How To Include Artist Study in Your First Grade Homeschool

Artist study is one of those little treasures that many would love to include in their homeschool. Unfortunately, it’s often one that’s left off.


Why do we leave out all of these little extras that can bring so much wonder and joy into our home and homeschool?

I think it’s because people conceive artist study as something high brow, something difficult to implement. If we weren’t educated to understand and appreciate fine art, how on earth are we supposed to teach these skills to our children?

Basically, what is holding us back is fear. I talked about how to overcome this in a general way in this post, but today I want to give some more specific and practical advice on how to go about adding artist study into your home.

And the good news is, it’s easier than you think! Not only that, but it also helps fill some of those gaps in our own education. It’s never too late to learn the things we missed out on. This is one of those magical things about home education. While we are busy educating our children, we are busy educating ourselves as well!

We’re a few years into our homeschool adventure now. There are times when we manage to fit in all of those wonderful dishes of Charlotte Mason’s feast. And there are times when we aren’t so good at keeping up with it all. But  time and again we come back to artist study, purely because it is so much fun!

Of course, it evolves and grows as we do, but this is how we started out. Way back when my eldest was in first grade…

First Grade Homeschool Artist Study

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We are enjoying our first foray into the world of art appreciation with a Charlotte Mason inspired artist study.

“We aim at putting the children in touch with the great artist minds of all ages. We try to unlock for their delectation the wonderful garden of Art, in which grow most lovely flowers, most wholesome fruits.” PNEU

imageTo start us off we read James Mayhew’s book, ‘Katie and the Waterlily Pond’. In this book, the little girl Katie visits a gallery with her Grandma and decides to enter a painting competition. She jumps in and out of paintings, learning about Monet’s works as she goes. It was a HUGE hit in our house and has already been re-read several times.



Next up we decided to explore watercolours. We didn’t feel the need to recreate a particular picture, instead we played with the paints and made doodle drawings, exploring the properties of watercolours as we played. We used our watercolour palette from Big W because it has beautiful, easy to use colours without being expensive. This one is really similar to the one we have.

I also added some prints to our walls so that Nikolai could see the art on a daily basis. This really helps children to become familiar with the works. You can purchase quality prints specifically for artist study, but for this first experience of artist study I simply borrowed a book of Monet’s works from the library and photocopied a few of my favourite paintings.   Laminate, attach velcro dots, mount on wall to admire. Done! The dots will make it easy to change to pictures when we move on to our next artist.

In the spirit of keeping things low-key and fun, as well as helping to cultivate the habit of noticing details, Nikolai and I played a game where we took turns to look at a picture, close our eyes and recall as many details as quickly as we could. He surprised me with how observant he was!

We plan to find France on our globe and possibly read a short biography we found in the children’s section of our local library. Nothing fancy or expensive happening here. If you keep a timeline you could add your artist to help your children place them in history (we don’t do this at this stage as we won’t start history as a formal study until fifth grade)

That’s it.

No quizzes. No expectations. Just exploration and enjoyment.

Enriching our children’s education with all these ‘little extras’ can be as simple or complex as you wish. My advice though is to not overthink things. Keep it simple and just start. You can always deepen the study at a later date, but you don’t want to miss out on it altogether.

Do you include artist study in your homeschool?

Leave a comment below to share how it looks in your home 🙂



2 thoughts on “How To Include Artist Study in Your First Grade Homeschool

  1. We are studying Vincent Van Gogh and we have the book about Katie and ….. I can’t think of the title but it has to do with Starry Night and we love it! We use a kit from Simply Charlotte Mason and just hang a new picture up every week or so…. I read a picture book about Van Gogh and the one with Katie. We just talk about the pictures- what we like, what we see that’s similar and different,etc. I was thrilled that my son picked out Starry Night in another picture book that was completely unrelated and remembered the name and Van Gogh’s name. YAY!

    1. It’s exciting seeing them make the connections, isn’t it! I’ll have to have a look at the SCM kit. It’s often expensive to buy homeschool resources here in Australia due to international shipping costs so DIY is my go-to for almost everything ?

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