Hand-crafted by the folks at The Art Instructor
Like a three-legged stool, our art room curriculum has been built as a complete foundation for students, using three deeply connected principles.


Everyone wants joy. If a student doesn’t enjoy creating art, then art will eventually be abandoned. Since we’re artists, we asked ouselves,

“What gives us joy?”

Having Fun

Teachers are always looking for the lessons that kids think are fun. It takes deliberate effort and time, though, to make a hard lesson really seem fun.

The other day, a whole group of some of our most rambunctious 3rd and 4th grade students said, “We’re having fun painting these gift boxes!” And amazingly, they were all diligently working on the project. What they didn’t realize, is that they were learning how to draw a cube in 3-point perspective, and the color mixing “game” lead them to use complimentary color mixing to soften and dull their shadow colors. Yay!

Self Expression

The number one complaint we hear from kids is, “at my other school art class they never let us do what we want to do.”

Artists have a deep desire to choose their subject, and invent new things – because that is the essence of creativity! All too often, lessons forget to add choices all along the way. We have coined a term, “Artists’ Choice”, that we use so they acknowledge that they’re getting choices. Sometimes the whole lesson is a full-on Artists’ Choice day, and everyone always cheers!


Being encouraged is helpful, but only if you trust your encourager to tell you the truth, and kindly. A friend who always tells you your work is good, even when you’re unhappy with it, loses your trust. Being critiqued, however, is only encouraging if you have specifically asked for help, and know you need to change things but don’t know how. Our lessons remind you to ask for permission to gently offer suggestions. We even have Teacher Talks that you can read aloud or paraphrase.


Playing music while learning and practicing creates stronger pathways in the brain – and it’s fun!


Being proficient is a constant desire for our students.

“My work doesn’t look right!” is heard in the classroom often, but we tell them, that realization is itself a vital skill.


Handling graphite, paints, brushes, specific papers, canvas, ink, pastels and more, is a lot more fun if you know what they do and can control them. Ink, for instance, is difficult to control and can be very messy. We tell our students that ink is like electricity; if you have safeguards in place and can make it do what you want, it’s fantastic. That’s why we stick the bottles down on a plate so they don’t turn over, and why we give everyone a ziplock bag to place the bottles in. No more spills.

If you want to know what works, there are always recommendations in the lessons for certain types of materials that we know are the best – for the least cost.


Most of technique is about movement and holding tools in a certain way. We start early with “color dancing” for the youngest students, and we encourage the use of music throughout the full range of ages.

One of our most revolutionary methods, is in our watercolor lessons. We have a simple phrase that changes everything for the student, eliminating the need for lengthy explanations about the nature of the paints and paradigm shifts for how you manage it.


Practice is almost a bad word to some artists. They believe they were born with their talent and only had to walk up to the canvas and begin. Of course, they won’t show you their work from a few years back!

We ask our students, “where are the DaVinci and Rembrandt paintings from when they were your age?” It’s obvious that they threw away all of their training work from an early age (we call them Learners). Likewise, artists must understand the importance of doing the same things over and over, just like musicians do. Ok. well a little different, but the idea of practice is vital. The Art Instructor lessons bring repetition of certain techniques and methods but in a creative way, so that students don’t feel like they’re just reviewing something they’ve already done.


Understanding how to do things faster and easier is pretty awesome, but even more important, is to retain that information.

Timing is very important for that.


It’s pretty well known that discovery teaching helps students retain their lessons. Often we’ll have them start a task they’re not ready for. This creates an urgent need, which we can then fill right away. This is how we create the perfect timing for teaching specific methods and techniques.


Working out simple ways to convey a complex subject is near and dear to our hearts. You can imagine us in a laboratory, working day and night to improve communication and understanding with simple analogies and schemas. After decades of this, we’re getting pretty good at it.

Mnemonic Devices

One of our best examples of this is the “Three Steps to Accuracy”. We also have, 7 steps to painting; color journals, graphic posters, and more.

Concrete Concepts

Don’t get us started on all the abstract terminology that the adult art world uses that kids can’t easily understand. “Negative Space”, for instance, has been changed to “Air Shapes”.

Careful References

Often a subject in a photo seems like it should work, but is too hard for a student to do. This damages their confidence. Our reference photos are chosen with the specific project in mind, and are known to lead to more success stories, based on our own experimentation with these lessons.

Printed Guides

PDFs are in almost every lesson, and some have several. Students may share a reference or guide at times, or get a special handout they can keep. We have worksheets you can print on card stock, that students can work directly on. Our Color worksheets and journals are very popular!

Learning Styles

Sometimes we have game sheets, and sometimes we have demonstrations. Every now and then students get to write a few things down. The key is to approach insights in different ways.

Every Lesson Tells You How Much Emphasis Is On Each Area



Connect the Mind

This lesson provides understanding



Connect the Hand

This lesson shows application and movement



Connect the Heart

This lesson is about fun and self-expression

How The Art Instructor's CONN3CTED Curriculum Is Balanced

While individual lessons are sometimes heavily weighted towards one or two of the 3 principles, over time they even and become balanced.




The Art Instructor's CONN3CTED Curriculum Is Comprehensive

What Some Lesson
Sites Are Like:

You get some
building materials.

What Other Lesson
Sites Are Like:

You get some
parts to assemble.

What Our
Site Is Like:

You get it all!
It’s finished & connected.

“The Art Instructor lessons took more than half my prep time away. There is peace of mind that all the details have been thought about and I can just do what I love to do the most, teach!”
Lauren Reese
Elementary Art Teacher

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