Marvelous Monday – Art & Music (the doing)

     It’s easy to overlook the importance of music and art in our homeschools.  However, music and art are essential.  God has created us to worship Him in many ways, including musically.   He has created us in His own image, the image of  the Creator, and giving our children ways to express that creativity through art, and music, is needful.  Private lessons on musical instruments, or voice, and art classes can be expensive for one child, let alone a family with many children.  If you can afford these, great; but what if you can’t? 


     The easiest thing, and least expensive, is simply to sing with your children.  I would venture to guess that all of you have some recorded vocal music in your home.  Put it on the stereo and sing out with your children.  Help them with any words that they have trouble with (but I LOVE the mis-spoken words that the kids can come up with, too!).  Just sing!  My family has enjoyed many titles in the the “Wee Sing” series.
     If you have some music background, which I don’t, you can teach them to harmonize.  Break out the hymnal (we find great old hymnals frequently at garage sales and thrift stores) and teach your children how to read the stanzas line by line.  Again, if you have musical experience, begin pointing out the notes and teaching them to read music. 

     My boys and I have been enjoying learning a hymn every week using Hymns for a Kid’s Heart.  The book includes the story behind the hymn, and a devotional thought as well, which helps us understand how the composer came to write such beautiful words.  We’ll be ordering  Hymns for a Kid’s Heart  – Great Hymns of Our Faith to use next.

     When my girls were little I used Keyboard Capers, Music Theory for Children.  Dani remembers loving this little program.  I’m sure that it gave her the head start she needed before she started taking piano lessons later. 

     Provide lots of inexpensive, easy play instruments for your children.  Invest in the best quality you can afford and they will outlast your children.  What a blessing to be able to pass things like this along for your own children to use in homeschooling the grandbabies!  No musical ability on the parent’s part is required for these ideas:

          Rhythm Instruments – Let the kids play with these however they like.  Take some time and show them how to keep time with the music you are listening to together. 
          Harmonica– There’s something about little boys and harmonicas.  My son-in-love is a serious harmonica player, so it was only natural that both of my boys wanted to learn.  Neither has really pursued it, but it’s fun hearing them break out the harmonicas, from time to time, and playing a bit.  Pick up a kids’ harmonica book and see how they do.    
          Recorders – are another great “I can play it by myself” instrument. 
          Lap Harp– The lap harp has been a hit in our home for years.  Most come complete with music cards so that the children can begin playing music right away.

     Take some time to point out verses in the Bible, as you read, that show your children the importance of music in worship.  Scripture also gives us other examples of the importance of music.  Remember David being called in to play his harp to sooth Saul?  Make sure your children understand that music is a gift from God to His people.


     As with music, one of the simplest, least expensive ways to teach your children art is just to supply them with some basic tools and let them go.  Give some basic instructions, of course, but stand back and marvel at their creations.  You may be amazed at the natural ability that some of your children may exhibit.  Paper, crayons, water colors, etc. can go a long way.  The key is to have the supplies readily available for your children to use.  Ideally you will be able to provide a spot where the kids can work and leave the projects out to be completed later.  Art is messy, just expect it and don’t let it bug you.

     Most of us want to provide more than just the basics in the way of supplies, but it doesn’t all have to be purchased at once.  Buy that easel when you see it at the garage sale.  Pick up several sets of markers, art erasers and drawing pencils when the stores have their back to school sales in the fall.  Keep your eyes open for fun arts & crafts supplies when you shop.  Wikki StixSculpey polymer clay, and quality Prismacolor colored pencils can often be purchased at your local craft store with a 40% off coupon.  Little by little, bit by bit, you can begin to accumulate some terrific art supplies for your home.  Watch out for “how to” books at garage sales and in thrift stores and add these to your art supply area.

     A wide variety of art programs are available on the homeschool market these days.  A couple of decades ago, when we first got started, our choices were pretty limited.  You are fortunate to have such a large market to choose from.  I’m thankful that I have made choices that were a good fit for my family.  Here’s what we’ve used, and loved!

     Nothing makes kids happier than colorful, easy to do projects that they can be proud of.  A Beka Book has a great series of books for your littlest “let me do school, too” learners, through third grade.  (I’ve not used their upper elementary books, so please note that my review is limited to the books for preschool – third grade.)  The A Beka Art Projects books, entirely consumable,  are inexpensive ($10-$13) and will last a full year.  The projects are printed on sturdy, heavy-weight paper, and each page is perforated for easy removal.  Instructions for each project are printed right on the pages.  A Beka has gone the extra step and added color to the back sides of most project pages as well.  For example, a Noah’s Ark mobile will look like an ark on the back side, as well as the front. 
     Projects are seasonally appropriate and cover most holidays.  A Beka is a Christian publisher, so your child’s art work will frequently feature Biblical themes and/or Bible verses.  The projects are age appropriate, and cover the basics of art (coloring, cutting, pasting, assembly, etc.).   Some drawing instruction is included as well.  These are the types of projects that you will be proud to display in your home or mail off to Grandma and Grandpa.  You will need to supply glue, scissors, a hole punch, crayons and a few other inexpensive supplies that you likely already have on hand – bits of yarn, pom-poms, wiggly eyes, perhaps a pipe cleaner or two, that sort of thing.  All supplies you will need, along with the lessons that require them, are listed for you at the beginning of each book.
     All of my children have loved using the A Beka Art Projects books through third grade.  Highly recommended!

     From about second grade on, we have used various books from Barry Stebbing’s wonderful
How Great Thou Art publications.  HGTA does publish for the younger crowd, too.  We have loved each and every title that we’ve purchased from this Christian publisher, and my children have learned valuable drawing skills, art theory and painting techniques at the same time.  I’m not an artist by any stretch, so I needed a curriculum that would stand alone without a lot of help from Mom.  (My husband, however, is an artist and I call on him now to critique the kids’ art lessons for them.)  The instructions given in the student books are sufficient.  There is no need for the separate teacher’s books.  Here are the titles we’ve used in the past or are currently using,.  They are all winners!!  Basic art supplies are all that is required beyond the purchase of the books – high quality, blendable colored pencils, markers, drawing pencils, simple paints and brushes. 
          Baby Lamb’s Book of Art ( rec. for ages 3 – 5), we used this at about age 7 with good results
          Joseph the Canada Goose (rec. for ages 4 – 8)  My boys both used this at about age 8 and LOVED it!
          I Can Do All Things (rec. for ages 6 – 10)  Pricey at about $40, but this book will give you three full years of art instruction!  We used this right after Baby Lamb’s and Joseph the Canada Goose, so at about ages 8 – 10.
          Lamb’s Book of Art I and II (rec. for ages 8 and up)  The two books can be used at the same time.  Will is working in these right now (he’s 10) and we bounce around a bit in them to keep from getting bogged down on one type of lesson (drawing, color, etc.).  We’re doing lessons about three days a week, so we’ll get a couple of years of art from these books.
          Feed My Sheep (rec for ages 10 and up).  Aaron, age 15, is currently using Feed My Sheep for his art program.  Like I Can Do All Things, this is written to be a three year art program, thus making the $40 price tag quite bearable.  The instruction is, in my opinion, well suited for the older student.  I know that my ten year old could not handle this book; but, unfortunately, my children didn’t inherit their dad’s artistic bent. 
          How Great Thou Art I and II (rec for ages 12 and up)  After Feed My Sheep, this is where we go, using this text until high school graduation.  Terrific!  So far, all of my students have graduated from high school before finishing this particular curriculum, but those who start it a bit earlier than we have, will have no problem finishing. 
          More is available from HGTA than what we’ve used, including books for younger children, an art history curriculum and an art program for “serious” art students.  How Great Thou Art publications – highly, highly recommended.

     For students who just want to learn the basics of drawing, we have used and liked Bruce McIntyre’s
Drawing Textbook.  Step by step, easy to learn, I think this book could even teach me to draw!  The book builds gradually from the simplest drawing to more complex.  We’ve enjoyed this book here.

     All of my kids enjoy doing little craft projects for various holidays and seasons.  Oriental Trading Company has hundreds of crafts at affordable prices.  Most craft kits are sold by the dozen.  I buy these and we sit down with the grandbabies on Thursdays and we all have the same project to work on.  I’ve also teamed up with another homeschooling mom and we’ve split these kits between our families.  The projects are, for the most part, ridiculously inexpensive.  The instructions are sometimes a bit vague, so you’ll want to stand by to offer help.  This is a great way to have fun crafts to enjoy with the whole family.

     Head over to the music major’s blog for her Marvelous Monday – Art & Music post.    

God bless you as you look well to the ways of your household!
Proverbs 31:27

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2 comments to Marvelous Monday – Art & Music (the doing)

  • Hi, I just discovered your blog and found it very helpful and lovely, so I have given you an award and you can pick it up at my blog See you around!

  • I recently began teaching out of Alfred’s “Music For Little Mozarts” to one 4yr old, one 5 yr old and two 6yr olds. They love it. I like that it’s designed for pre-reading kids to be able to practice on their own, and yet has such detailed information that any parent (even non-music background) could follow!:)