist, information about the period (history, art movements, etc.), a description of the artwork, discussion questions (with suggested answers), and activities that connect art with other subject areas. Sometimes one or more of the artwork images from the course's OGAAP are referred to in the lesson plans in the Parents’ and Teachers’ Handbook.
Even if you display and discuss some of the artworks within the other lessons, you can use the artwork images and their guides to present entirely separate lessons on days other than those for the 20 primary lessons. The information part of the guides might be written at too high a level for younger students, but the questions about the artworks can be used with all ages—questions such as "What time of day do you think it is?" and "What shapes do you see repeated?" The Activities and Extensions section in the Art Print Guides presents discussion ideas followed by activities. Some of the activities are entirely new art projects, while others suggest things like reading a story, attending a cultural event, or writing.
Below this initial display showing the list of documents and artwork images for your course is a drop-down menu to select a lesson. The online lesson includes links to the lesson video, the lesson plan (the same as in the Parents’ and Teachers’ Handbook), a student handout with vocabulary words, and response/evaluation questions for discussion. Some student handouts include patterns for students to use with their projects.
The lesson videos, taught by the program's creator, Marcia Osterink, were recorded in classroom settings but were edited for online presentation. They run an average of 15 to 20 minutes and have great background music playing when Osterink isn’t talking. You will need to pause the video at different points for students to do the activities. Every lesson video follows a similar format covering four components (although they are not delineated within the videos): the required materials, an introduction to the lesson (sometimes with a warm-up activity), Osterink guiding students as they work through a project, and examples of completed student artwork. Osterink gives step-by-step instruction to get students started on their projects, then she turns them loose to complete them, generally allowing lots of opportunity for individual expression.
There are a number of different ways to use the course's material. You can use the primary lesson videos on their own. The Parents’ and Teachers’ Handbook has additional suggestions for teaching each lesson, but you really don’t need more than what is on the videos. If you have the time, you can use some elements from the Handbook's lesson presentation along with a video lesson. Alternatively, you could teach the lessons yourself from the Handbook and skip the video lessons, but that will require much more lesson preparation and presentation time.
The Handbook often suggests using images of particular artworks as you teach the main lessons. Some of these are included within the artwork images for the level, but many are not. (You should be able to find the images on the internet.)
Some lessons have tie-ins to nursery rhymes, storybooks, images, or real life. These might be included in the video, in the Handbook, or in both. For example, in the lesson in the second course titled "The Snowy Day," the Handbook directs the teacher to read the book Snow by Roy McKie and P. D. Eastman, discuss the pictures, and talk about things that might be done on a snowy day. The video lesson has film footage of different snow scenes and snow play. Other lessons in the second course include tie-ins to nursery rhymes, such as "Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater" and "Hey Diddle Diddle." The tie-ins are age appropriate for each course. For example, in the sixth course, there are more sophisticated tie-ins to the game CLUE®, pictures of the Statue of Liberty, and pictures of Victorian-style homes.
The projects were all developed for use within a classroom setting, so almost all of them are easy enough for students to complete with minimal assistance in one session. There is a great deal of variety among the projects so that students can learn new techniques and skills as they work with the various art media. Some art concepts are repeated from course to course, but at a more challenging level and with different subject matter.
Supplies are ordered or obtained separately. Atelier’s Basic Art Supply Kit (used for all courses) includes a drawing sketchpad, colored construction paper, newsprint, tempera paints, colored and black marking pens, watercolors, colored chalk, crayons, two paint brushes (different sizes), a sponge, a drawing pencil, eraser, and glue. Some courses require other media such as pastels, modeling clay, tempera powder, tagboard, colored art tissue, liquid starch, burlap, and dowels. A chart in the Parents’ and Teachers’ Handbook lists all of the above items and more, and it shows which course require each of them.
In addition, you will need other items that you might already have on hand, such as fabric scraps, egg cartons, wood stain, paper bags, leaves, and fixative. There is a materials list for each lesson, and you will want to gather items in advance so they are on hand when needed.
Atelier Online makes it easy for homeschooling parents to give their children a comprehensive art education while also providing lots of flexibility as to which elements of the program to use.