Monday, April 23, 2012

{TOS Crew Blog Cruise} Adding Fine Arts


Every other week a question is posted to TOS Crew members and answers are then compiled into a blog cruise. This week the question is this....

How do you incorporate the extras, like art and music, into your day?

I have done this in a number of different ways over the years. We've been homeschooling now for ten years. I don't always get the fine arts added daily but we do cover them yearly.

Here is how I've managed this over the last few years with the most success....


My boys (and I!) all started piano lessons last year. This requires practice each day and we do manage this more often than not. Last year we also continued these throughout the summer with only a few breaks here and there. This has allowed me to learn alongside my sons. I played the piano when I was a child, but stopped all music when I graduated from high school. This has allowed me to pick up a much neglected skill and work on it once again (which I am loving). It's also allowing me to be an example to my boys. While my oldest, age 15, isn't all that thrilled and will be stopping his lessons this June, my younger two boys are really enjoying learning the skill. In fact, my youngest has expressed the desire to also learn the violin. Our teacher teaches both.

This photo was taken after an art class where the boys made clothes out of recycled materials. 
My youngest did his whole lesson in this outfit.

I also have music playing all the time and find myself singing along in the car often. I'm sure my boys find it a bit annoying, but they don't seem to mind it enough to say anything. We typically listen to Christian contemporary, but also some classical.

Speaking of classical, we have done a composer study and we love listening to the Classical Kids CDs. I find them a great way to learn a bit about various composers while also learning about their music.


I am not an artist. At least not in a traditional sense. However, over the last two years, my boys have been able to take monthly art classes at a local to us art studio. The teacher is great in that she shows the kids the project and then steps back to allow them to create. They've done a lot of pottery, but also watercolors, made paper, sculptures (wire & plaster), and even did some leather working. Sadly the classes have stopped for now, but I'm hoping we'll get enough interest (and the gas prices will come down!) so we can start them back up.


Last year my sister & I had a small mini-co-op with just the two of us. It was an art based study which worked very well to help meet this need as well. It helped that we did it together so the accountability to cover art & music was there. It also helped that we shared the teaching.

We used a bunch of various sources and spent the morning covering music appreciation and composers. The afternoon was then spent on art history and application.

For music our spine was A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers. This is a fantastic book and one we've really enjoyed using. There is a short story about the composer followed by comprehension questions. The back of the book is also full of extras to help flesh out the study including a listening guide, coloring pages, and so much more. This has been one of my favorite review products I received. (You can read my full review by clicking HERE.)

For art history and instruction we used some great videos from Barry Stebbing (How Great Thou Art). One is called God & The History of Art. What I loved is that Barry Stebbing shares this all from a Christian worldview and is careful about what art is shown (i.e. no nudity). This is huge for me as I want my boys to learn to appreciate art from a Biblical standpoint and I also don't want to worry about what they are viewing.

The second set of DVDs is called The Fundamentals of Beginning Drawing. We actually had the privilege of doing a two-day live art class with Barry Stebbing about five years ago. Only my oldest son was really old enough to participate. Mr. Stebbing moves just as fast through his instruction on the videos. It's very good but I used the pause button to its fullest extent in order not to frustrate the boys. They also did very well with the video. In fact, oftentimes my sister (or I) would sit and draw alongside them. We did break the lessons into smaller segments and never did finish the whole series, but it was a great way to give them some professional art instruction in the comfort of our home.

I have more links and photos to the co-op over at my school blog, Freedom Academy. A search of the term "Fine Arts" on that blog should bring up most of the posts and show how the days looked including links to any extras we used such as notebooking pages and YouTube videos.


I never realized it until recently, but we tend to go to 2-4 plays a year. We are blessed to live near an opera house that puts on educational shows four times a year. There is also another theater nearer to us that does one or two educational shows a year.

Over the years we've seen a deaf troupe of actors perform Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. We've seen a number of high school theater groups perform plays based on books - such as Lily's Pink Purse (and I simply didn't tell my boys the name of the play before we went - they loved it!) and one called Tattercoats.
Last year we were able to see a hilarious rendition of The Three Little Pigs. Next month we'll see a live interpretation of the book Skippyjon Jones.

Overall I think I've exposed my boys to the fine arts in a way that they are not overwhelming and to them, it's simply a part of the fun things we do.

This post is part of the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog Cruise. The Cruise will go live on Tuesday, April 24th. I will add that link HERE once it is live. Please also note - all links to products shared are for informational purposes only - they are not affiliate links.


  1. A friend and I tried a small "co-op" with just our two families this year and it was so much less stressful than when trying to coordinate a crowd. How cool for you and your kids to be able to do that with family.

  2. We attended a 3 day art session with Barry Stebbing & loved it. We have never done any of his History but my daughter Morgan has some drawings in his The Wonderful Art of Drawing Horses.


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