Teaching Art in the Primary Grades by Jerry E. Twitchell [Review + Giveaway]

Teaching art to children can be an intimidating prospect to those who feel like they aren't creative or skilled enough in the artistic method, but it doesn't have to be!  Read on for my review of Teaching Art in the Primary Grades and enter to win a gift basket of art supplies!

Title: Teaching Art in the Primary Grades: Sailing Through 1-2-3 Grades
Author: Jerry E. Twitchell
Published: 2019 by Redemption Press

About the Book:

"As Simple as 1-2-3.

Everything needed to structure and teach an effective art program for grades one to three is made simple for the home-school parent or teacher. This step-by-step process for teaching art is perfect for home-school teachers or parents with limited art skills or time to create their own programs. This system of insight, responses to judgments, ideas, and feelings aligns with public school and state visual arts requirements.  

Teaching Art in the Primary Grades is designed to foster lifelong interest in the arts, provide a gauge of what can be expected of children at various ages and grade levels, and present a baseline for measuring growth and skill.

Lesson plans with goals, objects, time frames, techniques, steps, illustrated examples, and assessment of growth are included."
The Artist Librarian Review:
As a children's librarian who received an undergraduate degree in studio art, I naturally gravitate toward planning children's arts and crafts programs at the library.  I often receive many comments from parents and caregivers expressing their thanks for this because they claim they themselves aren't creative, aren't confident in their ability to lead or provide these types of experiences for children.  Teaching Art in the Primary Grades: Sailing Through 1-2-3 Grades was written with these types of instructors in mind. 

Each lesson includes a viewpoint (an introduction for the teacher with the focus of the lesson), time frame (one to five 40 minute periods, depending on the project), techniques and general steps, a materials list, and assessment if applicable.  The lessons cover a wide range of mediums and techniques, exposing younger elementary school students to drawing, painting, weaving, collage, sculpting, mixed media, clay, printmaking, etc. The materials used are generally inexpensive, easily accessible or simple to substitute. 

Since this book is focused on early elementary school (grades 1 to 3), I feel that the lessons are suitable and accessible for teachers who may not be entirely confident in their artistic abilities.  In fact, since many of the lessons introduce basic art concepts and techniques (e.g. shading, pinch forming method with clay, basic weaving, etc.) I would suggest any un-confident teacher try some of the art projects for themselves to become familiar with the process before instructing others.  As they are introduced, art tools and terminology are briefly defined (e.g. a brayer for printmaking, the parts of a paintbrush, warp and weft in weaving, etc.) and I appreciated that the author included instructions for things such as cleaning and caring for brushes, because an artist is never too young to learn how to properly care for their tools.  Though no step-by-step photos are included, there are simple line drawings and other illustrations to help adequately visualize concepts and instructions.

Unfortunately, there are some elements that leave me unable to fully recommend this book.  The most glaring is in Unit I, Lesson 2 for second grade entitled "A Clay Me," the author refers to Unit I, Lesson 7: "My Clay Friend" from Grade 1 multiple times which includes a Play Dough Recipe and other resources a second grade instructor could use to help introduce the medium to students who may not have experienced crafting sculptures with clay.  However, I could not find the lesson "My Clay Friend" anywhere in my copy of this book or the table of contents listed in the e-book version I previewed online.  My best guess is that the lesson was mistakenly left out (since the last lesson in first grade's Unit I is Lesson 6) or the similarly titled Lesson 8, "My Puppet Friend," from Unit II was meant to replace this missing lesson but they forgot to remove references to "My Clay Friend."  However, I do think you would be able to get by and utilize the second grade lesson without this missing lesson with the instructions listed (or supplementing it with another book or online resource on clay sculpting).

I also wish that the author included more current material in his third grade bibliography on Native American art and reading list on off-loom weaving, both listed in Appendix A.  While there's nothing wrong with referring to titles from the 1960s-1970s, I question how easily accessible these books would be, even at a public library or through online used books stores.  Including some more recently publishing alternatives (even published within the last 20 years) would have been more ideal.

I believe most of my issues with this book is due to its nature as an indie/self published book.  However, though Redemption Press specializes in Christian titles and authors, it's important to note that this title is strictly on teaching art and there are no references to God or Christianity that I caught, so it could easily be utilized in a secular setting.  I plan to use my copy for ideas to introduce more art concepts and techniques in my children's arts and crafts program at a public library. Overall, if you are able to borrow or find this book on sale, definitely take a look and see if it will work for your needs. 

Did you enjoy art in early elementary school?  What was your most memorable art project during that time?

[Disclosure:I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes through participation of this blog tour.]

About the Author:

Jerry E. Twitchell, DEd, is a retired educational administrator and art and history instructor. With over thirty years of experience as a teacher and principal, Jerry has nurtured primary through secondary students to experience the excitement of art. In his work with parents, teachers, and especially children, he has sought to bring to life a love and passion for art.

A Note from the Author:
"Ever since I was young, I have always loved art. It was only natural for me to be teaching and sharing the love of art to young people. Over the years, a number of parents, students and fellow teachers and administrators suggested that I should write a book about teaching art, particularly to the emerging beginning artist. This would hopefully help them gain confidence in themselves in return would flow into their reading and writing subjects. After retiring, pondering and headaches, I started putting it together and throwing around ideas to myself on what should be included and 'Wala'…..here it is."


To celebrate his tour, Jerry is giving away gift basket with basic art supplies, Stack card, and a Athabascan People of The North coloring book! Be sure to comment on the blog stops for up to nine extra entries into the giveaway! See below or click here to enter.


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts! Comments are always welcomed and appreciated.

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