Friday, September 6, 2013

Art and Music Fridays

I'm trying something new this year - Art and Music Fridays. I've seen different variations on this theme from other homeschoolers, so this certainly isn't an idea I take credit for. I looked at how our days and weeks flow and instead of trying to cram things like art projects, artist study, music appreciation and so forth, into our mornings as an "I hope we get to this regularly" subject, I thought we'd try putting aside our regular work on Fridays and focusing on something else.

Art and Music Fridays doesn't quite encapsulate all of what I have on the agenda for Fridays, but "Art and Music and Freewriting and Games" is a bit of a mouthful. Fridays will be a day for things like art projects, as well as learning about music and great artists. We'll also do some things like freewriting, and playing some language and math games.

I'm hopeful that having a day that is set aside for something different, and admittedly more fun (despite my pie in the sky hopes that ALL our learning is super fun, darnit), will be a refreshing end to the week and help keep us from experiencing too much burnout as the year progresses. Sometimes you just have to put away the regular stuff and do something else!

I also love what Charlotte Mason, a 19th century British educator whose writings are popular in the homeschooling world, had to say about providing children with a "feast of ideas." We can draw from everything from great books to beautiful art to lovely music, and it gives the child a feast for their mind and heart. So often, providing the feast takes a backseat to making sure our kids know their math facts and grammar - even at home where we aren't faced with the teaching-to-the-test dilemma so prevalent in public schools.

So bring on the feast!

Here are some of the resources I'm using to help make this happen. I like a bit of handholding, because it makes it more likely I'll follow through with these ideas, but much of this would be easy to organize and put together on your own, for free.

Artist Study
Picture Study Portfolios from Simply Charlotte Mason. These come with prints to look at, as well as a biography of the artist. We're beginning our year with Monet. This is one of those things that isn't hard to pull together on your own, but I decided having it all done for me was worth it. I'm also including a few children's books from the library, such as The Magical Garden of Claude Monet and Monet Paints a Day. We'll spend the next couple of months learning about Monet and looking at his art, then move on to another artist.

I'm using the SQUILT curriculum from Homegrown Learners. We'll be focusing on the Baroque period (and I'm hopeful she'll come out with more soon!). SQUILT is Super Quiet UnInterrupted Listening Time. Again, this kind of music appreciation isn't hard to put together on your own, but I am in love with having it all laid out for me, including YouTube links and notebooking sheets for the kids to fill out. We'll be learning about different Baroque composers, as well as things like dynamics, tempo, rhythm, instrumentation and mood.

Art projects
I have a handful of books, and a mess of stuff on my Pinterest boards to draw from. I also recently discovered Art for Kids, which is a FABULOUS site with lots of great (and many simple and not super messy) projects. Deep Space Sparkle is another great website for art lessons. The book Discovering Great Artists has art projects that introduce the style of great artists, so we'll definitely be doing some of those that tie into our artist studies as well.

We do some freewriting a la Bravewriter (have I mentioned I'm a Bravewriter fan?). David is really the only one participating in this writing exercise, and in the spirit of setting a good example, I write with him. We pick a topic, set a timer for five minutes, and write without stopping until time is up. There are no rules, except you keep writing the whole time, and no correcting of errors. We just write. If he wants to (which he always does) we share what we wrote. As the year progresses, we'll use the freewriting exercise to help with writing projects as well.

Math games
We use Right Start Math, so there are TONS of games built right into the curriculum. The hard part is making time for them. The games are fun, and wonderful for practicing math facts and working with numbers. Even if you don't use Right Start, you can get their book of math games. I highly recommend them!

Word games
Bravewriter has suggestions for word games using magnetic poetry. We also have Scrabble, and I'd like to add Bananagrams to our repertoire. I recently found Star Wars mad libs and about died. Mad libs are fun and a good way to reinforce parts of speech, but Star Wars mad libs? Are you kidding me? If you have a Star Wars fan, get thee to a store and buy some, stat.

So that's our plan. There will be some Fridays where we have other activities, and as always, our routine is ever evolving. But the kids were pretty excited to have something different to do today, so if the very first week of school is any indication, this should be a hit.


  1. These look like such fun ideas! Thanks for pointing some great curriculum ideas! I teach a monthly art and music class for our co-op so I am always looking for new ways to get the kids up and having fun learning!

  2. Claire, thank you so much for your kind words about SQUILT! I'm so very happy you are using it and loving it. Yay -- and thanks for the comment on my blog today about Volume 2. :-)