Homeschool Art History Made Easy

I am a member of a LOT of homeschool Facebook groups where moms chat about things like planning and scheduling, curriculum choices, literary recommendations, favorite podcasts, what's the perfect baking soda to vinegar ratio for an epic homemade volcano, and other fun activities that homeschoolers like to do.

At least once a month I see a mom asking the group how to introduce art history to her kids. She usually has a story to share about her disastrous first attempt at taking her kids to the local museum, and how it all ended in disappointment and frustration. She'll ask for advice on who to study, and how to study it... because, although she values an art education for her kids, and can clearly see its many benefits, she feels unsure of where to start, or exactly what to do.

I want to help that mom!

And all the other moms who are just like her. And, today I have some fun ideas that are easy to implement, and will take your homeschool art projects beyond "paint by numbers" style activities where your 4 kids all do the same project, and end up with 4 identical pieces of art. (That's not art! That's an exercise in following instructions.) We'll get you inspired, your kids will be interested in art history, and it will all be so easy you'll wonder why you didn't think to try these ideas before!

Let's get started.

1. Read some story books about different artists.

If you'd like to get extra fancy, you can find out which artists were working during the period of time you're currently studying in history, or link an artist study with a classic piece of literature you're reading. But, you can also keep it simple and just start reading anything! There's a wealth of amazing storybooks just waiting for you at your library or local bookstore. Here are a few of my (and my kids') favorites.

2. Go to the museum.

Seeing art in person is amazing. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a painting in person for the first time that I knew only from books, and I was amazed to discover a whole secret world of nuances, vibrant colors that just didn't translate in an art history textbook, and magnificent brushstrokes that you can only understand if you are seeing them in real life. 

Sometimes art just has to be seen in person.

A trip to the art museum can be a scary thought when you're bringing along noisy, wiggly, curious people who want to touch everything... but it's so worthwhile. The trick is to make it engaging for your kids. When they are little, they usually don't want to just walk around quietly and look at the art for long periods of time. Keep the visits short. If possible, choose one or two pieces that you know you want to see, and show them pictures before you go. When they see the art in person, and they recognize it, they'll be excited! 

3. Invite them to create art.

Get those art supplies out of the cabinet and into an accessible area. If you feel like organizing everything in one place, make an art cart! Add fun new art supplies often and encourage experimentation. Show them that you value their unique creativity by giving them open-ended project ideas, or just let them explore on their own. Kids learn best when their bodies are involved. I've collected a lot of fun ideas on Pinterest for tactile and kinesthetic learners. Remind them that the process is more important than the product, and that the act of making art is the focus... not the end result. Acknowledge their effort above the outcome of their art.

And, most of all, enjoy spending creative time together, and have fun!

Ready to chat more? Come join us in our friendly and supportive facebook group.