Friends have sometimes said to me, I'd love to do picture study and classical music and poetry with my children, but I just never find the time. If you find yourself in this position and would like to share these things with your children but just don't know where to begin or don't have the time to prepare, or maybe you'd just like a little culture in your life but don't have time to pursue it on your own this blog is a gift for you. I enjoy sharing classical music, art and poetry with my children and wanted to invite others to share the wonder and beauty of what we are discovering together. I hope to post regularly - hopefully weekly so you can use these in your home school if you would like. We will look at one artist's work for a few weeks in a row and one composer's work and a poet in that way, also. I hope to give a little introduction and perhaps a few links the week we switch to a new composer, artist or poet. Since all three are new this time, I may stagger the introductions through the next few weeks.
Picture Study: Charlotte Mason recommends that we expose our children to great art and let them make their own connections. Look carefully at the pictures - teach your children to focus and pay careful attention. Then put the picture out of sight and ask them to narrate (tell back) what they remember. Then look at the picture again. If you enjoy these studies but want to pursue them further there are ideas below.
The pictures I plan to use are in the public domain as they are over 100 years old, so they are free to be used by all - no copyrights to worry about. You can copy and print them as you will. It's helpful to have them on display for your family to become familiar with. You can print them in photograph size for each of your students or get an 8 X 10 or larger printed to display. You could keep these in a notebook in plastic sleeves comparing one artist's works over the weeks and collecting artists you are familiar with over time. Our local Office Max prints 8 1/2 x 11 color cardstock print for just over a $1. You can copy and paste the picture into a document and take it in on a disc or flash drive and get it printed. Alternately you may want to buy a book of the artists work or borrow one from your library with the artist's work. I will be choosing works that are acceptable for family viewing but many artists have nude pictures etc. so you may want to be careful when purchasing or borrowing books. You can check online first and see a sampling of an artist's work. Artcyclopedia would be a good site to check for samples of many artists works.
If your family is new to classical music it may take time to begin to really enjoy it. Our brains have trails or pathways that information travels and areas that are more visited than others. We enjoy what we are familiar with. New foods, new styles, new music all becomes more enjoyable as we become accustomed to it. I read once that a missionary to a tribe in the jungle introduced them to Jello. Everyone likes Jello, right? These people did not!! They said, "It's alive in our mouth!" and spit it out. What we are accustomed to from our childhood is what we go back to and enjoy. It may take time for your family to begin to actually enjoy classical music. You will want to find ways to make it familiar - playing each piece more than once if possible throughout the week. Your children may want to color or work on other hand work while they listen or you could play the piece during lunch each day. Listening to Mozart has been proven to improve your mathematical reasoning skills as well as your ability to learn a new language. It makes connections across your brain - those trails again. Baroque music (a style of classical music which includes Bach, Beethoven and Mozart) has been shown to slow your heart rate to a relaxed and healthy 60 beats per minute. It takes more work to listen when the music is new, like making a new trail through the woods, but when it becomes familiar you will enjoy it on a subconscious level and reap benefits of health and increased brain ability as well as enjoyment.
Our family has very much enjoyed learning about many composers through the Music Masters series. Each CD covers the life of one composer interspersing samples of his music with a narration of his life story. I purchased mine through Rainbow Resource Center for $3.50. You can probably get them other places too. If you haven't already started you can build up a collection of classical CDs slowly. Rainbow Resource Center also has some inexpensive - Best of... CDs. I watch second hand stores, too. Of course your local library will have classical music on CD. You can also find many pieces performed on You-tube. It's nice to listen to a whole CD of one composer's work for a time so that you become familiar with his style.
Check out the playlist at the bottom of the blog. I will be adding pieces to it regularly as we have new composers. You can use this to continue listening to the music in your home.
I enjoy collecting books of poetry. I've received them as gifts, and found them at yard sales, second hand stores, and used book sales. I've even purchased one or two new. A book of children's poetry can often be found in our stack of library books. Our youngest, now five, actually enjoys sitting and listening through a book of poetry for young children. You may have to pick and choose which you read as values come through both the poetry and the pictures. I am usually drawn to the older books with their simpler more realistic art work and classic poetry. Rod and Staff has a nice book of poetry by grade level for memorizing, Poems for Memorization. You can also find poetry online.
Don't let any of this become overwhelming - it shouldn't be a duty, but a joy to share beauty with your children do as much or as little as you can do well and cheerfully. The above ideas are just in case you want to pursue these further or want to begin searching on your own. Making it easy is the point of this blog.
The human heart is drawn to beauty and I believe it is a reflection of the Creator. All things good and lovely originate with Him and ultimately point to Him. I hope that you and your children will find joy and inspiration in the works recommended on this blog.