Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hudson River School Art Cards

Whew, I finally finished formatting all the art cards for the year. Term 3 of the Ambleside Artist schedule includes paintings by artist from The Hudson River School. I have never heard of any of them before now, but the paintings we are going to be studying this term are absolutely beautiful. I think they really capture the essence of the American Frontier ideal. I'm curious to see what my girls think of them. There are some rather large files here, because not only will be be studying some compilations, but there are also quite a few "extra interest" recommendations. I'm not sure how or if we will use them, but I am going to print everything. If I have it, I might decide to use it. If I don't have it ready, I know it won't get done!

As usual, click on the images to download the 4x6 photo file. These can be printed at any photo kiosk. To print three images per page, click the links to download a .pdf file. This option is great if you prefer to print at home or an office supply store.

First up are the assigned paintings. Download the three-on-a-page file here.

Here are the extra interest options. You can download the three-on-a-page file here.

Apparently Cole was quite fond of painting series illustrating cycles - notice both the Empire series and the Journey series. On a side note, I was ridiculously proud of myself when I recognized "Destruction" as the cover illustration on a book about the fall of the Roman empire. Yet again I have to admit that I am learning at least as much as my kids are from this homeschooling thing!
My husband grew up near Cotopaxi, Colorado. This is not that Cotopaxi, in case you are wondering. Apparently Church journeyed to the Andes to view the fabled volcano.

This is my own personal addition. I stumbled across it while searching for other art paintings, and I love it too much not to include it for my kiddos.

What do you think of this term's artwork? It's a big change from Manet in Term 2! Are you going to include the optional artwork? How do you plan on working it in?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Manet Art Cards

It's time for another round of art cards...

Edouard Manet is scheduled for Term 2 on the Ambleside Artist Rotation; however, the large art museum in our state is going to have a French exhibit from October to December which will include Renoir, Monet, and Manet. The kids are already enthusiastic about the Impressionist paintings we studied last year. I am going to move Manet to the first term, and I hope that they will recognize some old friends when we visit. I'm a little nervous about taking my Tempest into a real, official, art museum, but both of the older girls are quite excited. I just can't see leaving my Tempest-girl at home, even if she is a little wild and crazy. They are going to have at least one Renoir on display, and I must admit that I am pretty eager to see it in real life. No matter how beautiful, prints never do justice compared to the real thing. At any rate, if you hear a tragic tale about a Renoir painting, a small homeschool girl, and destructively flying hands and feet... that might just be us in the news. Pray for me!

I'm curious to see if Manet's paintings are going to become more attractive to me as we spend some time together. After spending the term with Renoir's warm, intimate portraits, Manet's work feels a little flat to me. That is my completely un-art-educated opinion, and I am very willing to change my mind.

These files are formatted for 4x6 prints. Right click the image and save it. If you prefer to print three cards on a standard-sized page, you can download the .pdf file here.


Click to download the .pdf
As we roll into the new year, I need to clean out all of last year's paperwork. That means that I have to decide what I am going to do with all of our beautiful art prints. I decided to keep them in a binder with the kids' Books of Masterpieces. Of course, that means that we need a snazzy binder cover. Here is the cover, if you would like to print it out for your own binder. At this point in time, our collection is not complete, because each of my girls absconded with their favorite Renoir print. I must admit, I'm not exactly complaining.

Do you keep a Book of Masterpieces? What do you do with your art prints after you are done studying them?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Making it Personal - the Book of Masterpieces

Teacup and Tempest really enjoy having their own Book of Masterpieces. I hype it as something very special, just for the students in the family. The Toddler can't wait to get her own when she starts school. After we study each full-sized painting, they each get an Art Card to add to their books. The books are on the open-access shelf where the kids can pull them down whenever they want to. As yet, they don't bring them down of their own initiative very often, but they do like to browse through all the pictures whenever we add a new one. I prefer to keep things simple, so we use a photo album that holds over 200 - 4x6" prints. By the time they graduate, each child's book will have all the pictures she has studied from kindergarten through 12th grade.

For the artist schedule we will be using, please visit Ambleside Art Study. In Term 1 we are scheduled to study John Singleton Copley, an American artist during the late Colonial/Revolutionary War period. After reading biographies of Washington and Franklin for months in Year 1, I am excited to spend some time with an artist from the same period. My card files are formatted as 4x6 photos. Right click on each image to save it, and then have it printed at any photo kiosk.* I like to have them printed on matte paper, which means I usually have to order online. If you prefer to print them three on a page, you can download that file here

I think my girls are going to be especially excited about this picture. One of their favorite books of all time is Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges.
December is going to have a Christmas focus, so this will be our picture for that month.

Have you ever heard of Artist Trading Cards? I have heard people mention them, but they never registered in my mind before now. Apparently the only rule is that they must be 2.5 x 3 inches. On that miniature canvass, you can let your imagination run wild! This year, I am making some sets of ATCs for the kids with the art study paintings.
Download Page 1
Download Page 2

I printed three sets so they can use them for games. So far I have thought of Memory Match, Go Fish, and letting them use them like flashcards if they choose to challenge themselves or each other. (Please not that I will not be doing any kind of parent-led identification challenge with them, but if they choose to use them that way, I won't stop them. Ultimately, our goal is for the kids to develop a familiarity with and love for art - not for them to memorize a list of paintings or artists.) I'll be interested to see what else the kids come up with. What would you use them for? Do you have anything fun planned for this year's art studies?

*If you want to use these for your family or group's study, download them with my blessings. It should go without saying, but please don't copy the files and pass them off as your own work, don't sell the files, and don't sell the prints. Basically, the Golden Rule still applies!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

2013-14 Folk Songs

Sooo... folk songs. Can I just admit that I don't really know what we're doing here with these? Some of them are lovely. They give a real feel for the people of certain nations. Others are... well... a little macabre. I suppose that gives a feel for cultures, too, but I'm not so sure that we are going to use them - at least not at this point, with kids this age. Last year, we substituted patriotic songs, which I suppose are a kind of folk song. It was enjoyable, but I'm looking to expand a bit further afield this year. At any rate, here we are with the 2013-14 Ambleside Folk Songs rotation, and I'm giving it a shot. There are several articles linked from Ambleside's main page that explain more about folk music and why you would want to study it. I suppose it would be helpful if I read through those!

My ideal would be to burn CDs for composer, hymn, and folksong studies. That probably isn't going to happen, so YouTube is the next best thing. I have a playlist of all the songs for the year. My plan is to play the folk song for that month during our Table Time, then turn on the whole playlist occasionally. I suppose if I get ambitious, I could look up the history of the song and tell my kids about it. That was fun for some of the patriotic songs last year.

You can access my entire playlist here. I picked my favorite one or two versions of each song. Personally, I prefer a classic, down-home feel for the songs. I really wanted clear lyrics if possible, and I prefer a simple arrangement to the music. Other people like a more choral sound, a classical feel, or something else altogether. You can copy my list in part, in its entirety, or search through to find the versions you prefer, or play directly from the blog.

September: The Three Ravens

This one would be the macabre one I mentioned. It is about three ravens trying to decide what to eat for breakfast. They eventually settle on the dead body of the knight over in yonder field and the doe who died trying to bury him. Umm, yeah. I may replace this one with an American folk song, maybe something from the Appalachian mountain region.

 Peter, Paul and Mary

This Mary Hopkin video has some lovely pictures, including images from Medieval illuminated manuscripts.

October: On Ilkha Moor Baht' At

This is a fun tune about a boy who goes out on the Yorkshire moors baht' at (without a hat). A terrible fate befalls him in this cautionary tale. The tune is peppy, the lyrics are so over-the-top that they are funny, and I enjoyed hearing the Yorkshire dialect. It reminded me of the maid, Martha, in The Secret Garden.

This video has nice, clear vocals.

 This one has beautiful landscape pictures and a peppier version of the tune.

November: The Rose of Tralee

A traditional Irish love song:
      She was lovely and fair as the rose of the summer
      Yet, it was not her beauty alone that won me
      Oh no! 'Twas the the truth in her eyes ever dawning
      That made me love Mary, the Rose of Tralee.

I think this version is just lovely - simple music, clear vocals, and a nice accent.

More impressive landscape photography.

January: The Battle of Otterburn

This Scottish song is about a border skirmish between the Scots and the English in 1388

This video tells the story behind the song using text and pictures from the local area.

This version by The Wolfhound is much more difficult to understand, because of the broad accent of the singer. I like the sound better, though.

February: Wade in the Water

An African American slave spiritual

A classic version from The Staples.

This video includes quite a bit more information about the African slaves. Some of the images may be disturbing. Then again, I guess they should be.

A beautifully danced rendition.

 March: Down in the Valley
Roses love sunshine, violets love dew,
Angels in Heaven know I love you,
From "Songs my Father Taught Me to Love." What a great title for a folk album!

April: Scarborough Fair

This Simon & Garfunkel version includes the lyrics, which is always helpful to me and my kids.

Not only do I love their voices, I thought my girls would particularly appreciate this video. First of all, there are three sisters in the group like their own family. Secondly, you can see the singers playing traditional instruments, which are lovely.

This version has more of a British feel to it than the Simon & Garfunkel version. It also includes landscape photography from the Scarborough area.

May: The Rising of the Moon

An Irish battle rally song about the uprising of 1798

      I bear orders from the captain - get you ready quick and soon
      For the pikes must be together by the rising of the moon...

      Well they fought for poor old Ireland, and full bitter was their fate,
      Oh what glorious pride and sorrow, fills the name of ninety-eight!
      Yet, thank God, e'en still are beating hearts in manhood burning noon,
      Who would follow in their footsteps, at the risin' of the moon

Includes newspaper, video, and photographs.

A more traditional Irish feel.

May: The Belle of Belfast City

A fast, fun song about a pretty little heartbreaker from Belfast City.


 I don't like the vocals and music quite as much, but this video shows the lyrics

Have you included folk music in your kiddo's curriculum? What did you think? Do you prefer to limit your playlist to local or national music, or do you venture further afield for your selections?

Monday, August 5, 2013

2013-14 Art Study

Ever since I got over the fact that I have no formal art instruction and very little skill in making art, I have enjoyed our picture studies immensely. We look at the pictures. We flip them over and try to describe what we saw. We turn them back and see how well we did at remembering. Sometimes we laugh (nicely!) at each other for silly mistakes, and I am often astonished at the details their little eyes pick up. Some terms I am really ambitious and I read a biography, but let's be honest here - that doesn't happen often. For the most part, we just enjoy the art. Almost incidentally, we have talked about mood, color, how that particular painter plays with light, and comparisons and contrasts to other artists and art movements. In our home, all of those details are explored and discovered together. I am no expert, so how can I teach them what they should be seeing? The happy outcome of this method has been that they get to discover for themselves. They are curious and active in their investigation, rather than being passively receptive to the information I hand out. They have learned an astonishing amount just by looking, enjoying, and letting it all seep in.

This year, I am particularly excited to see two terms focusing on American artists. Of course, there is a huge body of beautiful European, Middle Eastern, and Asian art. American art, however, has a unique feel to it. There is an immensity and wildness to it that you don't see in too many other places. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I have a soft spot for it because that is our national heritage. At any rate, I am really looking forward to our art studies this year using the Ambleside Online 2013-14 Artist Schedule. There are also some excellent informational links on the page (which I may or may not get around to).

There are several free art print files floating around. Over the past year, I have developed a particular look that I prefer. I want my prints to be very clean, with plenty of white space, and minimal printing to distract from the image. On the other hand, the prints are going to go into a binder after the term is over, so I do want some information on them for when we look back later. This year, I added the title and date of the work and the artist's name and life dates, and what style of art the piece belongs to. (Is there a general name for art movements like Impressionism, Pointillism, or Cubism? If you know something about art, please leave me a comment!) If this particular layout doesn't work for you, keep looking. I know there is at least one set available on the AO forums, and another on the Yahoo group AO Art Prints. If you like these images, feel free to download them and use them for your own family's studies.* Please remember that these are rather large files. They may take a while to download. Click on the image to see what the prints look like. Click on the link to download the full term's files.

Term 1: John Singleton Copley, American

Download the full-sized prints for the term. 

 Term 2: Eduard Manet, French Impressionist

Download the full-sized prints for the term.
Note: If you got your prints before 10/15/13, please download the updated file. There were several mistakes and one missing print. I must have skipped my coffee the morning I created these!

Term 3: The Hudson River School - Cole, Church, Cropsey, Durand

Download the full-sized prints for the term.

I have just a few final notes:

1. All three of these files include the full range of suggested prints for the year, including alternates and extras. If you want to minimize your printing costs, be sure to delete the pages you are not going to use before you send the file to the print shop. I printed them all out. I will probably just hang the extras up for the kids to enjoy, rather than trying to squeeze them into school time.

2. I have my prints done at Office Max. Their prices are reasonable, and the prints look beautiful on their glossy cardstock. I download my files online and pick them up at my local shop. I believe they will ship them if you don't have a local store. All the prints for the year, including alternates and extras, cost me less than $20.

3. All of these images are in the public domain - that means they are no longer protected by copyright laws - based on the limitation of the artist's lifetime plus 75 years. To avoid being hassled at pickup, I wrote this on all the files I downloaded, and added it in the "note" section before I sent in the job. The technician at Office Max teased me a little because I wrote it on the job at least three times, but I got my prints with no problem!

4. I still need to finish the art cards for the year. Those will hopefully be posted soon, so check back or subscribe for notification.

Do you do art study? Do you follow the Ambleside rotation or do something else? Which painter(s) are you looking forward to the most this year? Do your kids have any favorites?

*If you want to use these for your family or group's study, download them with my blessings. It should go without saying, but please don't copy the files and pass them off as your own work, don't sell the files, and don't sell the prints. Basically, the Golden Rule still applies!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Looking back...

Coming back to the blog after so long of a hiatus feels a bit like slinking into school after a week of playing hooky. I hope you will forgive my tardiness and indulge me as I look back over our school year.

Year 0.5 was a delight with Tempest. I was worried that kindergarten would be a repeat of our disastrous attempt at sit-down preschool. *Insert tantrums, stubborness, and ugly faces—from the four year old AND from Mom—here.* Actually, we both had fun, and she seemed to thrive on the increased structure. Her reading is taking off. After the struggle of pushing Teacup to read when she wasn't ready, teaching Tempest has been... well... fun! She thinks her little BOB books are terribly funny, and she loves the math pages from her Singapore Kindergarten book. Handwriting was less happily received, but she still made good progress and (more important to me) kept a relatively cheerful attitude about it. If you know Tempest, you know that a relatively cheerful attitude over an unloved task is a huge accomplishment. As we head into the formal school years, I'm pretty impressed by the growth I see in my little storm cloud. She is especially excited to claim the Year 1 books for her own this fall. Or possibly in January. Yeah, I still haven't decided when to start her... just keepin' it real here.

For Teacup, Year 2 clicked right along. She is reading more on her own. This year she took over Understood Betsy, Burgess Animal Book, The Wind in the Willows, parts of Tree in the Trail and nearly all the free reads. The rest of Ambleside's Year 2 booklist we read together.  She could have read more on her own, but I wanted to enjoy this time together before I have to give her more independence and give more attention to the younger students. I also was not ready to give up reading her history aloud together. The narrative style of Ambleside's history recommendations make them as interesting as a novel. I find myself learning at least as much as the kids! Teacup's handwriting lessons were even less happily received, but she kept at it. She grumbles and whines, but she presses on because she is eager to learn cursive. The switch to Singapore math was a huge success. While Math-U-See is an excellent program, she got bored doing pages of addition for months on end. Seeing new material every few weeks has kept her excited and engaged. I love to see the girls making up little math games for each other through the day. I even have to hold them back from trying to teach the Toddler to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. "She's only three, guys; give her a break" is a fairly regular mantra at our house! Despite my protests, they have managed to teach her to count (pretty much) to twenty and add and subtract by one. Yeah, I'm a proud Mama and teacher, but it's more for their excitement than for the Toddler's academic achievements.

For the most part, a combination of better planning on my part last year and the excellent AmblesideOnline curriculum kept our studies rolling right along through the rest of the winter weather—which finally hit with a vengeance around the end of April and held on into June—and through the short and chilly springtime. Despite the fickle summer weather, we decided to set our schoolbooks aside and soak up all the sunshine we could. Last summer we dropped math and handwriting, but kept a light load of Ambleside readings. Apparently we needed of more of a break this year. We haven't touched our school work more than a couple of times in the last 10 weeks. Instead, this has been our motto for the summer:

Hiking, swimming, exploring the river, and all manner of outside playtime have been our biggest priorities this summer. I am slowly discovering that our year is not going to look the same from start to finish. Not only is that okay, it's actually pretty great! We have the privilege of structuring our year around the rhythms of the seasons, and I am grateful for it. Our garden is filling up with produce, and canning season is revving up. Jars of strawberry-rhubarb jam are sparkling on my counter, and Colorado Western Slope peaches are starting to arrive at the farmer's markets. As much as we love summer, I am also excited that fall is coming. I'm already dreaming of pumpkin butter, the kids have asked for Argentine stew in a pumpkin shell, and they are already planning their Halloween costumes. I know when the weather turns chilly, we will be ready to hunker down with our books and pictures and music. Every season brings something new to get excited about. This summer, however, has been a wonderful time of rest, rejuvenation, and—best of all—catching up with friends.

Looking back over our school year, I am pretty pleased. My biggest goal was to firmly establish our arts studies - hymn, composer, picture, and folk song studies. We weren't perfect. The last month or two, we lost steam, and our art 'study' was reduced to mom commenting "Hey you girls, I put up a new picture on the school cupboard" as I served lunch. *blush* Composer and hymn studies were dropped altogether, which I regret. If I had taken the time to put together a YouTube playlist, I could at least have played the music in the background during meals. Overall, however, I feel like we got into a good habit, and the kids enjoyed it so very much. Teacup regularly hums classic hymns to herself, while Tempest wanders around the house belting out The Anvil Chorus at the top of her lungs—bum bum buuuum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum BUMP! All three of them adored Renoir's paintings, and they seem to have developed a soft spot for the Impressionists as a whole. (There may or may not have been cheering when I told them that we were going to study Manet next year.) I had hoped to finish Term 2 over the summer, but we still have about four weeks to go. Still, I feel like we have had a lot of success. We have plenty of time to finish Year 2 by the end of the year, and we might even be able to take all of December off. Woo hoo!

This year, my main goals are to establish Nature Study—including weekly entries into our nature notebooks—and map work. Because so much of Charlotte Mason's program of study is different from what I grew up with as school work, I find that focusing on building good habits in one or two subjects at a time works much better than trying to jump in with both feet and quickly getting burned out. Since the prep work last year served me so well, I am working even harder to get ready for this year. Full-sized art prints for the whole year are finished and printed. Expect to see those posted soon. I finished the YouTube playlist for our folk songs, and links to those videos are also coming soon. I still need to put together the art cards for our Books of Masterpieces, and our YouTube playlists for composer and hymn studies. It is wonderful to have so many free online resources to gather music and art from.

With the summer nearly over, how are you feeling about the upcoming year? Are you ready to jump in, or still hesitating on the edge of the water?!