When I set out to create Artist Mats for our Classical Conversations Cycle 2 year, I had no idea how much I would enjoy it! Although I have almost no artistic ability, I remain interested in the history of art, the techniques of art, and the stories of the artworks themselves. Each little alleyway in the study of a specific artist has had treasures untold!
In case this is your introduction to our Artist Mats, I will give you a brief description of the Artist Mats but there is more about the Artist Mats here). Artist Mats are intended to be used in community but are also perfect for at home unit study of specific artists. Each Artist Mat includes:
an extended biography of the artist
portraits of the artists
quotes from the artists
eight selections from the artist’s catalogue
four “Art Terms to Know”, and
art study questions
Currently I have plans to make 6 sets of Artist Mats this year.
Since we began adding artworks to our Gathering in the last year, my kids have become more conversant with each artist. It gives me joy when one of my kids excitedly points out a work of art we have studied in a book or an unexpected place. And when they notice an artist’s style in a new-to-them painting I realize they are truly becoming art enthusiasts!
After I finished the Gathering Placemats for the 2019-2020 school year, I quickly realized I would like to create similar “mats” in other more specific genres. My interests in art and history sort of came together to create Artist Mats to go along with the Classical Conversations Cycle 2 artists.
One of the most curious parts of the Foundations curriculum for Classical Conversations, in my opinion, is Latin. Not because I think it is frivolous or unnecessary, but because it is the one most obscured by the bridge from Foundations and Essentials to the Challenge years. It is as though we parents of littles can see across a wide river the benefits of Latin, but we can’t see the passage across.
It is hard to see the connections between what we learn in Latin in the Foundations years and what our students will be dealing with in the Challenge years – especially cycles 1 and 2. Noun endings and verb conjugations are just so abstract at this point.
So what do we do for our students who show interest in Latin, but who are just now repeating a cycle in Foundations?
History is my jam. I was a church history major in college. My favorite all-time teachers, the ones who impacted me the most, taught me history. Impressed upon my heart and mind, I can still see Mrs. Berry (10th grade World History) standing at the front of class, speaking like Demosthenes. I can still remember my 8th grade American History teacher’s impressive display of Civil War artifacts.
As I tend toward history and literature or language learning, it was easy in our early years to attempt to make the Classical Conversations history sentences come alive to my student(s) by simple activities. In those early days, we did very little extra. but most of the time the extra would be history. We wrote better than Charlemagne; held spontaneous coronation ceremonies; “nailed” pretend 95 Theses to the wall; visited a building with a Magna Carta mural; went on a presidental tour around town; and on and on.
Then, as we began to practice a bit more of a Charlotte Mason approach to our education, we practiced the arts of noticing, attending, and storytelling as we read living history books about the characters who dotted our Classical Conversations Timeline and history sentences. Often, we stopped to sing snippets of the Timeline song or a history sentence related to what we had just read.
All that I considered simple, not because it was easy (because it was) but because it was natural. It was borne out of my natural love of history. I suspect other parents would just as easily and naturally add to the sciences or math.