How I Teach Fine Arts to Multiple Ages Using the Charlotte Mason Method

Jan 17, 2014

The fine arts are important to developing a well-rounded education for our children. Including the arts is one of the foundations of a liberal arts education. Find out how this mom teaches the fine arts using the Charlotte Mason method. #homeschool #charlottemason

This is day #5 in my series on "How I Teach to Multiple Ages Using the Charlotte Mason Method." 

There is a lack of appreciation for the arts.

Once upon a time, the fine arts were taught to all students, whether before the day of institutional learning, or even within those institutions.

Children were taught an appreciate for music, and how to play instruments as a matter of standard course. They learned to paint, draw, and learned about the artists and composers. 

We now live in a society that invalidates and minimizes any interest in those things.

The schools have all but done away with music and art to redirect money elsewhere. Kids who play instruments are the the butts of jokes in school. Students who want to study music and art in college are portrayed as flakey, young people with their heads in the clouds. 

As for me, I believe n
o education is complete without fine arts. 

There are so many benefits from learning fine arts. Why would we deprive our children of these things? I'm grateful that I can decide what to teach my children. 

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In our homeschool, the fine arts are included in our family studies.

What We Study in Our Fine Arts Education

Our fine arts education includes:
  • Picture Study
  • Artist Study
  • Music Study
  • Composer Study
  • Drawing
Those are the basics. Beyond that, whatever natural talents or interests the children have are pursued.  

How I Plan our Fine Arts Lessons

The planning of the basics above is actually easy.

First, I choose a composer and an artist to study for 12 weeks.
Next, I choose six pieces of work from each of them. 

Example: Vincent van Gogh is the artist and Mozart is the composer. For 12 weeks, we will read about van Gogh and Mozart using living books. We may do projects play games and color pictures of them. 

We will also study their works. 

How to Conduct a Picture Study

Since we're studying the artist for 12 weeks and we've chosen 6 painting. We will study each painting for two weeks.

Twice each week (Monday and Wednesday), I do the following:

  • Show the children the painting. For five minutes, the children quietly study the painting. 
  • After the time ends, I remove the painting and ask them to tell me what they saw (narration). They may tell me what colors they saw or tell me about the brush strokes. They may relate the story they "see" in the painting. Whatever they saw, they will tell me. (Note: Very young children or children new to picture study may need prompting.)
That's all there is to it!

By exposing the children to art and asking them to narrate it, not only are the children developing an appreciation and awareness for art, but their skills of observation, memory, narration and the habit of attention are also being strengthened. 

The same applies to music study.

How to Conduct Music Study

This is very similar to the picture study. We've chosen a composer to study for 12 weeks and so have chosen 6 compositions to study for two weeks each.

Twice each week (Tuesday and Thursday), I do the following:

  • Play the composition while the children listen quietly. 
  • Afterwards, the children tell me about the composition. The children narrate anything they wish about what they heard. Again, prompting may be necessary for the young or those new to the activity. Was the music fast? Slow? Can the children identify any instruments? Did the music sound happy? Sad?  

Tips for Composer Studies

For young children:

During the 12 weeks of study, we read living books about the composer. For younger children, I read and the children narrate (See this how-to post on narration, copywork and dictation). If the children are older, they can read and narrate or do their dictation. 

For the 8-13 year old child: I use A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers. This ready-made curriculum is excellent its own or as a supplement to the above process. This is a very open-and-go curriculum we've enjoyed this year full of biographies, suggested pieces of music and other activities. The child makes a folderbook on each composer. My daughter has truly enjoyed this composer curriculum. (See our study of Antonio Vivaldi here.) I've written a review of this curriculum, if you'd like to see that. 

For high school students:

High school students can do in-depth studies of composers, doing research and writing papers on the composer.

How to Conduct Artist Studies

There is no difference in how a composer and artist study is conducted. All of the information I've given above, applies to studying artists.

The only exception would be the Young Scholar's Guide to Composers curriculum, all the studying is the same. While there is no "Young Scholar's Guide to Artists," you can do much the same thing. Read living books. Gather information and make folderbooks or lapbooks.

Pursuing Talents and Interests

Alexis' drawings

Most of my children have natural talents in the arts. To name a few...

  • Lee Anne sings and draws. She's great at woodwork and currently designing and building sets for theater and movies. 
  • Alexis draws, paints, sings, and is an excellent photographer
  • Michael draws, paints, composes and plays piano.
Whatever their individual interests are, we find ways to purse them. Currently, Lorelai is interested in chalk pastel art. In order to satisfy this interest, she's been using A Simple Start in Chalk Pastels.

I don't know if this will be a life-long interest, but it's a huge interest right now. 

She enjoys creating art with this medium and the lessons are so very simple to follow. 

It hasn't always been easy, as a single mom, to provide all the art materials my kids want. It's not easy, but it's worth it. 

Do you teach the fine arts in your homeschool? What do you use? 

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  1. Well, it is a nice to hear that you taught a very nice and amazing art to people. It is appreciable work for sure. Thanks for sharing this with us inspiring other doing so.

    1. Thank you for visiting and for you kind comment.


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