Since we studied American history this year, I wanted to bring in some fun and Charlotte Mason aspects to our homeschool that specifically focused on the United States. Our Heart of Dakota curriculum already had a hymn study built into the program, but I wanted to do some folk songs (America has soooo many!) and art appreciation (U.S.A. style!).
The way I did our study was during Circle Time, which I do every morning with all of the children, I would focus on one folk song or artist for the week. I alternated between songs and artists each week, then on the fifth day of our week, we reviewed all of the songs and artists we had learned about so far.
For the folk songs I used two main resources: Wee Sing Fun n' Folk and Wee Sing America. I recommend buying the songs individually through MP3 download, but please remember that you will not have the songbooks that contain the lyrics if you choose this option. It wasn't a big deal to me because I just typed the lyrics into a Word document so my daughter would have something to read from. The folk songs that I chose were for two primary reasons: 1) It was a song that meant something to me personally (Paw Paw Patch and Bought Me a Cat) or 2) It was a song that taught something important about American history (The Star-Spangled Banner and Dixie). Feel free to use whatever songs you would like. This is merely my list.
For the art appreciation I used two main books to decide upon what artists we would cover: 50 American Artists You Should Know and 13 American Artists Children Should Know. My library had both of these books so I didn't have to purchase them. I chose two works by each artist for my children to learn. I tried to choose their most famous works, but I also based my decision on some old art books my husband had found for me at a library book sale. Feel free to use whatever works you feel are most important. I did try to order the artists chronologically to the best of my ability.
I did our art study in this order. On the first day, I would give the children some background information on the artist that basically consisted of where they were from in the United States, how they got their start as an artist, what genre of art they were most famous for (portrait, landscape, photography, etc.), and something about their life that was interesting. I used the above books and the internet for research and wrote the information on an index card with the artist's name at the top. On the second day, I reviewed what we'd learned on day one and then introduced the first work of art I wanted them to learn. I told them the name of the piece, what the picture was about, and why the artist painted it. If I could find any information about symbolism in the painting or artistic terms that I could bring to their attention, I included that as well. A search on the internet for the painting's name will most likely bring up quite a bit of information. I found picutres of the paintings online and then had them printed as 4x6 photographs at Wal-Mart if I didn't already have a picture from the art book mentioned above. On the third day, we reviewed everything we had learned. On the fourth day, we reviewed, and I introduced the second work of art in the same way I introduced the first. On the fifth day, we reviewed everything we had learned that week and also reviewed all the folk songs and other artists we had previously learned.
Week 1: The Star-Spangled Banner
Week 2: Native American Art: I checked out books from the library to show my children various examples of Native American art. I focused on totem poles, jewelry, and pottery. I talked a lot about some reocurring themes in Native American art, specifically animals.
Week 3: Yankee Doodle:This song was originally used by the British to make fun of the "backwards" American colonists. During the American Revolution, the colonists adopted it as their own, and it has been an American folk song ever since.
Week 4: Benjamin West: Born and raised in Pennsylvania colony to a Quaker family. Taught by the Native Americans how to mix paints from things found in nature. Became a portrait artist for King George III whom the colonists were fighting to be free from his rule. West urged the king to let the Americans have their independence. We studied Colonel Guy Johnson and Karonghyontye (Captain David Hill) and William Penn's Treaty with the Indians.
Week 5: She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain: This song is not listed on either of the two albums above, but this song is very common and you probably already know it.
Week 6: John Singleton Copley: Born in Boston, Massachusetts. Became a famous portrait artist. Married into a wealthy Boston family. He had to flee with his family to England during the Revolutionary War because his family and his wife's family sided with the Tories. We studied The Copley Family and Paul Revere.
Week 7: Turkey in the Straw
Week 8: Gilbert Stuart: Born in Rhode Island. Goes to England when he's 20 to study art. Becomes famous as a portrait artist. Returns to the United States when he's 38. Paints the first six U.S. presidents. We studied The Athenaeum (basis for Washington's portrait on the dollar bill!) and Mrs. Richard Yates.
Week 9: America
Week 10: James Whistler: Born in Massachusetts. Attends West Point for three years, but is dismissed after repeated discipline issues. Moves to Paris, then London, and travels back and forth between the two for the rest of his life. Most famous for the painting of his mother, which was actually an accident. The scheduled model couldn't make it that day, so his mother stepped in, but she could not stand for very long because of her advanced age, so he placed her in a chair. This "mistake" led to one of the most famous paintings of all time: Whistler's Mother. We also studied The White Girl.
Week 11: Buffalo Gals
Week 12: Winslow Homer
Week 13: Paw Paw Patch
Week 14: Mary Cassatt
Week 15: Sweet Betsy From Pike
Week 16: John Singer Sargent
Week 17: Dixie
Week 18: Frederic Remington
Week 19: O, Susanna: This song is not listed on either of the two albums above, but this song is very common, and you probably already know it.
Week 20: Edward Hopper
Week 21: The Old Chisholm Trail
Week 22: Grant Wood
Week 23: Bought Me a Cat
Week 24: Georgia O'Keeffe
Week 25: Battle Hymn of the Republic
Week 26: Norman Rockwell
Week 27: Home on the Range: This song is not listed on either of the two albums above, but this song is very common, and you probably already know it.
Week 28: Grandma Moses
Week 29: I've Been Workin' on the Railroad
Week 30: Jackson Pollock
Week 31: This Land is Your Land: This song is not listed on either of the two albums above, but this song is very common, and you probably already know it.
Week 32: Ansel Adams
Week 33: The United States: This song will teach your children the names of all fifty states in alphabetical order.
As you noticed some of the artist information is not finished, and I will be filling those in as I get the time, but this will at least give you a start.
I hope you have as much fun with this study as we have!