How I Incorporate the “Extras” Part I: Artist Study

Part of what drew me to the CM technique, besides all the living books I get to use, was the teaching of what I’ll dub “the extras.” The extras are subjects that were commonly taught back in Ms. Mason’s day, but not so common in education today. These include our artist/picture study, poet/poetry study, Shakespeare, hymn study and composer study. Now, these are not necessarily topics that are of utmost importance to my husband or myself, but they are ones I wanted my kids to have some exposure to, and the CM style fits right in with this.

One of my readers asked if I could share how I incorporate these into our school days, so I’ll do a short series of posts describing what we do for each subject.

Basically, I schedule one subject per day of the week, with the exception of Tuesdays, when we do both poetry & Shakespeare.

Artist/picture study is scheduled for Mondays. I like doing it at the beginning of the week so that once we’ve discussed the artist and picture, the kids have all week to enjoy the current painting.

I chose the artists based on the Simply Charlotte Mason curriculum guide, module 1. We actually studied Audubon and Cassatt last year, so I’m using a couple of my own choices to make my six artists for the year. I will use one artist for each six week term I have scheduled.

If I’m well prepared, I’ll check a short book out from the library on the artist and we’ll read this the first Monday to familiarize ourselves with him/her. If not, then I’ll just read a short bio off the internet. I choose six pictures ahead of time that we’ll study and print them out. I try to pick ones that have enough detail or that will be appealing enough to the kids to generate good discussions. I don’t have a certain website I used. I just googled the artist’s name and browsed the pictures.

On Monday, I will set out the picture, we’ll read about the artist, I’ll give the kids the name of the picture and then have each one look at it for a short while and then narrate to me all that they remember from it. That’s it. Very simple! I then post the picture on the wall and by the end of the six weeks we have six pictures to compare. We’ll have a discussion usually about what is similar in the pictures, what the kids think they mean, which one did they like best, etc.

A couple other things I have done are:

  • Print a coloring page and have them color it similar to the artist’s style. Again, I usually just google the artist name & coloring page and print off what I can find. I don’t have a specific website I use.
  • Create a small lapbook page that we adhere to a folder to keep track of the artists we’ve studied. I think I received this free from www.homeschoolinthewoods.com, but I’m not entirely sure!
  • Add them to our Book of Centuries.

We are currently on Monet, and I happened to find a large book of his work that included a biography for $2 at a thrift store. So I’m also leaving the book out in case the kiddos want to browse through it.

I hope this helps!

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  1. Oh, I am so excited! I never thought to look for artist coloring sheets! We're studying Vermeer and I just happened to find quite a few that we will use in our lessons! Thank you for an EXCELLENT idea!

  2. Thanks for sharing what you do, I look forward to hearing more about your schedule. The way that you do artist study is wonderful and very doable even for me! I think I'll give it a try; I'll let you know how it goes.


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