{Virtual Curriculum Fair 2014} Seeking Beauty: The Arts in Our Classical Homeschool

 photo null_zpsc32d845c.jpg
For the fourth and final week of the Virtual Curriculum Fair 2014, we are discussing Seeking Beauty: The Arts and Everything That Brings Beauty to our World.

If you missed my previous posts in this series, you can visit them here:
Week 1 - Language Arts - coming soon!
Week 2 - Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Science, and Logic in Our Classical Homeschool
Week 3 - Exploring Our World: Social Studies and Science in Our Classical Homeschool

Seeking Beauty

The children and I spend a lot of time within our home discussing how we are created in the image of God. I often remind them they have a purpose to fulfill to share God's light, through Christ, in this world. In our homeschool setting, we frequently get opportunities to practice loving one another, being kind, sharing encouragement, and helping one another all because we are created in the image of God with the purpose of reflecting His glory.

Are things always beautiful? Are things always peaceful? Do we always have godly character?

NO. Homeschooling provides the perfect environment for testing character on a daily basis!

True to our human condition, our lives and families do not always reflect the beauty of the Lord. As we walk by the way, we do stumble often. We fail. We need to hit the reset button at times. We are learning and growing in our faith. Our mistakes give us the chance to extend grace to one another and ourselves. Yet, even through the times we fall short, the target we aim for never changes. God, the source of all beauty and goodness, created us in His image, and beckons us to reflect His glory.

Sadly, in our secular culture, beauty and virtue are lost arts. I don't want to labor long in lamenting over the loss of private and public virtue. Our society as a whole has lost its bearings. I have little power to influence the trajectory of our world, but I can focus on my own circle of influence within my home, family, and community.

As a home educator, I have the ability to foster a deep sense of beauty and purpose in our daily lives. The subjects we study, the books we read, the entertainment we select, the music we listen to, the activities we enjoy, the company we keep, all provide choices to reflect God's beauty, or to fall short of the purpose we are created for in this world.

Our foundational educational philosophies and overall worldview are formed around the truths we are given in the Bible. Our core beliefs arise out of an understanding of the beauty of God as Creator reigning sovereign over His creation.

Judeo-Christian Worldview:
  • Man is created in the image of God
  • Man has a purpose given by God
  • Wisdom, truth, goodness, and other virtues are honored and esteemed
  • Education is focused on producing virtuous citizens
In contrast, a secular worldview, apart from God, eliminates the beauty and order of God's creation.

Secular Worldview in a post postmodern world:
  • Man is a cosmic accident - a "quantum fluctuation" per Stephen Hawking
  • Man does not have a God-given purpose
  • Virtue and morality are irrelevant
  • Education is utilitarian and focused on producing workers for society
Home education, and private Christian education in general, are a passionate pursuit of seeking beauty, wisdom, and virtue. The wise folks at Circe Institute so eloquently share:

Since education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue, and since wisdom and virtue are cultivated when a soul is nourished on truth, goodness, and beauty, we must teach our children truth, goodness, and beauty. The wise person understands the world he lives in (natural science and history) and has standards by which to distinguish what is from what ought to be (ethics and politics). The wise person knows the causes of things, and therefore is able to order things rightly and to judge things justly. Wisdom appears at different levels and in different kinds. The virtuous person is disciplined, purposeful, and focused in his thinking and behavior. In education we cultivate the moral virtues, the physical virtues, and the intellectual virtues. By refining all of them, we are enabled to bring them into a harmony that we can justly call integrity. Young people become wise and virtuous when their souls feed on truth, goodness, and beauty. The only way a person can perceive truth, goodness, and beauty is if these virtues are embodied or incarnated and he is then disciplined in their imitation. For this reason, the classical school is careful to use books and artifacts that embody the true, the good, and the beautiful.
-Circe Institute

As God's children, we are created for beauty. All of our efforts towards education and creative endeavors have one sole purpose to glorify God. How can we glorify the Lord in all things? By fixing our hearts and minds upon Christ. Through God's grace, and the work of His Spirit, He will bring about beautiful things from our life stories.

I love this beautiful reminder from God's Word:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
-Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

The Message expands the commentary with some practical guidance.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. -Philippians 4:8 (MSG)

 photo 1184824_10201810859418332_529771848_n_zps8d30b42f.jpg

One of my favorite books is The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer. If you have not read this book yet, the title can be a bit misleading. This book is not about just keeping a home. Rather, it encourages all people to cultivate a life of beauty through many different creative arts.

Schaeffer presents a variety of creative arts within her book.
  • Music
  • Painting, Sketching, Sculpturing
  • Interior Decoration
  • Gardens and Gardening
  • Flower Arrangements
  • Food
  • Writing-Prose and Poetry
  • Drama
  • Creative Recreation
  • Clothing
  • Integration
  • Environment
There should be a practical result of the realization that we have been created in the image of the Creator of beauty. Whether you are married and have a family; whether you share a house or a flat with one or a number of people; whether you still live with your parents; whether you live alone and have guests in from time to time; whether you are a man or a woman; the fact that you are a Christian should show in some practical area of a growing creativity and sensitivity to beauty, rather than in a gradual drying up of creativity, and a blindness to ugliness.
-Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking

Overall, this book offers inspiration for stirring up the creative spirit to pursue after God's beauty. Reading this book helped me understand the importance of creative pursuits, fine arts, and how beauty in our home environment nourishes the soul. If you have not read this book yet, I encourage you to add this to your reading list for 2014.

I think we all innately have the the desire to create and be creative. Pinterest is such a popular social media site due to the visual arts and creativity which speaks to people's artistic souls. I have many boards saved on Pinterest which inspire me in our home and homeschool. We find so many new ideas on Pinterest for projects and activities we want to do in the future.

Our family incorporates fine arts on a weekly basis within our academic pursuits. Here are some of the ways we enjoy fine arts in our homeschool.

Musical Arts

Classical Conversations Foundations: Fine Arts
This is our third year of using the Classical Conversations Foundations Guide within our core elementary studies. We are studying Cycle 2 and this year we will cover specific areas of music and composers:

  • Classical Period 
  • Romantic Period 
  • Beethoven 
  • Brahms
  • Dvorak

We branch out and study other areas of musical arts. Resources we use for a guide are:

Romans, Reformers, Revolutionaries
We integrate the study of musical arts and composers within our explorations through history.

Simply Charlotte Mason
SCM offers a helpful guide to composers and music study.

Ambleside Online
AO shares resources for composers and music study. We do not follow the AO schedule of study, but they do offer practical ideas for incorporating a schedule of composer studies.

We like to document our learning through hands-on creative projects: 
Fine Arts notebooks on Composers
Fine Arts lapbooks

Dramatic Arts

 photo DSC_0955_zps053db723.jpg

This December, our daughter participated in her third year of the A Christmas Carol production.

 photo DSC_0472_zpse44ed985.jpg

Participating in the dramatic arts is a lengthy time commitment with weeks of rehearsals and a rigorous performance schedule. However, it is such a great blessing to work with such talented performers. Our daughter gleaned so many indirect lessons in drama and theatrical arts, she now writes her own plays, skits, and reader's theater.

During the fall, our daughter participated in the Ye-Ha! production with the White River Co-op Junior Players Drama Troupe.

 photo 969225_10202408472438284_1128185133_n_zpsb67dd412.jpg

She played the role of Miss Bracegirdle, the Schoolmarm.
 photo 1460106_10202416016386878_1123059037_n_zpsbb10530e.jpg

Her second role was Leapin' Leopard, a Two-Stroke Indian.

From October to December, we were busy with rehearsals and the productions. In order to keep up with our demanding schedules, we put certain subjects on hold such as science and Latin. We opted for a January start in these two subjects of study to accommodate for the focused period of fine arts.

Visual Arts

The children love to study visual arts through curriculum and independent projects.

We are always creating projects with our studies and incorporate painting, sketching, and sculpting in our science, nature, history, and geography studies. Every subject can be enhanced by creative arts!

Sometimes we sketch and color our nature observations.

We love using watercolor pencils!

Painting with veggies is really fun!

Feathers are a nice medium for painting.

 photo 7904_10201309414162514_1946343401_n_zpsdb6b70c0.jpg

The children love to do anything creative!

 photo null_zps0629505d.jpg

One of our favorite art companies is See the Light. You can read our review here.

Classical Conversations Foundations: Visual Arts
The Classical Conversations Foundations Guide provides us with a listing of great artists to study. In Cycle 2 we are studying:
  • Renaissance / Post Renaissance / Impressionists
  • Rembrandt
  • Linnaeus
  • Gainsborough
  • Monet
  • Degas
  • Morisot
As with our musical arts, we expand our learning explorations with additional resources.

Romans, Reformers, Revolutionaries
We integrate the study of great artists within our explorations through history. This is our core curriculum guide and we integrate all of our subjects around our studies in history. For 2013-14, our focus is on the era of AD 30 to 1799.

Simply Charlotte Mason
SCM provides a guide for the study of great artists. SCM covers 3 artists per year.

Ambleside Online
AO provides a schedule of artists to study.

We meander around in our studies and pick and choose different artists according to the historical time periods we study. If you are searching for a way to incorporate studies of Artists and Composers in your yearly curriculum plan, both Simply Charlotte Mason and Ambleside Online offer practical assistance in establishing a schedule.

Field Trips

One of our favorite ways to experience the fine arts is by taking field trips.

We love to visit:
  • Art museums
  • Symphony performances
  • Theatre performances
We live nearby thriving fine arts communities in Indianapolis and Muncie, but our frugal budget does not allow for us to enjoy all of the cultural events that are available. However, we find free and low-cost student events which allow us to experience the arts. Local orchestras hold student events that are available at a low-cost ticket price. Our local Anderson University offers many free performances available to the public. Anderson University is a blessing to our homeschooling community as they offer free musical classes led by college students. Area museums offer free ticket days and special events. So, with a little bit of research and planning, we are able to delight in the fine arts on a very low budget.

Some of the places we love to visit:
The Paramount Theatre
Concerts at Anderson University
Bill and Gloria Gaither's Studio
Anderson Center for the Arts
Festivals in downtown Anderson

Do you incorporate the study and practice of fine arts in your homeschooling schedules?


Check out what my homeschool blog buddies are sharing about the arts and beauty:  (note all links will be live by noon 1/27)

44 Awesome Free Resources to Study Art and Music! by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Finding Beauty with Classical Composers Monthly by Kristi K. @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

Art and Music Appreciation Resource Lists by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Easy Guided Drawing: Benefits and Resources by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker

A Peek into our Homeschool: Seeking Beauty by Brittney @ Mom's Heart

All Things Lovely by Michele P @Family, Faith and Fridays

Virtual Curriculum Fair: the Arts by Jennifer @ a glimpse of our life

You Gotta Have Art! by Lisa@GoldenGrasses

Classical Crochet... Or Something Like That by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

The Art of the Matter by Chelli @ The Planted Trees

Art Curriculum For Homeschoolers by LynnP @ Ladybug Chronicles

The Arts: Creating and Appreciating Beauty by Leah@As We Walk Along the Road

Our Curriculum Choices 2014 ~ The Arts & PDHPE by Renata @ Sunnyside Farm Fun

{Virtual Curriculum Fair 2014} Seeking Beauty: The Arts in Our Classical Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm

Learning Crafts For Kids & Adults by Kim @ Homestead Acres

Finding Time for Beauty in Homeschooling Including Fine Arts by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Arts & the Extras ~ These Are Some of Our Favorite Things by HillaryM @ Our Homeschool Studio


Michele said…
Great post! My kiddos would like to do more performing arts but there are limited opportunities here.
Amy Maze said…
Beautiful post! I've heard of that Hidden Art of Homemaking before and always wanted to read it, but never have. I'm still going to have to remember to pick up a copy one of these days =) Thanks for sharing all you ideas with us!