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At The Oaks Academy, we make it a point to expose students to a wealth of opportunities for learning outside of the typical classroom experience. While this includes some of our well-known activities like field trips and nature studies, it also includes what we call ‘specials’, or classes for art and music.
The Oaks Academy has a unique and rich arts program that is integrated into our student’s curriculum, meaning every activity that students do is connected to what they are learning in the classroom.
When learning about and practicing art, Oaks students are taught to study the techniques used by great artists and to imitate them. Through observation, narration, and practice, students study and attempt to replicate the masterpieces of the past to enhance their own innate ability.
We also employ the technique of Picture Study, developed and pioneered by Charlotte Mason, to introduce our students to art and artists in an interactive way. Picture study is a lesson built around examining a piece of art and getting to know the particular artist who created it.
By integrating art into our humanities curriculum focused around the historic timeline, we start the activity by examining the art and artist’s place in history. When given information about the piece of art and artist, students are able to point out events in history that overlap with the artist’s life or the date of the art piece. Then students carefully study the piece of art with the goal of observing as much detail as possible before having it taken out of sight to engage in a narration activity. During this time, the teacher will lead the class by asking questions like “What is the main subject of the art piece?” “What is in the background?” “What details do you remember seeing?”
After narrating, the students will observe the art again and reflect on what details they missed in their description of the art. Then students will begin the activity of replicating the piece of art – whether it is through a quick sketch or directed activity, with art techniques like adding shading and color, or with 3-dimensional sculpture creation.
Students in our Pre-K classes experience art class in their classrooms and engage in activities that develop their fine motor skills, such as drawing, coloring, and painting. They also begin the journey of exploring the principles and elements of art, such as learning colors and shapes.
Starting in Kindergarten, art activities are combined with other activities to support the learning that is happening in the classroom. Students also start to perform activities that directly relate to classroom studies, such as coloring puppets to be used in telling a story. By the end of 1st grade, art projects integrate more specifically with classroom studies, such as drawing animals that live on each continent that students are studying throughout the year.
In 2nd grade and beyond, art projects are more fully integrated with the grade’s academic study and build on a student’s knowledge of art principles and techniques. From refining their drawing and painting skills to textile and sculpture work, students create and study art to support their academic studies time and time again.
A few key art projects that are always memorable are the 2nd Grade’s annual Egyptian Museum, Roman Villas re-created by students in the 3rd grade, and castles researched and designed by our 4th grade students.
Gradually building on the lessons and experiences of their lower school education, students continue their art curriculum at the middle school with a more direct connection between the art projects and classroom studies, such as students in 6th grade re-creating textiles and stamps as they study Africa and the same objects made in history there.
Students also build a stronger skillset of art techniques and modes of art, such as using various types of media and styles of art, including more modern and pop art. In 7th and 8th grade, students can choose to be an “Art Major” (compared to a “Music Major”) and have a larger amount of time in their class schedule where they can focus on more advanced art projects and techniques.
Art is a celebrated aspect of education here at The Oaks Academy, and we pride ourselves on how we are able to use it to enhance our curriculum as well as foster the creative nature of growing minds. While we showcase student art throughout the year in our hallways for parents and students to see, we also celebrate it during our annual Spring Fling activities with a special showcase for each grade that highlights the artwork from throughout the year, allowing us to reflect on all that was learned.
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