Technology is remarkable. On my phone, I can access a dictionary, a calculator, weather and traffic reports, the Bible, the news, what people are thinking about any given topic at this very moment, a field guide, a whole library of eBooks, and of course, if I don't know the answer to a question, I can just ask Siri to google it.
With all of that knowledge accessible from my phone, why learn anything at all?
I recently reread an article titled "How Knowledge Helps" by Daniel T Willingham, who is the author of a whole slew of books about how people learn and education in America. During a time when I was researching what really worked in education, I was influenced enough by the conclusions of articles like this and books like The Knowledge Deficit, by E D Hirsch to make more time in our homeschool day for literature, history, and science than I did for the three Rs.
A wide base of general knowledge is key to unlocking the doors of learning. Here are a few takeaways from "How Knowledge Helps" to support why:
Knowledge is Essential for Reading Comprehension
"The ability to read a text and make sense of it is highly correlated to background knowledge." --from "How Knowledge Helps" by Daniel T Willingham
When I read, there is a wide gap in my understanding of topics that I know about and topics I don't know much about at all despite the fact that my reading ability is very high. I can read a play by Shakespeare with better comprehension than a scientific article written in modern English because of the presence or lack of background knowledge.
If I were to read several recaps of sporting events, I would understand an article about baseball better than an article about football. And I would understand the football article better than the article about cricket.
Kids are no different than adults. They read with greater understanding when they already know the topic they are reading about. Is your child into dinosaurs, astronomy, or birds? She probably is a stronger reader on that topic than she is on any other scientific topic.
"People with rich general knowledge rarely have to interrupt reading in order to consciously search for connections." --from "How Knowledge Helps" by Daniel T Willingham
General knowledge means not having to google a fact or a definition in the middle of reading just to understand what is going on. When we can read uninterrupted, we understand more and learn more.
A Base of Knowledge Makes Future Learning Easier
"(Knowledge) makes learning easier. Knowledge is not only cumulative, it grows exponentially. Those with a rich base of factual knowledge find it easier to learn more--the rich get richer." --from "How Knowledge Helps" by Daniel T Willingham
The child who learned about the history of Ancient Israel in sunday school will have an easier time fitting the histories of Ancient Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Greece, and Rome into his understanding of ancient history, because all of their histories are intertwined.
A child well acquainted with mythology through a book like D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths, will have an easier time understanding many literary allusions in literature and poetry.
A child with knowledge of the natural world around her will have a much easier time when she studies biology formally that a child who does not have similar experience.
Simply knowing something about a subject makes it more likely that new knowledge will "stick."
Knowledge is a Prerequisite for Critcal Thinking
"If we want our students to think critically, they must have something to think about." --from "How Knowledge Helps" by Daniel T Willingham
In other words, if you don't know anything, you really don't have much to think about. Workbooks and activities that promote critical thinking skills are generally bunk since they are usually separated from the real building of the knowledge base for actual critical thinking.
In real life, we can't critically think about something that we know nothing about. I can't throw together a dinner with whatever-is-in-the-fridge if I don't have a basic knowledge of cooking. I can't pop the hood of my car and figure out what is making that weird sound if I have no knowledge of the inner workings of cars. I can't form a real opinion on the daily news if I don't have a knowledge of politics and history. Day to day life requires critical thinking and problem solving to make it through and without the right knowledge, we can't think or problem solve our way through life.
Application: What I do to Ensure My Kids have a Broad Base of Knowledge
I adopted Charlotte Mason style short lessons around the same time I decided that I was going to make sure that my kids had a content rich education. This ensured that I could hit every subject, every day and still be done by lunch.
Being exposed to a wide variety of books is the best way to increase a child's knowledge. We visit the library weekly, and for my younger kids I check out a variety of picture books from a variety of sections including: general picture books, folktales and fairy tales, natural science, art and hobbies, poetry, and history.
My my oldest son loves reading about imaginary worlds, funny stories about kids his age, war stories, and mythology. When I plan his reading list for the school year, I intentionally include types of books and topics he wouldn't pick up on his own such as, biographies, historical fiction, and classic children's literature.
I also cycle through eras of history and science topics with the whole family so we can build a broad base of knowledge that will be foundational to the rest of their education.
For Further Reading
ED Hirsch Jr also addresses the need for a knowledge based education in The Knowledge Deficit: Closing the Shocking Education Gap for American Children
I really want to read the book When Can You Trust the Experts?: How to Tell Good Science from Bad in Education, by Daniel T Willingham because I am so tired of seeing crazy educational practices that are supposedly "research based" but in real life seem to be confusing students.
Thanks for reading!
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My baby boy turned four this week. I feel like I can think of a three year old as my baby, but a four year old, I have to think of as my little boy.
He wanted to do just what his big brother did for his last birthday so we played laser tag. Since he's not big enough to carry all of the laser tag gear himself, my husband and I took turns carrying his pack while he carried the laser. Of course, that was followed by dinner and cake and presents and the usual birthday joy.
We spent a lot of time outside this week with the extra daylight time. Am I the only one who likes daylight savings? One of my boy's favorite presents was the Y Glider scooter we bought him. Our daughter had the same scooter, but in pink. We like it for young kids because it's easy for kids to learn to ride, hard for them to fall off of, and fast enough to be fun!
* * * * *
We have been studying the same topics and using the same books that we did in February, but the sun is out this month and everyone is so much happier and productive.
Our favorite read aloud right now is Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick.
We have had some laugh out loud moments as we learn about the fascinating life of one of the greatest minds of all time and his contributions to science. This book has sparked more conversation than any other read aloud we have used this year. The science is so well explained, too, which I appreciate as a non-sciencey person.
* * * * *
I have several books going at once. I am finding that I read more often if I have a few to choose from. These are the titles I have on my bedstand and kindle app:
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
The Scartett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (this one's a freebie for Kindle)
Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson
Home Education by Charlotte Mason
* * * * *
This week, I wrote abouthow I am helping my very dysgraphic son write somewhat legibly in notebooks and I also wrote about taking a little time everyday for myself for real rest (the Sabbath/Schole type of rest we need.)
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I hit the end of last week and I was exhausted. In addition to five days of cycling through my typical duties of feeding my family, running a homeschool, keeping the house and yard clean enough, transporting to and from activities, and monitoring my kid's behavior and hygiene, I also had a couple of evenings where my husband was home really late from work , a birthday to plan for, a math unit that turned out to be much harder that I hand anticipated, and we had just been camping, so I had the after camping chores to do, too. I was on my feet for nearly five days straight and the work still wasn't done. It's no wonder I could barely think by the time Friday rolled around so I texted my husband to please plan on my not being around for a stretch of time on Saturday.
After a walk and a visit to the bookstore, my mind cleared enough to realize that I had not taken a single hour during the week to just read a book or write a little or draw a picture or sit in the garden to soak up some sunshine and enjoy the signs of spring. I had neither renewed my mind nor my soul.
I needed rest. Not the zone out on the couch with the TV or smartphone type of relaxing that is merely an escape from life, but the deep soul rest that Christians call Sabbath and classical educators call scholé. I thought about how I could work in a little scholé time in during the week.
A couple of friends in college had introduced me to the concept of a 24 hour Sabbath, where a person could choose a 24 hour block of time, preferably overlapping Sunday church services, during which no regular work (such as studying or a job) could be done. If you started your Sabbath after dinner Saturday night, you would have 24 hours of rest before hitting the books on Sunday evening. I tested out the 24 hour Sabbath before I committed to it, and after a few week of getting a lot of work done while always having a Sunday to devote to leisure, I was sold and kept a Sabbath all through college.
As a full time mom, a 24 hour Sabbath would be impossible for my work was always before me as I had young kids who need feeding, and dressing, and bathing, and loving attention whether it was Tuesday or Sunday.
The Lord models rest for us in the very first chapter of Genesis. He creates for six days and on the seventh he rests. Later, we read in the Gospels that Jesus spends his days healing and preaching and spending time with children, but he also slips away from the crowds to pray. If the God of the universe takes time to rest, perhaps I should, too.
God shows us that there is a proper cycle of work and leisure. Work is followed by rest. The next round of work should not start until rest has been taken.
What if, within each 24 hour period, I were to carve out one hour for rest for every six hours of work? What would my day look like if I intentionally followed a schedule of work and rest? It would probably look something like this schedule where I the leisure time is blue and the work time is orange:
6:00 Quiet. Coffee. Read the Bible. Pray. Journal. Read.
7:00-1:00 Breakfast. Dishes. Get kids ready for the day. Homeschool. Laundry. Lunch. Dishes.
1:00-2:00 Read or Paint or Write or Gather a bouquet of flowers or Talk to a friend or Sit in the sun and daydream.
2:00-8:00 Laundry. Clean. Exercise. Plan. Make phone calls. Dinner. Baths. Put kids to bed.
8:00-10:00 Get ready for bed. Talk to husband. Read. Watch a show.
That hour of rest in the middle of the day is huge, but I have to be intentional not to flop on the couch and waste time on Instagram because even though it occupies my attention, it is not restful.
Without that carefully placed hour of leisure in the middle of the schedule, my day would probably look something like this:
6:00 Drag myself out of bed to read the Bible and hopefully pray.
7:00-8:00 Breakfast. Dishes. Get kids ready for the day. Homeschool. Laundry. Lunch. Dishes. More laundry. Clean. Plan. Be grumpy. Forget something. Dinner. Baths. Put kids to bed.
8:00-11:00 Get ready for bed. Complain to husband. Instagram. Watch a show. Stay up too late.
The first schedule is so much better than the second and I can say so because I've tested both. I've probably spent far too many days following the rest-less schedule than the first, but the days when I follow the first are so much better.
One of the reasons I began homeschooling my oldest son was that, despite being a bright kid, he was shutting down in school due to his struggles with severe dysgraphia. This post highlights just a little of what I have done to help him learn with dysgraphia.
One of the biggest challenges with helping a dysgraphic student is getting him to the point where he can write legibly and independently.
While my dysgraphic son will happily write stories and comics for fun (he wants to be an author someday), it is difficult for anyone to read what he has written.
While typing is the best option for accommodating dysgphia, I consider being able to write with a pencil or pen an essential skill for learning and communicating. Keeping a notebook of research and ideas is such an effective tool for lifelong learning. No computer program or phone/tablet app comes close to the creative power of a pen and pencil.
So I am on a journey to help my son be able to write legibly enough to be able to read his own writing. The biggest success I have had helping my son write legibly was the day I handed him a graph paper notebook and instructed him to put one letter inside of each square.
In the same day his handwriting went from this journal entry on presidents day:
To this science notebook entry later in the day:
You can see that the top example is a jumbled mess of letters. His dysgraphia makes it hard for him to stay on the lines and space his letters. The second example, while he still couldn't stay on the lines, he could more or less stay in the box. The spacing took care of itself. I was ecstatic that he could write a short narration that was also readable, that I did a happy mom dance. Since then, graph paper has been a life saver for us. We use graph paper for math and his science notebook (pictured above) and a few other things. (I have found 4 squares per inch graph paper to be the best to help with handwriting.)
We have recently added a commonplace book to my son's set of learning tools, mainly because it was a part of Writing and Rhetoric Book 6. Otherwise, I would have put it off a couple of years since legible handwriting would seem to be a prerequisite to that type of book.
For his commonplace book, I decided to simultaneously work on writing on lined paper with him. Thankfully, I have figured out a way for him to keep a legible commonplace book without making him feel like I'm helping him too much.
I very lightly write out my son's commonplace passage for him in pencil and he traces it with pencil. This becomes his handwriting practice since he still has issues forming some letters and with placing words on regular, lined paper. I'm hoping this practice will help him get a feel for writing on lined paper and spacing correctly between letters and words. You can see the difference between what he traces and what he writes on his own below.
I leave a space after each entry so he can either rewrite the passage in his own words, comment on the passage, or interpret the passage however he chooses.
As you can see, he always chooses to write a short comic illustrating the truth of the passage.
This is just a little of what I do to help my son learn well with dysgraphia. I hope to write more about dysgraphia and homeschooling in the near future.
I have determined that I would be very unhappy if I lived any further north than I do. Another month without regular intervals of warm sunshine would be too rough on my mental health. Happily, spring is coming even though it seems like the clouds keep rolling in.
We managed to go on a short camping trip to Half Moon Bay this past weekend and were graced with better weather than was forecasted for the weekend. On the day we left, we battled rain, hail, and high winds as we packed up to go home. A few pictures from the fair weather end of our trip:
Meanwhile, on the homeschool front, I have been thinking ahead to what math program to move my son to next year since he will be done with the Singapore Math elementary series. Do I press forward with Singapore's middle school program which is an integrated math program where he will end up somewhere between Geometry and Algebra II when he finishes in 8th grade? Do I leave Singapore and go straight to pre-Algebra (and then which one?) or work on math skills for a year in a 7th grade math before moving on to pre-Algebra next year? Grrr. Too many choices!
I am pretty much settled on putting my daughter in Singapore Math for her first grade year. We did the first half of Saxon 1 for her kindergarten year. I don't like the teacher's manual because it's bulky and scripted and she doesn't like the workbook pages because they are all kind of the same. Right now we are doing the daily hands on activity and one side of every other workbook page. She also does an online math program called ST Math that we have a subscription to through our charter school. It's cute and fun and involves a lot of problem solving.
I really need an hour sans kids in a bookstore or a library so I can make a list of books I want to read. The booktable at Costco hasn't been cutting it lately. In the mornings, I have been working through this read through the Bible in a year plan...for almost two years now. But I'm almost done with it, so yay!
Lately, I feel like going through some of the classics that I read in high school and college just to see what I get out of them with, ahem, two more decades of life experience under my belt. On my phone, I am reading The Scarlett Letter but got bogged down in the first part. There is an awful lot of rambling before the actual story of Hester Prynne even starts. While the writing was interesting, part I left me not that excited to open my Kindle app when so many other apps were right there.
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When it comes to finding supplements for history lessons, my best friend is the library and my second best friend is Amazon. Of course, the reason for that is that reading a book is far easier, less expensive, and less messy than doing a hands on project, every single time we do history. Here are some of my favorite picture books for learning Greek History with my kiddos.
Short quotes from Socrates are interwoven thoroughout his life story in the picture book, Wise Guy: The Life and Philosophy of Socrates by MD Usher. For older students, historical information is included in side "scrolls."
Young Pythagoras is always working out the problems he sees in the world around him sith math in What's Your Angle Pythagoras and Pythagoras and the Ratios by Julie Ellis.
The Librarian who Measured the Earth tells the story of Eratosthenes his life of curiosity and his great accomplishment of figuring out the circumference of the Earth.
A gorgeously illustrated work to introduce children to Homer's most famous work is The Odyssey adapted by Rosemary Sutcliff, illustrated by Alan Lee (originally called The Wanderings of Odysseus)
Also check out the gorgeously illustrated The Illiad by Rosemary Sutcliff, illustrated by Alan Lee (also called Black Ships Before Troy)
The Trojan Horse is a simplified version of the Illiad for independent readers.
I admire all works by Demi and Alexander the Great is no exception. It is a well written and well illustrated book.
Pegasus is a lovely retelling of the Greek myth.
Atlanta's Race by Shirley Climo is another enjoyable tale for listeners of all ages.
"Is this a story or poetry?" my daughter asked when I first began reading D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths. If you buy one book from this list for your library, choose this one.
I saved the best for last! The Hero and the Minotaur is a fabulously illustrated retelling of the legend of Theseus. I probably had more fun reading it than my kids had listening to it!
How about you?
What are your favorite illustrated books about ancient Greek history?
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Week in Review
I highly recommend taking a week off from homeschooling in February. It makes the longest-shortest month of the year much more endurable! Even though we've been seeing signs of spring all around, the days have been all winter and filled with rain or fog.
My husband and I spent a couple of nights in Tahoe for our anniversary and it snowed and snowed and snowed on our way up and through the first night.
Brrr! The next morning, we woke up to snow covered trees and a gorgeous sunrise. We had a snowmobile tour planned for the day of our anniversary and it was gorgeous until we hit the peak of the mountain we were climbing at 9000 ft. By then, it had begun to storm again and all I could think of was the insanely cold weather that was so vividly depicted in many of the Jack London stories I had read in high school. On the ride home my husband heard all about To Build a Fire. Good stories stick with you over the decades!
At home, the kids and I are thrilled about the signs of spring that we are seeing and the increasingly warmer days. Almonds, apricots, and plums are blooming all around us and birds are stopping by our yard to pick up sticks for nest building. On a whim, we made a small resurrection garden and I wrote about it here.
Last week, I wrote about how westudy art history in our homeschool. It's amazing how in just a few minutes a week, we cover so much beautiful art! This week, I wrote about homeschooling on autopilot and I shared how we built a resurrection garden.
My kids have been obsessed with these DK Smithsonian visual encyclopedias that I picked up from Costco last year. They are trying to figure out the body language of our cat from the Picturepedia and they are wondering at the animals in the Animal Book. These books kept my nonreader busy during a 90+ minute wedding mass last week!
I just finished Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. (It's free as an eBook!) I know a lot of readers don't love Fanny Price or the resolution of the story, but I think she is believable and I have to admire how she stuck to her convictions in a situation where the people that she admired the most were encouraging her to compromise.
Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end submit with ever fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.
--CS Lewis Mere Christianity
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I saw a resurrection garden last year, made simply with dirt, grass seeds, a cup, sticks, and a plant saucer and made a mental note to be sure to make one with the kids this year because the just sprouted grass growing around the tomb was such a beautiful metaphor for the new life that Easter represents.
Well, I didn't want to buy a whole bag of grass seed for a little project, so when I saw a more "fairy garden" style of resurrection garden, I knew we had our project.
The total cost for this project was zero dollars because I was able to use old pots and bits and pieces of our existing landscape.
Really, all you need is a cup, a pot, and some dirt. Fill the pot with dirt and press the cup into iton its side. Then mound up the dirt over the top and back of the cup for a hill. After that, you can plant seeds or gather cuttings from your garden to transplant. Groundcovers work especially well.
Each of my children gravitated towards the jobs that suited their ages and personalities. My three year old gathered rocks while my eleven year old carefully scraped up moss and the dirt it grew on. I trimmed bits of succulent and groundcover to plant. My daughter gathered flowers to decorate with.
We we were all super happy with the final result:
As soon as we finished, my daughter immediately asked for an old pot and cup so she could make her own garden. I helped her separate out some of succulent clippings and bits of groundcover, but she did the rest on her own.
Here is her creation:
I like how the old pot gives the impression of an aged garden wall.
I think my daughter may have found a passion for creating tiny worlds. I'll have to introduce her to building fairy gardens next!
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In a perfect homeschooling world, we'd always have a couple of uninterrupted hours at the end of the week to gather materials and plan out the upcoming weeks, no one would get sick, December would only be a little bit chaotic, Mom would always get eight hours of sleep, and family crises would just not happen during the school year.
Unfortunately, life is unpredictable and uncontrollable. Giving our kids a good education means that sometimes we have to flip on the autopilot switch and homeschool the best we can in the middle of our crazy lives. Here are a few thing that I've found help me educate my kids well during the busiest times of the year.
Have a Routine to Fall Back On
Having a routine means that even when I fall short of sleep because I'm up most of the night with a sick kid or because I'm a bad sleeper, I can fall into the pattern of breakfast, get kids ready for the day, read aloud time, math lessons, then supervise the kids' independent work. A routine saves our homeschool day more often than I care to admit.
My kids have their routines that they fall into, too. My oldest son is so in the habit of narrating what he read in his history and literature readers that even if I am in the middle of cleaning up a big spill, he will be telling me about the Panama Canal while getting me another towel. He knows that he can't check history off his list and move on to the next subject until that part of the lesson is done. Believe me, he doesn't like to be doing a lot of work after lunch, so he is motivated to move forward.
My daughter (age 5) is still learning her schedule but she knows that she has to write something, read something, and do a math activity before she is free to do drag out her art supplies to make yet another messy mixed media collage/drawing/painting/masterpiece. So she will ask to do her math before she asks to do art.
Always Be in the Middle of a Few Longer Books
For a while, a few subjects in our homeschool week were solely dependent on shorter books from the library. This meant that if I didn't reserve my books or couldn't go to the library, we didn't have anything to do for history, art, or science.
While I still depend on the library to round out our curriculum and to add richness to our homeschool day, I am careful to have a few longer books that we are reading aloud at all times.Genevieve Foster's books and the D'Aulaires books are great read for reading aloud to a wide range of ages and they are long enough to last several weeks. My kids all time favorite science book was Birds do the Strangest Things. We would read about one bird a day over the course of a few weeks and they still talk about the crazy birds we read about. Often, I will take a book from theLets-Read-And-Find-Out series, divide it into quarters, and read it over the course of a week.
Currently, during our morning read aloud time, we are always working through a book of the Bible, a history book, a poetry book, and a science book. Even on the craziest days, if I just continue to read a chapter or section of each of those and add in math, give the kids free reading time, and ask each child to write in their journal, we've still covered seven subjects in our homeschool. That's what we call a minimum day!
Map Out Subjects So It's Easy to "Do the Next Thing"
While with some curriculum may be easy to open the book and do the next section, some subjects are a little more difficult to do without a little planning. A math book may need change for a lesson on money or a compass for a geometry lesson. A history lesson may require a trip to the library for a research project. Science labs always require materials. A writing curriculum may have some lessons that take less than 20 minutes while others take close to an hour.
There are many ways to plan ahead, without investing a lot of time. Spending a little time periodically to look ahead to make note of which shorter lessons could be combined and which longer lessons will require extra days is a great practice. Jotting down a list of materials that will be needed for each unit on post it notes at the beginning of the year and sticking them in the book is super helpful.
Technology as a Substitute Teacher
When I was a substitute teacher, I usually had to take students to the computer lab or pop in a movie. When I was a teacher, I usually kept a few VHS tapes in my top right hand drawer for emergencies. As a homeschool teacher, why should I feel guilty about occasionally relying on technology to fill in the gaps in my kids education?
There are enough great documentaries, movie adaptations of literature, websites, and apps out there that in a pinch I can call in a technological substitute teacher to help me through a pinch. ABCya, Duolingo, Xtra Math, Starfall, and Typing.com are a few websites I can count on to fill in the gaps on rough days. As a matter of fact, most of those websites show up on our homeschool on a rotating basis anyway! We just spend more time on them when Mom or the baby is sick. As for apps, we have Stack the States (geography), Zeus vs the Monsters (mythology and math), Moose Math, and Starfall (reading and phonics). I try to record documentaries on Animal Planet for rainy days. I can also pull up an episode of Salsa Spanish for the little ones.
How About You?
Studying art history is fairly simple to accomplish during the homeschool day, provided I have done a little prior research and gathering of materials. All of the art that we study comes from the time period in history that we are already studying as a family. Currently, we are studying Ancient Greece, so once a week we study a sculpture, piece of architecture or pottery, mosaic, or building from that time.
Finding Pictures to Use
Before we begin a unit (or a week after, since I'm usually running behind), I start searching for images pertaining to the art of the period of history that we are studying and that I can legally make a print of. Just because something is online and it is easy to download, doesn't mean that it is legal to do so. Always check the copyright first. If a picture is "public domain" or "creative commons", you can download it and make a photo print of it for your own personal use. Creative commons photos have their own requirements that can vary image by image, so be sure to check. Usually, you just need to attribute the creator of the image. (More info on Public Domain and Creative Commons here).
Once I find usable images that I can make prints of, I save them to my computer and then download them to my Costco photo account and order three of each picture, one for each of my children.
How We Do Picture Study
When we do a picture study, we study a single picture at a time. My son (12) and daughter (5) each get a picture to study at the table and my youngest (3) and I head to the couch to quietly talk about our picture together.
Once we we have our pictures, I set the timer and we study our pictures. I ask my youngest about the colors and shapes of the picture. I also ask him what is happening in the picture.
When the the timer runs out we flip the pictures over and then take turns, from youngest to oldest, to retell everything we remember about the picture without peeking. My daughter knows that she has to observe more than her little brother and my oldest has to observe even more. I try to remember something above and beyond what my son retells.
After narrating our observations, I give the title of the artwork, the artist, and the medium used. If there is any vocabulary to learn, we talk about that, too. Since we are already studying the historical time period, I don't usually have to give a lot of "historical background." Occasionally, we discuss what we liked about the picture and why we think the artist made certain choices.
Finally, the kids glue their picture onto a piece of paper and label it with the title of the artwork and artist. The paper goes into their history binder.
Other Ways We Study Art
Occasionally, I will pull out our art supplies and sketchbooks and pass around picture of the week. I let the kids choose the medium of their choice and paint or draw their own version of the art that we are studying. Here is an example of this exercise after the Rio Olympics where we drew the Christ our Redeemer Statue:
The kids each chose to use oil pastels (they usually do) and I used acrylic paint...and then quickly filled in the background with pastels. I helped my youngest by drawing an outline of the statue before they began.
I like this exercise because it combines art history with the actual practice of art. It gets my drawing something they usually wouldn't choose to draw and encourages them to make creative, artistic choices.
Just recently we have been reading The Great Art Treasure Hunt, which is kind of an I spy book with great works of art. My two youngest and I have been going through this book sporadically a couple paintings a day. Even though they think reading it is a big game, they are also being introduced to art concepts at the same time.
How do you study art in your homeschool?
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