When I started reading art and craft books in a systematic way, I was looking for resources for my community: I volunteer at a center with more than 80 kids from all ages, and we painted a lot. You can see other recommendations here and here.
However, as Instagram began to grow in the Art Education community, I learned a few things, and these books are a great excuse to introduce you to some of them. I hope they help!
Let’s start with a legend:
Mini-Masterpieces: Exploring Art History with Hands-On Projects for Kids by Laura Lohmann.
Painted Paper Art was born as a blog, and has grown over the decades as THE reference place for painting instructions for kids. She has a great tutorial to make painted paper (which is a life changer), but the main asset Laura has is the clarity and confidence she transmits to her young artists.
Under her guidance, they truly create masterpieces. And of course her book is full of ideas that you can accomplish at home. As an elementary art teacher, she knows the ins and outs of giving useful information, being inspired by numerous artists and creating stunning works of art, and I have to admire her skill at organizing this book.
First, her list of materials is the most appropriate I’ve seen in a while, simple enough but emphasizing on quality.
Second, the 52 art projects displayed in this book are well thought out for ages 5-12, at all different skill levels. There are some studies in color here that seem simple enough, but that demonstrate why no other art instructor out there had decided to tackle this before her, I think that they were waiting for her book to appear first!
Lastly, it is a great investment. If you want to learn how to teach art to kids, this will be my first recommendation.
Laura Lohmann has a web page, an Instagram account, and an awesome TPT page. As a side note, I would recommend parents to check out Teachers Pay Teachers often, because there are a ton of lessons for different things and sometimes they offer free stuff. Lots of people benefit from that page alone.
Publisher: Innovation Press
BISAC Categories: Activities Elementary
Next, let’s focus on a rising star:
Exactly You! The Shape of Your Feelings by Sarah Krajewski
Sarah Krajewski is a young elementary teacher, artist and instagrammer. She is behind Art Room Glitter Fairy, and also writes a lot at the Art of Education University. This is her first book.
Of course, the theme and way it is presented respond to a year that has been rough to most and very troublesome to others. It deals with big feelings such as anxiety, depression, and self-esteem. It has one aim in mind, and it is to broach this subject with her young students through art.
It also comes with a couple of exercises in the back of the book, which are simple and clever enough, like the circle of control (where you get to scribble furiously away, and then delimit what it’s in your power to control). Her love of abstract art and collage seeps out of every page and I would very much like to see more of her work on the future.
Publisher: Orange Hat Publishing
BISAC Categories: Emotions & Feelings -Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
At her Insta she does a lot of interviews featuring a diverse set of art teachers and designers. When the Pandemic first hit, she, along Cassie Stephens, launched a series of daily videos to entertain kids and invite them to do art at home with limited resources. They got me and countless children through a very rough time, and I thank them for it.
Lastly, this book is an excuse to talk to you about the resource it comes in:
Crayola (R) Color in Culture by Mari C. Schuh
With beautiful photos designed to emphasize color in different cultures, this book is a part of a series of explorations Crayola has been developing for its new brand: CreatEd.
Basically, CreatEd anticipated the need of at-home resources paired with digital content. I intuitively feel that many parents might have decided to drop school altogether and are opting for homeschooling until further notice. Crayola is trying hard to provide for content both to schools and to parents, and devising lesson plans that include, of course, some of its various art making materials.
Although I feel that the lesson prompts contained in this packages are a bit simple yet, I also think that they are going to get better. Plus, I love artistic supplies. The lesson plans featured in their web page are another thing altogether: they provide doable projects that emphasize STEAM content and cultural diversity. Also, last year, Crayola released a Colors of the World boxed set with 24 different skin tones, which is a great step towards representation.
Publisher: Lerner Publications (Tm)
Publish Date: January 01, 2018
CreatEd has a web page, a Facebook page, lesson plans, and sets on sale to match. It’s striving to build a community around these resources and has been hosting some Read Along, Draw Along features way into this 2021, the last one was with James Dean, author of Pete the Cat.