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Charlotte Mason and Art Appreciation – Simple Beginning Steps



“Art appreciation is regarded with a lot of respect, but teachers tend to be intimidated about how to teach it.”
Charlotte Mason, volume six, page 213

As homeschoolers we’re in the unique position to change our own thinking and look at our children as people with varying needs and interests. Balancing the more academic subjects with an introduction to things beautiful to the mind and spirit brings a sense of joy to our homeschool.

“Art is a thing of the spirit, and we need to teach it in ways that affect the spirit. We realize that the ability to appreciate art and interpret it is as universal to all people as intelligence, or imagination, or the ability to form words to communicate. But that ability needs to be educated. Teaching the technical skill of producing pictures isn’t the same as appreciating art. To appreciate, children need to have a reverent recognition of what’s been created. Children need to learn about pictures: they need to learn about them a line at a time, and as groups, by studying pictures for themselves rather than by reading about them.”
Charlotte Mason, volume six, page 214


“The six reproductions are studied one at a time so that the students learn to not just see a picture, but to look carefully at it, absorbing every detail. After looking at the picture, it’s turned over and the children narrate, telling what they saw, perhaps, ‘a dog driving a flock of sheep along a road all by himself. No, wait, there’s a boy, too. He’s lying at the river, getting a drink. You can tell by the light that it’s morning, so the sheep must be going out to graze in the pasture,’ and so on. The children don’t miss any details–the discarded plow, the crooked birch tree, the beautifully formed clouds that look like it might rain. There’s enough to talk about to keep the children busy for half an hour, and afterwards, the picture will have formed such a memory that the children will recognize it wherever they see it, whether it’s a signed proof, an oil reproduction, or the original itself in a museum.”
Charlotte Mason, volume six page 214

If you’re viewing the painting on your computer screen, you can have your child move away from the monitor and complete the narration of what he sees in the painting from memory. Over time, this simple exercise helps your child to see the unique style and techniques of each artist you study. A Monet will look like a Monet. A Raphael will look like a Raphael. All ages of children are capable of this sort of activity and all will learn to narrate paintings quite naturally if you offer the opportunity each week for art appreciation.

monet-and-mendelssohn-mini-unit-buttonIf you want some help getting started with picture study, please check out my free plans for six week’s worth of art and music appreciation featuring Claude Monet and Felix Mendelssohn.

Summer 2009 Art and Music Appreciation Plans

Everything you need to get started with a study of Claude Monet is included in the plans, even the paintings and links to viewing them online.


I’ve written several other mini units covering other artists and composers. You can click over and read more about them on this page:

Harmony Fine Arts Mini Units


Van Gogh and Handel ButtonVermeer Haydn Cover Button 2Degas and Prokofiev button

Harmony Fine Arts for Preschoolers

Preschool Art and Music Appreciation



Creating a love for beautiful art and music can start from birth. It doesn’t take much effort to surround your family with the great artists and classical composers from the very start of a child’s life. Weave the experiences into your everyday routine by using Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1 plans as a framework.


Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1 Art and Music Plans

Sample for grade 1– Download a four week sample for Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1


The Harmony Fine Arts plans were written to fit a range of ages. Grade 1 was originally written to share the fine arts with children in the grammar stage of learning. But it’s very flexible and can be used with younger children as well, as young as 3 ½ if they’re interested or you feel they would benefit from an early introduction into great artists and classical composers.

How to Adapt Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1 Plans for Younger Children

Suggested Resources -note these may be affiliate links to products I own and love.

With these three resources and the internet, you can get started with the plan.


Option 1 – Picture Study

Use the links in Option 1 to view the suggested painting together online. There are instructions in the plans to explain how to save, print, and make the painting your computer’s wallpaper background. You can have the child tell you what they see in the artwork or you can gently guide a discussion of the painting. I’ve created a printable sheet with a few suggestions for talking about a painting with your child. Pick the questions that are most appropriate for the painting and your child. Don’t push for answers but let your child tell you what they see and how they feel about the painting. Keep it simple since their attention span will be very short.

Harmony Fine Arts - Printable art cards

I’ve written in more detail about picture study on my blog and you may wish to click over and get a little more direction if you’re new to picture study. Read the entry here: Help With Picture Study.

You can download your own copy here: Art Question Cards.

Option 2 – Art Appreciation with Follow-Up Activities


Using the suggested pages in either the Oxford First Book of Art or The Usborne Art Treasury, share the assignment in a way that makes sense for your particular child. This may include reading the text, sharing the images, and/or completing the activity suggested. Usually the activities are very open-ended and can be adapted for younger and older children. Harmony Fine Arts has always tried to give families the flexibility to offer a variety of ways to present great art. Option 2 will help you enjoy looking at art together with your children and then perhaps create an art piece of your own using simple materials you probably have on hand.

Option 3 – Additional Art Appreciation and Follow-Up Coloring Pages

Using the Child-Size Masterpieces,  in just a few minutes a week, your child will enjoy being able to touch and use the cards to view a beautiful painting, learn the painting’s name, and a little bit about the artist. These cards are appropriate for children of all ages.


Even if your child is very young, they will probably enjoy looking through the cards with you. I would suggest putting the featured card out for display throughout the week. Repeated exposure is the key to art appreciation at this age so just viewing the painting once online isn’t usually enough to make a lasting impression.

grade 1 sample week -option 2 coloring pageWhen it comes to using the coloring pages in the Harmony Fine Arts plans, you’ll need to decide if they are appropriate for your child. My daughter would have loved having them available during her preschool years but I don’t think my boys would have benefited from them at all. In most cases, the coloring books can wait until they are a bit older.

Music Appreciation

The Harmony Fine Arts plan for listening to composers for Grade 1 can be used without adaptation. The book suggested in the plans can wait until your child is older. View the sample plan for composer study and note that there are links to YouTube for every single selection.

You can see the complete Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1 playlist here: Grade One Playlist.

Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1 Collage Button

In summary, if you chose to use the Harmony Fine Arts plans with your preschool aged child, you’ll be offering them a chance to look at some of the most famous artists in the art world. They’ll spend a few minutes a week with you talking about and learning about great art. In addition, they will at the very least, have been exposed to a handful of famous composers in an enjoyable, non-stressful way.

I encourage you to download the sample given above to the Harmony Fine Arts plans for grade 1. Imagine how you can use them in your family and how easy it would be to add simple art and music appreciation to your daily routine.



Harmony Fine Arts Grades 1-4 Artists and Composers List

Download a list of composers and artists included in grades 1-4 of Harmony Fine Arts.

Note: The Harmony Fine Arts plans were written to complement a variety of homeschooling styles: Charlotte Mason, Well-Trained Mind, Classical, Eclectic, Unschooling, Unit Studies, etc.






Leonardo da Vinci – Artist Study


I’ve been thinking a lot about my favorite artist studies and combing through my archives. I decided to update a few of my more popular entries. I hope you find some fun ideas for studying Leonardo da Vinci using the resources and links provided.

Getting Started with a Picture Book-Katie and the Mona Lisa

Please note this entry has affiliate links to books I own and highly recommend.

Here are some things we’ve done along with this book in the past to enhance the reading. You’ll find illustrations in the book to get you started.

  • Draw a princess or a knight.
  • Paint a portrait of your friend with their best Mona Lisa smile.
  • Use oil pastels on black construction paper to show a beautiful spring scene.
  • Draw a fire breathing dragon and paint it with watercolors.

Create More Interest with a Fun Art Activity

We have this Dover Publications stained glass coloring book and have really enjoyed the look of the projects when we get done. I highly recommend it for artists of all ages. 🙂

Here’s a free coloring page of the Mona Lisa from Enchanted Learning:
Coloring Page on Enchanted Learning: Mona Lisa


Have a Little Picture Study Time

Last supper

If you want to take a virtual museum tour, try this online gallery:
Web Gallery of Art


Older Students Can Read an Excellent Biography

If you have an older student that wishes to know more about Leonardo, I highly recommend the Landmark Book Leonardo Da Vinci by Emily Hahn. All my boys have read this biographical book about Leonardo and enjoyed it.

Tie In Some Music Appreciation

If you are interested in listening to music that was popular during Leonardo’s time, you can try this CD. This CD says that it contains music from the most popular composers of Leonardo’s day. I listened to the whole CD online at and it was interesting to think about Leonardo being surrounded by these sounds or something similar. I love to immerse myself in a time period and this is a great way to complement your study of Leonardo da Vinci.

Visit a Leonardo Painting In Real Life!

Wouldn’t you love to see a Leonardo da Vinci close-up and personal?
Where to see a real Leonardo:

How about a close-up look at the Mona Lisa from the Louvre Museum?
Mona Lisa Close-Up

Harmony Fine Arts Grade 2

Harmony Fine Arts Cover grade 6


Harmony Fine Arts – Leonardo Artist Studies

You can find Leonardo da Vinci featured in both Grade 2 and Grade 6 of Harmony Fine Arts.

If you want to go more in-depth and have even more outstanding suggestions for learning about this important person in art, I invite you to give either Harmony Fine Arts grade 2 or 6 a try.

Harmony Fine Arts Purchase Now button



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