5 At-Home Lessons in the Arts for Middle Schoolers
By Sasa Afredi
Art is both a great method for self-expression and an avenue for dynamic and fun learning. Art projects can require a lot of mental focus and flexibility, but with minimal costs. Maximize at-home learning by supplementing core lessons with art projects that stimulate the creative mind, as well as your middle schooler’s critical-thinking skills. Consider incorporating these at-home art lessons into your daily curriculum:
1. Soap and candle making
Making soap or candles is a great way to make something that is practical, but also fun and creative. For these art projects, you will need some basic supplies and an adult to supervise the use more complicated equipment, such as the stove or a food processor. Will you make candles the same way settlers did in the 1700s? Are you creating soap from entirely organic ingredients? Use these fun exercises as a way to build upon lessons in chemistry or history. You can find variations of youth-friendly recipes online, where you can mix and match herbal ingredients, essential oils, textures, scents, and designs.
2. Construct a molecule
Make science something your child experiments with every day. It can be difficult to tie science to everyday life—particularly when you discuss concepts that can’t always be seen with the naked eye. Middle school students should be able to conceptualize the cellular and molecular structure of living matter. By building tactile learning aids, you are allowing your young scientist to visualize each element in the overall design and its function. Your child will be able to see the hierarchy between matter, molecules, and atoms. Pick up a few supplies (like toothpicks, cornstarch clay, and paint), and let your student get to work. The combination of artistic effort and knowledge recall can help reinforce your at-home science lessons.
3. Write and perform a play
Allow your students to unleash their imaginative side through a story or play. They will likely enjoy the creative aspect of writing and producing a play so much that they won’t even realize the work they are putting into developing writing and communication skills. Discuss concepts like conflict, plot lines, and character development. Then, use household items to design sets and costumes, and allow the fun to unfold. This is also the perfect opportunity to teach about narrative voice, specialized manuscript terminology, and the history of the performing arts in society and culture. For an additional academic boost, ask your students to write and perform the play based on a previously assigned reading.
4. Compose a song or learn to play music
Whether learning an instrument or composing their own songs, music is an excellent way to enrich a middle school-level curriculum. Musicianship can help boost critical-thinking skills, as performers reading music are required to process several bits of information at once. The emotional benefits of learning and playing a musical instrument are manifold as well. While this may seem like a costly endeavor, there are plenty of ways to curb spending by renting or borrowing instruments, sharing musical lessons with siblings or neighbors, and seeking out materials online. If your student has previous experience with a musical instrument, he or she can delve into the world of music theory and learn about the elements of songwriting.
5. Design products for sale
Educational art can also include the development of more practical skills. Creating jewelry, for example, is a great way to teach your middle schooler about merging passion with work ethic and business sense. Your student will conceptualize and craft a product to sell among family, friends, and the community. You can work with your student to develop a “budget”—how much money should he or she spend to buy supplies, and how much can he or she realistically expect to make by selling the finished goods? Reflect upon the price differences between store-bought items and homemade items. This can be a great lesson in responsibility and fiscal awareness for your middle schooler.
You can also encourage your student to donate a percentage or all of the proceeds to a local charity, emphasizing the importance of generosity and involvement in the community. Whether its crocheting for a cause or organizing a bake sale for the local fire station, your student can pair creativity and passion with doing good.
Art is an excellent way to show your middle schoolers the interactive and creative side of learning. By introducing fun crafts into your day-to-day lessons, you’re helping your students develop special skills and interests that have benefits beyond the realm of the arts. Engaging and reinforcing, art lessons can boost your child’s interest in learning while challenging him or her to tackle something new.
Sasa Afredi is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, a global marketplace for finding independent tutors.