Overview of the art curriculum for students from 4 to 8 years old

The study of visual arts begins with the introduction of skills and concepts that may be new for some students, because of their different developmental levels when entering primary school. Therefore, the first years’ programmes emphasize on joyful exploration and discovery.

Children are exposed to many manipulative materials and encouraged to explore with them in a wide variety of open-ended ways. Self-expression and the development of a sense of creative empowerment are encouraged.

This curriculum allows students the opportunities to look at, feel and interact with stimuli. They are encouraged to create an individualized response based on their own observations.

Students  engage in a variety of drawing, painting, print-making, and sculpting activities and are introduced to and learn to use a variety of art tools, materials, and techniques. They learn about some of the elements and principles of design and begin to describe how the elements are used by artists. They generate and develop visual ideas, using imagination, observation and experiments with materials. And they apply their knowledge of design elements and principles to create works of art that tell stories, express thoughts, feelings and insights.

Overall design principles

The following modules aim at developing the children’s understanding of design: Contrast, repetition and rhythm, variety, emphasis, proportion, balance, unity and harmony, and movement. Each school year has a specific focus, for instance, contrast, or repetition and rythm. They are taught awareness of line, shape, colour and tone, texture, pattern and rhythm, as well as space. The concepts above and related skills are derived from the visual elements and are developed as work is completed.

Drawing: Lines, Shapes &  Space

This module supports the development of drafting and writing skills. Students trace and learn to recognize a variety of lines: straight, jagged, curved, broken, dashed, spiral, straight, wavy, zigzag, thick, thin, dotted lines, etc. They recognise lines in art and everyday objects (natural and human-made). They learn about horizontal, vertical, diagonal lines, as well as lines that show motion (e.g., pointy, curvy) and lines inside shapes. They also experiment the connections between lines and shapes: Geometric and organic shapes and forms of familiar objects. They experiment with symmetrical shapes and forms (e.g., buildings), composite shapes,  symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes and forms in both the human-made environment and the natural world.

Students recognize objects in the distance as smaller and closer to the top of a visual support. They depict shapes and lines closer together or farther apart. They’re introduced to the horizon line and work on the notion of space by working on the outside and inside parts of shapes and objects, using colouring and a variety of media. The older students are initiated to foreground, middle ground, and background, as well as the overlapping of objects to give the illusion of depth.

Colour & Painting

This module initiates students to colour. Students name and learn about primary and secondary colours and acquire a good understanding of the colour wheel. They experiment with the colours, using a variety of media, such as paint, pigments, inks, colorants and gels. They produce secondary colours, such as violet, orange, green, by mixing equal amounts of primary colours. They learn about warm and cold colors and how to paint with a limited palette. They’re introduced to the notions of value via tint making, and of contrast, by distinguishing levels of light and dark.  Students also use colour to express emotion.

2D & Cutting/Folding/Pasting

This module supports the development of fine motor movements, students’ dexterity and manuel skills. They’re initiated to 2D and 3D paper craft making, as well as paper mosaic by learning to tear, fold, produce simple and more complex cut-outs and to paste things together using .

Textures, Fabrics & Weaving

Students identify textures of familiar objects (e.g., fuzzy, prickly, bumpy, smooth) and changes in texture. They’re initiated to patterns of lines to show texture (e.g., the texture of a snake’s skin) and how to transfer texture. As they acquire more knowledge and experience, they learn about real versus visual or illusory texture.

This module equally supports the development of fine motor movements and students’ dexterity and manuel skills. They acquire understanding of alternation between above and below, and start to experiment with simple and more complex patterns. They create with a variety of media ranging from rope, to wool and other organic materials.

“Rythme de la joie” (1931) by Robert Delaunay – used as an Art History support

Modeling & Construction

This module initiates students to 3D creation and combines the acquisition of gross and fine motor skills. Students work with clay, salt dough and polymer clay and learn to produce basic shapes that allow them to create simple objects and characters. They also experiment with modeling tools, printmaking and textures, as well as with moulding.

Art History & Aesthetics

This module aims at developing students observation abilities, their capacity to interpret and understand a picture, as well as, their own sense of beauty, via famous works of art. The goal here is to introduce students to the basic elements of art and to show them how artists use these elements in different ways in their work. Students are asked to answer questions as they look carefully at paintings and sculpture to identify the elements and analyze how they are used by different artists. Individual lessons focus on each element of art: Color, line, shape, form and texture. Moreover, these classes also  present works of art that contain subjects and learning milestones of the schools’ teaching curriculum.