Picture Study for Older Children

As high school students, picture study as a means of art appreciation can be very enjoyable. The boys are old enough to take the assignment on their own and view as many paintings as they wish for our featured artist. They usually start out on their own but soon they are calling me over to have me look at something they found that was interesting. I love those moments and try to make myself available to share their excitement…or disgust depending on the subject of the artwork.

This week I gave them a choice of artist’s to view. They could choose from Giotto, Donatello, or Brunelleschi. I asked them to pick one of the artists, view their works online, pick one image to print out for their notebooks, and then to copy the work or a portion of the work.

One son chose Giotto and we enjoyed scanning through various paintings and learning about Giotto’s style. After the time viewing the artwork online, my son chose a piece to view more carefully. He printed it out on our color printer and then sketched out a part of the painting for his notebook. They usually print out a 4 inch by 6 inch size so they are not using much ink at all. My son commented when he started this sketch that he was not very good at sketching people. I think he did a great job on this sketch and told him so when he finished. I think he was satisfied with his results, not excited but satisfied.

Free Homeschool & Notebooking Resources
If sketching is a little intimidating to your child, another idea that I have tried this year is to use notebooking pages from Notebookingpages.com’s free resource section on art. Here is a completed notebooking page from our study of the Limbourg Brothers. We really enjoyed looking at this painting and zooming in and looking at details on the computer screen. There is a lot going on in this painting and my son had a lot of questions about it when we finished. Does anyone know why they put the zodiac signs on the top of the painting? I haven’t had time to research the answer to that question.

I try to keep our art appreciation very open ended. I allow the boys to take an artist and give input about how they will document their thoughts and ideas. High school age students can be a challenge as far as trying to connect with them and to get them excited about school subjects. Art appreciation is something that we can offer that has no right or wrong answers. It is just enjoyable. I wish I could say the same thing about geometry. 🙂

More about the Limbourg Brothers
More about Giotto
My plans for high school art appreciation

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Tapestry of Grace-Year 2 Unit 1 Artwork Projects

Back in my post about how our family included some extra projects for art and music, I promised to share a few results. Although the plans from Tapestry of Grace include some art projects, many time we have already done something similar and we are interested trying something new. I do a quick look through the topics for each week and come up with a few ideas to build on.

We always start with the Story of Painting pages that are assigned most every week and then we will use the internet to find additional examples to use for picture study. After that, I try to offer some sort of activity that will be refreshing at the end of a busy academic day, two times a week.

Here are some photos of the unit one art projects that we have completed.

In week one we viewed lots of illuminated manuscripts and then the boys tried their hand at a fancy letter. This is one of the finished products.

In weeks two and three we worked on mosaics after studying Byzantine artwork. It was the first time that we had tried using actual mosaic tiles and grout to make a piece of artwork. We learned a lot of things in the process. We used too much grout and we didn’t wipe it off soon enough so our finished project is not as colorful as we had wished for.

I decided to frame them and hang them in the bathroom and then when we get some free time we will complete another project and see if we can get the grout right. The one on the left is an octopus and the one on the right is a fish with bubbles. 🙂

In week five I gave the boys a pretty open-ended project idea. They were to use Sculpey and make something Viking related. This is one project that my son made…a sword. He also wrote a report on the use of the sword to go along with the artwork for our unit celebration. The other son made a model of a Viking masthead that looked like a dragon.

In week eight we used a kit to work with Chinese brush painting. (ISBN 1560108452) The first day we experimented with the brushes, paints, and the ink. The brushes were so different and were fun to try different techniques with and we filled a few sheets with color and line.

The second day we followed the instructions in the book to make an actual painting.

Here is a frog done with Chinese brush painting….very nicely done.

Week 9 found us designing and then drawing a stained glass image on a window. Once the boys got started, they really enjoyed the process of coloring in the window. They had a hard time getting the curves right and both came up with creative ways to do it.

Unit one moved pretty fast but I know that the art projects helped pull all the ideas together. They also had a lot of fun working each week and we are looking forward to the next unit where we will be starting the Renaissance time period.

I will post our plans for unit two when I get them all pulled together…..soon I hope. 🙂

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

A System of Narration

Our narration system in our family has been in place for a number of years now….I used narration more with my last two children than I did with the older two. What a world of difference in the quality of our homeschooling. As the boys have learned to express themselves both orally and with writing, I have seen the value of steering clear of fill in the blank type work. When they are excited to tell what they know because they have listened or read carefully, it is more meaningful to all of us. I *know* they understand the material and will more than likely remember what they narrate.

Our general progression of oral and written narration in our homeschool:
1st and 2nd grades: We worked on oral narration of literature, history, and science readings. This was done everyday as we went through the day’s reading together and if they needed it, I would give them some prompts to get them started. We did very little written narration and at most a sentence or two that was more like copywork than narration.

3rd and 4th grades: We worked on short written narration, usually a paragraph, two times a week and still completed lots of oral narration every day. If they had trouble with the written narrations, I would have them give an oral narration and then I would write their words on the whiteboard for them to copy down on paper. This seemed to be a great way to transition to longer written pieces. Somewhere I read that writing is just “talk on paper” and that made an impression with me as we started moving from an oral to written narration.

5th and 6th grades: We began expecting more written narration in the form of longer writing responses to a topic from history, science, or literature done once a week. The boys completed short written narrations everyday on a variety of subjects, usually something they were interested in and could give thorough coverage of the material. We continued with more informal oral narration just about every day around the lunch table or the dinner table about what they read during their school day.

7th and 8th grades: At this level, I start to give the boys more leeway about what form their narration will take. It seems like just about every subject lends itself to a certain kind of narration and we go with that. History seemed to be an appropriate place for written short summaries each day. The boys did oral narration for everyday science readings. They completed longer written narrations each week for science about a topic of interest. They also started keeping narrations on artists and composers. Nature journal narrations were made each week.

In addition to writing words as a form of narration, the boys included hand-drawn maps, illustrations, clipart, and other creative touches to their pages. I have one son who has trouble with the physical aspects of writing. He will use a pencil and paper if he is asked but if given a choice, he will choose to type up his narrations. I allow him to now type all his written narrations and the quality of content has gone up ten-fold. We are both happy.

Here are some examples of their narrations from last year when they were 11 and 13 years old. Some of the scans are goofy but you will get the idea….I need to get the boys to write with a darker lead. 🙂

History with written summary and hand-drawn maps. (I think the books were The Story of Liberty and The Age of Revolution.)

Here is a notebooking page that was used for history narration, a collage report format narration, and a written narration for composer study. I consider notebooking pages a great way to record a narration….some may disagree but it works in our family.

Now for a couple of science samples. Once a week, I ask the boys to pick a topic from their reading and write down what they found interesting to learn about. They usually have a topic in mind and since they have done careful reading all week, they have no trouble coming up with more than enough to write about. As I write this blog entry, my son is in the process of writing his weekly history narration on his topic of choice, Genghis Kahn. Yesterday there was a narration written about Joan of Arc and one on marine invertebrates. It has just become our way of finalizing our weekly studies.

I hope this entry helps another family in their endeavors to do narration. It is a simple concept that builds naturally into homeschooling and everyday life. My older two wish I would have stumbled onto these concepts when they were in the early days of homeschooling when we had fill in the blanks worksheets and multiple choice questions and quizzes and tests. I always tell them that I changed when I saw it wasn’t working for them and I made changes as I learned more about narration. Homeschooling is a life process and I usually learn more than they do. 🙂

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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